Paris Hilton, Fred Durst, Rob Lowe, Colin Farrell, Tonya Harding, Kid Rock, Bam Margera, Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson.
These celebrities have one thing in common: at least half of America has viewed graphic content from the only private part of their lives.
This celebrity sex tape era stems from our fascination with reality TV and obsession with fame and sex, topped off by this technological revolution where everyone has a camcorder and computer with video.
Hardcore porn films have existed since the teens, but one of the earliest star pornos to surface was a nameless film that depicts what appears to be a young Marilyn Monroe, shot around 1948. Six decades later, the latest celebrity sex tape features Colin Farrell and a former Playboy Playmate, and contains a mere 14 minutes of action, marked by dialogue such as: “Where’s the zoom on this?”
But Farrell’s career probably won’t falter, and could even benefit in what has developed to be another media outlet celebrities can now work in. Some critics feel that celebrities may even be in on the sex tape “leaks”. It makes them more interesting and promotes their name.
Although our obsessive celebrity culture has been rising since the 1990’s, this public desire to see their sex tapes is a new development. Why? Partially because in our culture, the media divulges so much personal information about celebrities that people feel they know them on an intimate level.
After Paris Hilton’s sex tape surfaced, her superficial resume bulked up, and her freaking dog even wrote a book! In 2005, Yahoo’s seventh most-searched term in the world was “Paris Hilton”. Her tape is only a well-known example in the celebrity pornography trade, which increases dramatically with each innovation in motion picture technology.
In the past, Hollywood studios worked hard to curb inappropriate behavior. Celebrities under contract had to sign morals clauses, but now celebrities are constantly over boundaries of sexual explicitness that is almost encouraged. Consider 2001’s Monster’s Ball, with an intense and almost too-long sex scene between Billy Bob Thorton and Halle Berry.
The odd thing is, although people eagerly delve into media’s warped values, what we expect from ourselves or our politicians are radically different.
As a U.S. Senator your career would be ruined if your sex tape was leaked. A regular citizen such as me or you would be looked down upon. For example: A former Taiwanese Council woman was involved in sex scandal with her husband. She was described as disgraceful and forced from office. On the other hand, icon Paula Abdul had a sexual affair with a contestant on “American Idol” but is still a judge even after recordings and phone records displayed her relationship with the contestant…but the network claimed there was no proof.
What do these instances say about our society and our values? Why does our culture reward celebrities with publicity for their lewd acts?
Lauren Wise is a junior studying journalism at Arizona State University. She is editor of the college newspaper, a column writer for the independent paper Cellar Door created by students, the community college’s campus paper, and does freelance work over the internet and for local businesses. She is planning on joining the Peace Corps when she graduates in 2007 and write about her experiences so more people in America will know the conditions of countries that we rarely hear about. She loves writing, painting, playing the piano, going out with friends to sports bars, and works fulltime at a resort.