Random Thoughts on “The Jennifer Lawrence Leak” [Updated]
[Pictured: Donald Newhouse, one of the owners of Advance Publications, which owns Reddit — an online site that is illegally distributing nude pictures of Jennifer Lawrence — as well as many, many other online magazines and blogs which are currently click-bating outrage about the illegal distribution of nude pictures of Jennifer Lawrence.]
UPDATE: Several readers, most notably Mike, Pat and Maribou have convinced me I was wrong on my thirst point. Because this is the Internet and it has its own rules about everything being there forever, I won’t take it down if you still want to read it — but I will put a strike through it.
Thanks to Saul, I now know what most people on the Intertubes have known all weekend: That thanks to
a bunch of assholes living in their parents’ basement the computer savvy folk of 4Chan, the iCloud accounts of various celebrities have been hacked and thus guys who have never kissed a girl Reddit curiosity hounds can now see Jennifer Lawrence in a way she would really, really prefer you not see her.
I’m not going to write the post I initially wanted to write, because that post has already been written by the fabulous Erin Gloria Ryan over at Jezebel. If you haven’t read it yet, please do (it’s spot on start to finish), but here’s a taste:
Male web denizens are wont to throw their palms upward and declare that nothing can be done, that this is just how things are. Bullshit. Something can always be done; reticence is a symptom of thinking that women’s needs aren’t important. Reddit (and other website) admins and employees aren’t responsible for the underlying attitude that women’s bodies are there for men to ogle and use as they see fit…
In their inaction in the face of web harassment of women, mostly male architects of internet communities imply that it would be more of a burden for people who harass women on the internet to face a modicum of accountability than it is for women to deal with the sort of harassment that makes them afraid to go home at night. A user’s right to remain unidentified and unpunished after they post an illegally obtained picture of Jennifer Lawrence’s nude body trumps Jennifer Lawrence’s right to not have illegally obtained photos of her nude body distributed to millions of strangers. An user’s right to anonymously tell Amanda Hess that he’d like to rape her trumps her right to not be threatened with rape. Internet users’ right to look at pictures Mary Winstead took for her husband trumps Mary Winstead’s right to specify who gets to look at her nude body.
Allow me then to let Erin Gloria Ryan’s words stand as all that needs to be said on that sub-topic, and instead offer a few other random observations:
Observation #1: The Internet Sucks
Here’s something: Surf through the internetubes looking for people blogging outrage about how Jennifer Lawrence has been victimized by 4Chan’s (or whoever’s) posting pictures of her body she never intended to be made public. Go ahead, do it. I’ll wait here.
So, what tops pretty much all of those articles — including the one at Jezebel? Is is clever bar graphs showing the instances of harassment against women on the internet? Is it cartoons of trolls, with the word 4Chan placed underneath? Is it photos of the editors of Reddit, who very much appear to be complicit in the distribution of what I can only call a crime against a woman?
Nope, it’s pretty much all sexy pictures of Jennifer Lawrence.
Seriously, how creepy and inappropriate is that? It’s like opening up a newspaper with a news story about a local rape, and seeing that the photo the editor chose to run with is one that shows how “doable” the victim looked last year in that strapless number she wore to the Winter Formal. But hey, we all need to get our click bait going on, amiright?
Observation #2: Our Celebrity Culture Sucks
What the hell does it say about us as a people that last March when the story about the Massachusetts Supreme Court’s ruling that the taking and posting of pictures up minors’ skirts and dresses without their knowledge or consent was okey dokey passed with nary a peep, but our Facebook and Twitter feeds are being clogged up with outrage because now something similar is happening to a celebrity?
And don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence is still absolutely, positively a victim here. Period. End of story.
It’s just that the fact that it takes a $34-million-in-earnings-a-year movie star to be a victim in order for us to give a s**t says something really, really terrible about us.
Observation #3: David Ryan is Right The good captain says this all the time: Our collective desire to have total access to any “content” we happen to want at the moment for free on the internet — no matter who created or owns that “content” — will always come back to bite us in the ass in ways we never anticipated. In a lot of important ways, 4Chan’s illegal distribution of Jennifer Lawrence’s private (and I mean that in both senses of that word) data isn’t all that different from what Aaron Schwartz did with JSTOR. Yes, one was a private person and one was a corporation. And yes, the motives of one were clearly altruistic and the other both creepy and slimy. Still, it’s probably worth stopping to ask ourselves exactly what a culture of glorifying hackers who illegally distribute “free” data that they neither created nor own is going to mean for all of us once said hackers move past those eeevil corporations we all agree had it coming.
 The Justice Department’s reaction to both, on the other hand, are truly night and day.