In a recent scandal, many Hollywood actresses and models were subject to the terrors of online hacking when hundreds of elicit photos of them were leaked from their personal accounts on online storage devices, such as iCloud. Most victimized by the attack is Academy Award winner, Jennifer Lawrence that had dozens of nude photos and a video leaked onto the media sharing website 4chan.
After extreme scrutiny by the press, Lawrence finally found the words to address the issue. It has been revealed that in an interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence defined the attack as “not a scandal” but rather as a “sex crime” committed against her (CNN).
In the interview Lawrence pleas for social change that will aim to protect the privacy of all individuals, but primarily the overtly public lives of celebrities. She claims, “Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this,” she also points out that, “It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting…I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world” (CNN). In an effort to defend her questionable actions, Lawrence describes her reasoning in taking the photos due to the fact that she was in a “loving, healthy, great relationship for four years…it was long-distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you” (CNN). Ironically enough, despite Lawrence’s claims of being distraught due to the irreversible publication of her private image, she accepted to pose topless on a the November cover of Vanity Fair which seems more like an invitation to gaze at her physique once more, rather than an opportunity to listen to what she has to say about the issue at hand. Though Lawrence, as any human being, has the right to protect her privacy, a question arises, have celebrities taunted the image of nudity and sexuality onscreen or in the public so much, that they have created a false sense that privacy is not as valued as it once was.
Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of the November issue of Vanity Fair
Kim Kardashian on the cover of W Magazine, Jennifer Lawrence on the cover of Vanity Fair, Rihanna on the cover of French magazine, Lui
Displaying nudity and female sexuality in such overtly explicit ways in the public and in the media, female stars have created an environment that promotes such risqué and provocative behavior. With skimpy clothing and highly sexualized conduct, celebrities have changed the ways in which spectators observe female representation to become a type of spectacle for the male or even female gaze. There is virtually no restraint or repercussions for instances in which beautiful women in society willingly pose in front of a camera wearing little to no clothing to become an image for society to consume and desire purely out of pleasure.
Kate Upton, one of the victims in the leaked photos scandal, on the cover of the 50th anniversary swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.
Take Sports Illustrated or Victoria’s Secret models, for example, these models are highly respected due to their beauty yet the fact that they are one tiny article of clothing away from nude, is not seen as an invasion of privacy. This leads me to wonder, at what point must these females draw the line between their right to embrace their female figures, with the importance of earning respect for their bodies in their private, off-screen lives.
Jennifer Lawrence, despite her utter disgust at the invasion of privacy she was subject to, had no problem displaying her body when casted in the role of Mystique in the X-Men movie, “X-men: Days of Future Past”. In the film, she is covered from head to toe in blue paint and bears no clothing to protect her female identity.
Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique in “X-Men: Days of Future Past”
As discussed in “Celebrities’ Rights to Privacy: How Far Should the Paparazzi Be Allowed to Go?” Jamie E. Nordhaus discusses the difficulty society has for distinguishing the privacy celebrities innately have versus the privacy society actually allows celebrities to enjoy. The author elaborates, “articles recounting details of the daily lives of celebrities generate a much higher level of interest on the part of the public than do similar stories concerning unknown people… as a result, a broad spectrum of information concerning celebrities is transferred from the protective shield of privacy into the realm of the public interest” (Nordhaus 289). As celebrities vie for public attention and to be recognized worldwide, they fall victim to overexploitation in exchange for popularity through their publicity. As these public figures tolerate harsh criticism, speculation, and intrusion of people they do not even know on a personal level, they become more “psychologically tolerant” of being disrespected (290). This leads to an immense struggle of whether or not privacy can be ever be achieved in the lives of public figures that do not seek preventative measures to protect themselves. Does Jennifer Lawrence’s fictional behavior connote that she does not value herself on a personal level and thus is depicted as a vulnerable target for exposing her personal life?
In most instances, I would argue that female celebrities should definitely take action to create a more empowering image of self-respect that will establish the importance of respecting the female body in the public light. However, as human beings, Jennifer Lawrence and all celebrities are entitled to choosing in which way their bodies are represented and their wishes must be upheld.