By Lucy Harding
Back in August 2014, the media was rife with the news that intimate photographs of several female celebrities had been stolen and leaked onto the internet in an online data breach including those of the Oscar award winning star of The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence. In our media focused society it seems that this form of sexual exploitation is increasingly commonplace with celebrities who have previously suffered in incidents of the same nature including Vanessa Hudgens, Scarlett Johansson, Blake Lively and more recently The Only Way is Essex star James Argent who proves it’s not just females who are being exploited. Lawrence broke her silence on the photo hacking in a very open cover interview for Vanity Fair’s November issue, addressing not only her feelings towards her ordeal but also calling for a change in the way that the media and public respond to issues of this kind.
Describing the leaked nude photographs as a ‘sex crime’ opposed to a scandal and demanding a change in the law to prevent this method of sexual violation, the actress has bravely opened up about her ordeal whilst reminding us once again why she is such an important role model. The fact that the exploitation of Lawrence and so many others in this way is so often described as scandalous, news worthy and a source of profit disguises the serious nature of the violation.
Lawrence addressed this issue, stating that, although she is a high profile actress, this kind of violation of privacy does not come as part of the job. In her emotional interview she discussed the phone call that she had to make to her father to break the news of the photo leaking, stating that ‘I don’t care how much money I get for The Hunger Games… I promise you, anybody given the choice of that kind of money or having to make a phone call to tell your dad that something like that has happened, it’s not worth it.”
What I find particularly inspiring about Jennifer’s emotional and frank interview is her refusal to make a public apology, and rightly so. Jennifer admits she was worried about the impact that the leaked photographs would have on her career and started to write an apology to her fans before her realisation that she had ’nothing to be sorry for’ as the leaked photographs were private and intended for the viewing of her boyfriend at the time Nicholas Holt.
The Silver Linings Playbook star goes on to shame not only the hackers and the distributers of the photographs but everyone who involved themselves in her sexual exploitation by viewing the photographs claiming that ‘anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense.’ It is refreshing for a victim of a sexual exploitation of this kind to point the blame to those who partake in the exploitation, rather than apologising and expressing their embarrassment, denying it is them or remaining silent as it reminds us that sexual exploitation is always wrong and is more than just a mere scandal.
At times the media and general public are too quick to forget that celebrities are real people and not merely sources of gossip and entertainment, the leaking of private photographs is always an act of exploitation and a violation of privacy, no question of celebrity status. Jennifer Lawrence’s inspiring attitude towards her exploitation has the potential to enforce a stricter law for breaches of privacy of this kind and to change our response to future incidents of this nature.