First off, I’d like to assure anyone reading this that are no naked pictures of me out in the cloud (or anywhere else, for that matter), just waiting to be stolen by hackers and published on some forum or photo-sharing site. I know that will be a huge relief to those of you still reeling from the release into the public domain of all those illicitly obtained celebrity nude photos. I mean, is nothing sacred? Can’t wealthy celebrities put their private nude pictures online in the safety of cloud storage without people stealing them? Which brings me to the aspect of this ‘scandal’ which perplexes me most – not the question of why people would have nude photos of themselves, but rather, why on earth would you store such things online? Really, does anybody really think that cloud storage is secure? When hardly a day goes by that don’t hear stories of web-based e-mail accounts being hacked, let alone entire websites being taken over by spammers, you’d think that the cloud would be the last place you’d choose to store private and highly personal pictures. I’m not sure that I’d feel safe storing such material on the hard drive of my laptop, you hear enough reports of home computers being hacked via viruses and their data stolen.
But it all comes down to the fact that we’re living in a digital age, where personal photographs are rarely printed out physically and instead exist solely as digital data, viewed on PCs, tablets and phones. People just find it easier to store these things online, despite the inherent risks involved in doing so. Because the problem is that photos aren’t just viewed by the people you want to see them, they can very easily be shared with all and sundry. That’s one of the beauties of the web – it makes the distribution of data so much easier. Back in the pre-digital age, when photographs were a purely physical thing, you could have far greater control over your personal pictures. You could restrict the number of prints and who saw them. You could destroy those prints easily and, if push came to shove, you could always destroy the negatives to ensure that there could be no more prints. So, if, for some reason, you had a collection of nude pictures of yourself, you could keep them safely under your mattress, under the floor boards or behind the radiator, bringing them out every so often to narcissitically look at yourself and gloat over how beautiful your body is, (I can’t imagine any other reason for having a collection of nude pictures of yourself which you don’t publish). Whilst it would still be possible for them to be stolen, it would require house breaking skills and the only way to distribute them publicly would be by selling them to a newspaper. Which might be reluctant to handle them because of the risk of legal action.
So, why didn’t these celebrities go low-tech and use pre-digital technology to safeguard their privacy? Well, could it be that they were sharing these nude pictures amongst themselves? Is there some kind of ‘dark web’ of celebrity naked picture sharing? A bit like the ‘sexting’ which allegedly goes on amongst ‘ordinary people’, with nude ‘selfies’ being sent via mobile phones to friends, (which said ‘friends’ then share with their entire address books)? After all, the world of celebrity is incredibly insular – it’s like an exclusive club to which you only have entry if you have a certain degree of fame and/or money. Once in, you don’t have to deal with nasty non-celebrities and their dull lives, instead flaunting your fabulous lifestyle at them in order to bask in their adulation. It’s a bit like royalty, in that royal bloodlines are kept pure by avoiding marrying commoners – likewise, celebrities only have relationships with other celebrities. It follows that they’d only want other celebrities to see them nude. Maybe that’s what it is all about – they happily swap nude pictures, marvelling at how perfect they are and how this is another privilege bestowed by fame: the exclusive opportunity to see Scarlet Johansson’s knockers or Brad Pitt’s cock in all its alleged glory.
Then again, perhaps there’s some kind of celebrity ‘Reader’s Wives’ thing going on here, with male celebrities in relationships with particularly hot female celebrities swap nude pictures of them. Maybe they have some kind of secure website on Tor or something, where you can log in and look to see what your famous buddy’s equally famous current squeeze’s arse looks like. After all, pictures of ‘ordinary people’ naked would probably be just too mundane for the average Hollywood star to jack off over – it probably takes a look at one of Jennifer Lawrence’s bared breasts just to get it up for them. (Then again, perhaps the sight of some woman from a council estate in Hackney without any clothes on seems exotic to the average male mega-celebrity – especially if she’s pictured in some grotty looking tenth floor flat with running damp, peeling wall paper and crumbling plaster. Some of those rich perverts are incredibly twisted, I’ve heard).
The other side of the coin is the matter of just why the rest of us are apparently so keen to see celebrities naked. Is it because it reassures us that, despite their wealth and glamourous lifestyles, they really are only human? By making them seem vulnerable, does looking at such pictures make the celebrities seem less intimidating? Or do we just want something to fuel our masturbatory fantasies? Whatever the reasons, there’s no doubt that we’re obsessed with seeing nude celebrities. I recall that some years ago there was a book called, I think, The Bare Facts in which the author had meticulously catalogued – in alphabetical order – every major movie which contained nudity. On each entry he listed the stars you could see unclothed, how much you could see and the exact number of minutes and seconds into the running time each instance of full or partial nudity took place, so that if you rented the film from Blockbuster, you could fast forward the video (for these were the days of VHS) straight to the bared boobs and bums. But generally, why are we so obsessed by nudity here in the UK? Other cultures treat it matter-of-factly, not regarding nakedness in itself as being titillating or erotic. The naturists will tell us it is because we are repressed by the tyranny of clothes – if we all walked around starkers, the novelty would soon wear off. Perhaps they are right, but I can’t help but feel that universal nudity would make the prevailing ‘body fascism’ even worse, putting more pressure on people to have ‘beautiful’ bodies like those celebrities. So, if you are a celebrity and are to take a few nude pictures of yourself, remember to use an old school camera and to lock the negative away safely. Otherwise you could find yourself being ogled by a group of sweaty nerds in a sleazy newsgroup in some obscure corner of the web. Until next time, keep it sleazy!