This weekend, hackers on the message board 4chan leaked a collection of nude photographs stolen from female celebrities’ computers and online data storage accounts. These intimate photographs, taken in privacy, were stolen and distributed widely over the internet without these women’s consent.
As a society, we should be outraged. Have we forgotten that, other than learning every single detail about their personal lives, we have a duty to respect celebrities’ privacy?
We used to have values. We used to be civil as we devoured the salacious details of unfounded celebrity sex rumors with the tacit understanding that publishing sensitive nude photographs of these celebrities was out of the question. We understood that celebrities are real people, which means that—with the exception of their relationships, families, political opinions, candid moments, and whereabouts—their personal information deserved protection from the public eye.
Gone, now, are those days when a celebrity could simply live her life secure in the knowledge that, aside from the legions of paparazzi snapping embarrassing covert photographs and putting them online for millions of users to gawk at, her privacy was sacrosanct.
As we interact with celebrities, there have to be boundaries. What are the details of Jennifer Lawrence’s new relationship? Is Lindsay Lohan using drugs again? What conclusions can we make about Kim Kardashian as a mother based on a series of candid photographs of her walking with her daughter on the street? These are all acceptable questions, and it is only reasonable to seek out the answers from any source that makes them available.
But stealing photos off of a celebrity’s personal computer? That’s a bridge too far. When it comes to celebrities’ personal lives, let’s draw the line at stealing private images of their nude bodies, since that’s the precise point at which our incessant invasion of every aspect of their existence transforms from innocent fun into something disgusting.
It would be nice to go back to a time when all we did was harmlessly make wild declarations about Taylor Swift’s value as a human being every time a gossip magazine dug up unconfirmed details about her latest breakup, but those halcyon days are gone forever. The nude pictures are up now, and they aren’t coming down. So, whoever invaded these women’s privacy so flagrantly by stealing—or even looking at—these photos should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.
The rest of us can only shake our heads in quiet judgment.