Sunday, October 05, 2014


You may have heard of the recent scandal about Internet leaks of nude or personal photos of female celebrities. Dubbed "The Fappening", a word play on the (horribly bad - my opinion) movie The Happening and the term "fap", which refers to masturbation, it is a huge collection of pictures that seem to have been taken by the celebs themselves or by close acquaintances in private surroundings. You know... selfies. They were obviously obtained through some underhanded methods and published in several waves, three at the moment. I am not here to give you torrent links to the leaked material, even if they are fairly easy to find, instead I am going to talk about the general reaction, as proven by seed/leech ratios of torrent downloads: after an initial boom in interest, the updates have been less and less interesting to people. Why is that?

At first I hypothesized that the vehement reaction of the media was part joining in the fray, like sharks smelling blood, and in their own way pointing people to search the net for the photos (yeah, I don't really believe in the difference between mentioning something that is easy to find and a link), but also because this affair was an obvious attack on the brands that the celebrities are standing for. Nobody really cares about how some of the actresses in this situation are actually acting if they look hot enough and also, very important, how unattainable they are. The reaction of the agencies that invested a lot in these brands was expectedly violent. However, there is another factor, one that I think makes it all meaningful to discuss: people expected something completely different from what was provided. No matter how much we understand the media processes involved in creating a celebrity personality, we don't really (emotionally) believe that it is happening or we don't understand the extent of the effort. Indeed, when people downloaded the pictures and guiltily and excitedly started to look at the images, they found out... real women. Without the expertise of professional photographers and without the extensive post processing and media censorship that occurs after the pictures are taken, the celebrity females that we collectively idolatrized appeared as less than goddesses and as just normal people, with zits and saggy tits and all that. Even if they look fabulous, like some of them do, the amateurish manner of the way the pictures were taken give little pleasure. Indeed, the only pleasure that can be extracted from this is akin to rape: they wanted to cheat, to show us just the Photoshopped images of themselves, but we showed them! We took what we wanted.

Look at the torrent statistics though. The October collection of pictures is at the top, over Fappening 2 that has more seeds than Fappening 3. People lost interest: they were curious, downloaded the stuff, then they didn't follow through with the rest. All because they were getting something other than they had bargained for. Instead of pictures showing more of the beautiful women we yearn for, they showed enough to make those women feel terribly human. The breasts, the asses and all the other hidden skin was hidden not because they were something amazing to hide, but because the myth was more beautiful and sexy, perfect in its imperfect sharing. It raises important questions that I believe to be worth exploring: what are we really falling for? What is beauty: just a branded illusion? Why do girls appearing fully clothed and smiling in a music video or a movie seem more desirable than the fully naked and active girls in porn films? Are we really interested in the "reality show" of someone's intimacy, or do we, really, secretly, want these people to show us only the beautiful parts, to make us believe that perfect people exist? Are we all victims of a global romcom? And who is it that is laughing at the comedy aspect of all this?