By KATE LEAVER
“What a silly, silly girl.”
“If you take naked photos of yourself, of course they’re going to end up on the internet.”
“I expected better from Jennifer Lawrence.”
When naked photos of “J-Law” hit the internet this morning, that’s what people were thinking. It’s what people were whispering over their morning coffee, gossiping on the way to work, tweeting. Moral superiority is our quickest shortcut to feeling OK about ourselves when stories like this break.
But the more details you know about this case, the more shallow those initial gut reactions appear.
This is not the kind of “nude photo scandal” we’re used to – it’s more sinister than that. We’re talking about a 24-year-old woman who took photographs of herself, in her own home, for an audience of one. It was an intimate, consensual act between two people that happened to have involved a camera. She even deleted those photographs from her phone.
Then an anonymous man hacked into her computer system, illegally retrieved deleted files, stole up to 60 naked and semi-naked photos, and published them online without her permission or her knowledge. What Jennifer Lawrence did in taking photos of herself was entirely legal and acceptable. Everything that’s happened since is not.
As Lawrence’s representatives have said in a statement: “This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”
And so they should; this is a serious crime. It’s the equivalent of a man breaking into Jennifer Lawrence’s bedroom with a camera and photographing her having sex in her own home. This is akin to the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, when journalists illegally tapped celebrities’ phones and listened to their private conversations.
That’s the level of criminal intrusion we’re talking about here.
This is not like that time Kim Kardashian (or, more accurately, her mother/manager Kris Jenner) “leaked” a sex tape in a brazen grab at fame. This is not a staged accident, like when Nicki Minaj’s top serendipitously fell open on stage at the VMAs. This is not a seedy publicity stunt from a desperate celebrity.
This is a crime committed against a woman who happens to be famous. I repeat: This is a crime.
It’s not just a crime against Jennifer Lawrence. The same man who stole her private photographs claims to have done the same to 101 famous women, including Kate Bosworth, Scarlett Johansson, Teresa Palmer, Cara Delevigne, Kristen Dunst, and Mary-Kate Olsen. It’s a mass attack on the privacy, dignity, and agency of these women by a man who seems to be doing it simply because he can.