Sunday 19 July 2015

Defending Daniella Westbrook and Dr Christian Jessen

Celebs and dodgy photos, eh? The latest pair to succumb in this fashion are ex-Eastender Daniella Westbrook and the chunky, hunky Dr Christian Jessen of C4's Embarrassing Bodies. In case anyone missed the last two editions of the Daily Star Sunday, both have been caught somewhat in flagrante. Daniella apparently became infatuated with a man she met on Instagram and sent him some samples from her adults only collection. Dr Christian was similarly skewered. A sent a gent he met on Grindr a series of snaps that left very little to the imagination.

Some might say if you're a celeb and you're using this wonderful marvel of the digital age to hook up, then you get what you deserve really. I'm not so sure, however. From a moral viewpoint, this is not like the so-called "fappening" (ah, such wit) that released hundreds of intimate pictures of celebrities - the vast majority of whom were young women - after stealing them by hacking their accounts. The investigation into the theft hasn't turned up much so far, except the confiscation of a man's computer equipment in June. If anyone is eventually convicted for this that can look forward to doing a stretch - another hacker got 10 years for breaking into Mila Kunis's and Scarlett Johansson's account.

Nor is it the same as the revenge porn treatment recently meted out to TOWIE's Lauren Goodger and UKIP staffer Lizzy Vaid. Readers will recall the attempted slut-shaming of both these women after ex-partners released intimate films and photos of both. However, despite crimes being committed in both cases there have not been any arrests or prosecutions to date. In Lauren's case this might have something to do with her dating the culprit again.

Where Daniella and Dr Christian are concerned, neither set was stolen. But can they fall into the category of revenge porn? In the first case, the photos Daniella sent were apparently unsolicited. And - though not familiar with any dating app - I assume Dr Christian's pics were exchanged once a romantic word or two (or whatever passes as such in hook up culture) were exchanged in the ether. Yet there's something deeply uncomfortable about both. Salacious gossip is par the course for sleaze rags like The Star, but none of it is really in the public interest, but I've always found it pretty distasteful that the other party to this case - in Dr Christian's it's the would-be hooker-upper - emerges with their anonymity protected and probably a couple of K in cash.

Even worse is Daniella's case. The man concerned, one Alfie Southion, claimed she was sending 30 messages a day, some of which with intimate pictures and other apparently asking for sex. As he puts it, "When she started sending me naked pictures I couldn’t believe it. It was a bit sad and degrading. In the end I had to block her. To be honest she scared me a bit ... She didn’t seem in a good place, I think she needs help." So our Alfie believed that Daniella was suffering mental health problems and needed specialist assistance. So by way of rendering her aid he flogged the images and publicly slut-shamed her in the pages of a national daily, presumably in return for a few grand. What a loathsome, morally reprehensible creature.

Helpfully, The Star clarifies the law here as :
Individuals who publish explicit videos or images without consent and with intent to cause distress could face jail.

Under the new legislation, offenders will face up to two years in jail for sharing images on or offline without the subject’s permission.

The law defines revenge porn as “photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public”.

Newspapers are entitled to publish such images if they believe it to be in the public interest.
Basically, as far as the paper is concerned they can republish the photos because a) the public are interested and b) they're censored anyway. However, The Star are certainly in breach of the spirit of the legislation and can under a wide interpretation be considered to have broken it. It appears young Alfie and our friend from Grindr may have as they shared explicit images with a third party without permission. I do hope Daniella and Dr Christian make complaints to the police.

Was it unwise of our two celebrities to make and share pornographic images of themselves? Considering their position, probably. But ultimately that is immaterial. What they do with their phones and fiddly bits is up to them, and it's no one's place - not hypocritical rags, not opportunists on the make - to breach their trust and use sex imagery to embarrass, traduce, and shame.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are entering an age where privacy will be pretty much a thing of the past. People above the age of 30 will cling onto the old world, where there was some degree of privacy, for all its worth. And who can blame them?

But, really, privacy will belong in a museum.

In the past revenge took place within the circle of friends. So a woman scorned would tell everyone how bad a lover her boyfriend was. The humiliated boyfriend would have to, well, take it like a man. Whereas a woman can go to the courts and get the vengeful man locked up!

Oh, you have to love equality!