Be Nice To People Who Give You Boners: Thoughts On The Great Celebrity Nude Leak Of 2014

In case you missed it, over the weekend, hackers stole and posted nude cell phone pictures and videos of Jennifer Lawrence and virtually every celebrity you’ve ever fantasized about in some kind of 13-year-old’s fever dream made real. It was nearly impossible not to be simultaneously titillated yet mildly horrified by the crime that had been committed, like suddenly having the urge to masturbate to a fatal car crash.

Luckily, federal law enforcement doesn’t take kindly to people stealing and passing around nude photos of citizens – that’s their job! The FBI says it’s on the case:

“The FBI is aware of the allegations concerning computer intrusions and the unlawful release of material involving high profile individuals, and is addressing the matter,” the FBI said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Any further comment would be inappropriate at this time.”

In a previous high-profile case of celebrity photo hacking, Christopher Chaney was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison in 2012 after pleading guilty to hacking into the email accounts of stars such as Scarlett Johansson and other celebrities. [HollywoodReporter]

Meanwhile, in a strange twist, that much-ridiculed line from Sex Tape, “No one understands the cloud!” is suddenly relevant. It’s crazy, because no one in the world ever expected “Sex Tape” and “relevant” to appear in the same sentence.

Though it hasn’t yet been confirmed that the pictures came from iCloud accounts, reports have speculated that the hackers used a recent tool called iBrute, which can repeatedly try different combinations of passwords on Apple’s Find My iPhone service until one of them works. Once Find My iPhone is breached, it is possible to access iCloud passwords and view images and other data stored in a user’s iCloud account. Apple had previously allowed an unlimited number of password attempts on the Find My iPhone service, but it has since limited it to five attempts, making the iBrute tool ineffective. [TheVerge]

In terms of a silver lining, in the wake of this mass hacking, people are suddenly seeing celebrities as real people who maybe don’t deserve to have their private photos spread to all the world in a way that they didn’t even two years ago (when it happened to Scarlett Johansson). I admit, even I didn’t think much about it when it happened to Scarlett Johansson. Maybe it’s easier to empathize when it’s Jennifer Lawrence, since she’s always had that special quality of seeming like someone you might hang with. Whatever the cause, a plurality of people suddenly seem to be recognizing that celebrity privacy might be connected to their own.

The Guardian has a piece titled, “If you click on Jennifer Lawrence’s naked pictures, you’re perpetuating her abuse.” That seems well meaning but a bit much, since while it’s almost certainly true, “just don’t click” seems like incredibly impractical advice. When I see a headline with “Jennifer Lawrence Nude!” in it, my finger will have already clicked before my conscious mind even has had a chance to weigh in, let alone my conscience. Now you want me to feel extra guilty about it? Not helping, jerks.

But Scott Mendelson’s piece on Forbes did seem particularly relevant, “Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photo Leak Isn’t A Scandal, It’s A Sex Crime.”

Outlets as mainstream as People and CNN are referring to the photo leak as a “scandal.” All due respect, it’s not a scandal. The actresses and musicians involved did nothing immoral or legally wrong by choosing to take nude pictures of themselves and put them on their personal cell phones. […] I sincerely hope that absolutely none of the victims involved in this current leak takes any form of “responsibility” or apologizes for anything

Truth. And as for the “you shouldn’t have taken them!” morality police, I liked the way this tweeter put it, “If you don’t want your credit card data leaked, just don’t have a credit card.”

Basically, as a guy who once used binoculars to try to spy on naked ladies when I was 12 (f*ck you for judging me), much as I’d try to deny it, I do understand the impulse that makes a person want to hack an actress’s phone and look at her nudey photos. The part I don’t understand is the impulse to take the photos and try to spread them all over the internet. It’s as if you can’t masturbate to a person unless you’re actively embarrassing them, and that’s a problem. The root question in all of this seems to me to be, “can’t you at least be nice to the people you’re jacking off to?”