Jennifer Lawrence: outspoken public comedienne, fashion icon, Oscar-winner, and the everyday girl. For the past few years, the actress has been on fire; after her star-making role as Katniss Everdeen in the acclaimed film adaption of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy, Jennifer Lawrence has been a popular icon. When it comes to her public persona, she plays off paparazzi with a cool, but unfailingly goofy demeanor, often flipping off photographers or letting everyone know how hungry she is while wearing a haute couture gown. The paradox of Jennifer Lawrence is brilliant: the beautiful girl who can hang out with anyone with a beer or a designer clutch in hand. However, when news broke just this week about the leaking of her private, nude photos the world was surprised at this new image of Lawrence: a victim.
The Internet is always eager to get ahold of pictures that just do not belong on it. Not surprisingly, scandal never fails to surface on this digital platform for an actress or singer who is the current “It Girl.” In 2007, at the height of actress Vanessa Hudgens’s fame from the High School Musical franchise, private photos surfaced on the web that pictured her in fewer clothes than what some—mostly parents of her young fans and the network she worked for, The Disney Channel—saw as appropriate. Hudgens herself had to deal directly with the repercussions as a role model to her very young fans, even saying to People magazine in 2008, “It was very traumatic, and I am extremely upset it happened. I hope all my fans can learn from my mistake and make smart decisions…” Hudgens is not alone in her privacy being invaded; countless of young, female celebrities have fallen victim to hackers’ assumptions that all celebrity property should be public property. Why did Hudgens and some of her fellow victimized contemporaries feel like they had to account for their actions when it was their privacy that was invaded?
Here in 2014, the story is a little different. Sexual violation is a topic that is more openly discussed than it was seven years ago. While Lawrence is at the top of the headlines, several other women celebrities’ private photos have been leaked as well by the same hackers; the UK magazine The Mirror reported celebrities such as Rihanna, Kate Upton, Victoria Justice, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, as well as reportedly one-hundred and one other famous women, has had their photos leaked via hackers’ access of their personal iCloud, a feature from Apple Inc. Despite the same nature of the incident, Lawrence has remained relatively mum about the situation, while others, like Victoria Justice, young Nickelodeon star, tweeted, “These so called nudes of me are FAKE people. Let me nip this in the bud right now. *pun intended*”. Some starlets still appear to feel the need to rectify their actions while they are actually not the ones who should be apologizing. The hackers, who so vehemently believe it is their job to invade others’ privacy, should not only be held responsible in the eyes of the law, but also in the eyes of the public who must stop fueling the obsession of personal invasion.
The matter at hand is a serious one; although all the women whose photos were exposed to the entire world through the Internet were of legal age for nude photos to even be taken, it is the problem of privacy evasion. Compared to previous leaks of private photos, many news outlets are not referring to the Lawrence event as a scandal, but as a “sex crime.” Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson argues in a recent article regarding the invasion incident that despite the purposed foolish nature of even taking nude pictures, every woman, celebrity or not, has the absolute right to take any picture she desires. That is where the hackers’ understanding of basic human rights comes to an end; freedom of speech, as with any freedom, is only guaranteed so long as one does not infringe upon the rights of others. The incident is without a doubt a crime, but it is likely to become another casualty for the media to skim over after a couple of weeks at most. Even though privacy is a huge problem with this event, it boils down even further to the matter of women’s rights. As women are already objectified within the media, nude photos only allow for more people to project a specific image on famous women due to their body types. The problem of Lawrence and the other women’s photos being leaked is the matter that consent was not given, so therefore, as Mendelson said, it is without argument, a sex crime.
Jennifer Lawrence has been continuously quoted for speaking out against the media’s tendencies to tear women down because of their bodies and their style choices. Without fully admitting it herself, Jennifer Lawrence represents a new era for feminism; she is beautiful and charismatic, but she is also passionate about her job as an actress and as a supporter of good body image. Hopefully with this recent event, she will use her wit and her strong voice to speak up about the media’s over-involvement in the privacy of her and her fellow actresses. In a way, Lawrence as the victim can begin a new outlook on respect for the private property of young stars; since she is particularly popular in the public eye, she alone should not apologize for the event, but make sure the hackers are persecuted, as well the ones who must apologize for their unseemly actions with the public standing behind her. Jennifer Lawrence has been a positive role model for many young girls and women of all ages; to be the best role model she can be, she does not deserve to give us an apology. The public and the hackers are the ones who should be stumbling to find the right words to apologize for the lack of respect given to young women whose intentions do not need explanation.