· Vanessa Hudgens’s naked picture escaped her control and ended up on the Internet. Moral panic and boneheaded idiocy ensued.
· Instead of outpouring of sympathy, Hudgens is at the receiving end of a vicious blame-the-victim attitude, similar to that often mercilessly applied to rape victims.
· There are two aspects in which the USA could use a LOT of improvement:
o Treating sex and nudity as a personal and physical act first and foremost, and legislating appropriately. Moral judgment on either is fine but is totally subjective and is thus incapable of being rendered as public law. Laws should be amended to allow people to wear whatever the hell they want (or nothing at all if they so desire) and to engage in any kind of consensual sex they please, so long as no one is harmed or deprived of liberty in the process.
o Treating public figures as people rather than circus animals. Realizing that public figures are every bit as entitled to their private lives as the rest of us, and that they have feelings that can be hurt too. Stop hounding celebrities and start focusing on what really matters in this country.
· America is still culturally backward. It’s time for us to get real, stop trampling on people’s sexual/clothing-related freedoms, stop disrespecting and objectifying our public figures, and start focusing on what really matters!
I don’t blog about this kind of stuff very often but I wanted to bring it up because it relates to what I discussed several days ago in The Saga of Larry Craig. This story concerns 18-year old actress Vanessa Anne Hudgens, who is mostly known for her leading role in Disney Channel’s High School Musical.
Like Larry Craig, an embarrassing detail of Hudgens’s private life was revealed after several revealing photographs, including one where she is fully nude, were unwillingly leaked onto the Internet, undoubtedly for the benefit of the nation’s large population of celebrity-mobbing vultures who care too much about other people’s lives to attend to their own. Needless to say, they generated a large amount of discussion. I originally was going to post the link to the comments and the nude photo in question but I decided not to so as to not go against the point of this entry and further contribute to the spread of this fake controversy. (Though, I will say that if you ask me I think she looks great in that picture.)
Much of the commentary to me seem to be negative and scornful of Hudgens, mostly along the lines of, “I don’t feel sorry for her because she’s so stupid; she should’ve known that those pictures would get leaked.” Yeah, because celebrities are not allowed to have private lives and do what they please in private. Because celebrities are not allowed to ever trust anyone else with these kind of pictures, and heaven forbid the idea that that kind of trust could actually be broken. Because celebrities should always be wholesome good people who are not allowed to do ANYTHING, repeat ANYTHING, that’s even SLIGHTLY risqué or sexual or anything that any one of our great Christian moral leaders/proselytizers would lecture us not to do (before going and doing it themselves, of course).
Talk about total blame-the-victim here. The argument that Hudgens deserves to suffer because she should have “known” it would happen sounds similar to the argument that women who wear scanty attire deserve to be raped because they should have “known” that their clothing would attract attention.
Never mind that, contrary to popular belief, nudity =/= sex and nudity =/= inappropriate or wrong or immoral. And yes, some may say it’s wrong or immoral to take pictures of oneself nude. These are the same people who tell us to wear chastity belts until we’re married, because it’s wrong to have sex with anyone other than a person of the opposite sex who you’re married to, because sex (and by totally illogical extension, nudity) has been arbitrarily deemed to be something sacred and ritualized and completely glossed-up instead of what it actually is: the physical act of reproduction. Oh, and fuck the gays too.
Like Larry Craig, Hudgens received few kind of words of defense or sympathy. The one saving grace is that unlike Craig, she won’t be losing her job over this; Disney has confirmed that she will be appearing in future HSM sequels. But a Disney spokesmen left a rather condescending parting shot: “Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment.” What was the lapse of judgment here? Taking a naked picture of herself? What, is she not allowed to have fun? Are all celebrities supposed to sit on their ass and do nothing in their free time, and have no sex/private lives whatsoever? Oh yeah, cuz that will send a bad message to the kids who look up to them as role models! Because we can’t let our children learn to have fun, or take nude pictures of themselves, or – gasp – have sex! Hey, to everyone who wants to invoke the whole “role model” argument, every child should have two people that they look up to more than anyone else – their parents. And if that’s not happening, then the parents, not Vanessa Hudgens or any other celebrity, is to blame.
The statement continues: “We hope she’s learned a valuable lesson.” Yes, there is a valuable lesson that I have learned and hopefully she and all other Americans have learned as well. In case you haven’t caught it, here it goes.
The lesson is that whether it’s politics or TV, the United States as a whole has some serious growing up to do both in the way they treat their public figures, as well as the attitude and manner in which they handle the issues of sex and nudity (which are only related incidentally, I believe). Seriously, with both the Craig and Hudgens dramas, I look around at my fellow Americans and, I hate to say it but I feel like I’m surrounded by idiots, utter buffoons and giggling five-year olds who think babies are brought to the world by storks. It’s really long past time that we Americans start being mature and level-headed about issues of sex and nudity, neither of which is harmful or dangerous – quite the opposite in fact. Sex and nudity are totally harmless and matters of personal discretion, and it’s time we start treating them as such. We can start in the legal realm by getting rid of all sumptuary laws regarding clothing or the lack thereof (or regarding anything personal period, but that’s another subject) and all laws regulating consensual sex (this should be backed up by strong sex education in every school, and yes, part of strong sex ed is NOT being abstinence-only). Sex is a personal and physical act first and foremost. Any more significance you wish to cast upon it is your choice but don’t make your personal, subjective moral judgment the basis for laws that impose on OTHER people’s private and personal decisions.
Similarly, it really pisses me off how we have come to treat our pubic figures not as people but as circus animals. Is it too much to ask as a public figure to be left alone to have a private life that’s actually private? Public figures have private lives and feelings too, and people need to start realizing that. I understand that many people have made public figures’ private lives a personal interest, similar I guess to how I’m interested in animal ecology. I don’t understand why you’d be concerned about other people’s lives rather than your own, but having that interest is fine; just don’t cross the line of common decency and respect for people’s feelings. News flash: public figures have feelings too! and they get hurt when people are fucking harassing them for pictures or juicy details, or when trust is betrayed and yet somehow they are the ones to blame (similar to that blame the rape victim bullshit).
Besides being the right thing to do, growing up about sex/nudity and leaving public figures alone also gives the added benefit of freeing up time and brainpower for more vital issues of a public nature, like the war in Iraq that’s continually claiming the lives of young Americans in the armed services. (On that note, I will start writing an Iraq entry soon!) To my knowledge, no one has ever died from seeing a picture of a naked woman on the Internet, or from a guy in the bathroom stall next to them tapping his foot and swiping his hand. Let’s face it, America is still culturally backward. It’s time for us to get real, stop trampling on people’s sexual/clothing-related freedoms, stop disrespecting and objectifying our public figures, and start focusing on what really matters!
P.S. Am I the only one who suspects that there wouldn’t be so much attention/criticism/scorn directed towards Vanessa Hudgens if she were a man? You know, the double standard that says that guys can be sex machines but girls have to be all dainty and chaste? Another sign of the backward culture we live in.