When I first heard the news about the recent celebrity nude photo leak, it was through a tweet from gossip blogger Perez Hilton. Alongside uncensored pictures of Jennifer Lawrence and Victoria Justice he'd written things like "OMG SO HOT!" and "Jennifer Lawrence is a total sex kitten!" As a longtime fan of Hilton's site, it was sickening, but not altogether shocking. Shortly after news broke, Lawrence's spokesperson issued a statement to Buzzfeed:
This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.
It didn't take long for Hilton to receive an enormous amount of backlash for putting up the pictures (before and after Lawrence's PR spoke to the press), and once Lawrence's team released their statement, he deleted all of his tweets and blog posts that contained any links to the photos. In addition to that, he tweeted out his regret for how he'd handled the situation, and even recorded a video apologizing for the egregious misstep in judgement he'd admittedly made in haste.
While I'm completely and totally with the people who quickly called out Hilton for supporting such an unfortunate, massive breach of privacy for every one of those actresses, his actions didn't totally surprise me. In the past, nude photo scandals have been treated somewhat lightly, and while they've almost always been the result of a hacker, the fault of the leak usually boiled down to the celebrity for taking them in the first place. For instance, in 2007 Vanessa Hudgens, fresh off of her High School Musical success, was the victim of some risqué photos of her in various states of undress making the rounds.
Hudgens released a statement after the pictures surfaced, saying, "I want to apologize to my fans, whose support and trust means the world to me. I am embarrassed over this situation and regret having ever taken these photos," as if it were her fault that someone had hacked into her phone and stolen the images. At that point, whether it was because everyone was so used to seeing her as the clean cut Gabriella in HSM, or because nude selfies were just starting to emerge, Hudgens was met with a wall of slut-shaming backlash rather than the support victims of the August 2014 scandal have received.
In 2012, Kesha also fell victim to a hacker when multiple, graphic photos of her appeared online. Instead of the public rallying behind her to condemn the disgusting human being who leaked the pics, Kesha was treated to more puns using her song "Blow" than anyone probably thought possible. As far as gossip blogs were concerned, she'd joined the ranks of celebrities "who should have left the cameras out of the bedroom," rather than "celebrities who had their privacy completely violated when their personal pictures were hacked, cruelly mocked, and shamed by the rest of the world."
Sadly, at the time, this was the norm. Even the large scale celebrity hacking operation in 2011 that resulted in over 50 celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera, and Mila Kunis getting their private photos leaked, dubbed "Operation Hackerazzi" by the FBI, inspired little public empathy in terms of how these privacy violations were treated.
Thankfully, times have changed.
While Hilton's initial tweet and blog posts about the leak may have gone over just fine a few years ago, this time around no one was having it. Celebrities like Emma Watson and Lena Dunham came to the defense of the celebrities affected, and shut down anyone who treated the situation as a joke. For once a nude photo scandal is being treated like the sad, major violation of privacy that it is, instead of something to be dragged through the mud by gossip blogs. Hopefully the media, like Hilton, has learned its lesson.
Image: Getty Images (3)