Last week, the New York Times decided to devote a few inches to remind us that celebrity sex tapes are boring. In “When Celebrity Sex Videos Are Rated Y (for Yawn),” Alex Williams whines about a time when sex tapes had the power to destroy lives and careers in the United States. His rant follows on the heels of the release of a new sex tape — this one featuring Tami Erin, who played lead in The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking in 1988.
“It wasn’t just that new technology made it easier for jerk ex-boyfriends or opportunistic groupies to produce and disseminate evidence of their dalliance with the famous,” he said, dismissing the issue of revenge porn that so many jurisdictions are currently grappling with. “The attitudes of the stars themselves changed. For some, the sex video was no longer a shameful scandal but a publicity tool. […] For a new generation of Hollywood hopefuls, getting caught in a sex-video flap seems like the first order of business once you get off the bus, right after finding a cheap studio apartment in Silver Lake.”
The idea that sexual content is only worth watching if doing so occurs without the consent of one or both people featured is disturbing. But that’s exactly what Williams is yearning for as he rails against sex tapes that are created with the express purpose of being shared with the public. His comments are even more ignorant and insensitive in light of August reports regarding the execution of singer Hyon Song Wol, one-time girlfriend of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and 11 others, for filming themselves in a “pornographic” context. They were killed by firing squad and their families sent to prison camps simply for being related to the “perpetrators.” You can view the video here. It is completely safe for work.
There is beauty in the fact that some of us live in a country where we can express ourselves sexually to this extent without fear of death or imprisonment. But it would be folly to believe that we have come such a long way — gay marriage was only just federally recognized in the U.S., but violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and the transgender continue. The set that can use a sex tape to get a step up in their careers remains fairly limited. In most respects, sexuality of any sort is still an offense punishable by job-loss and custody-denial in the United States and there is little social mobility available to people who are outted as having once been part of the adult industry.
We’ve seen it time and time again: Sarah Tressler, a society columnist at the Houston Chronicle, was fired for moonlighting as a stripper. Stacie Halas, a middle school teacher, was fired despite the fact that her nine month stint in skin was long since over. Tericka Dye, a science teacher and volleyball coach, was suspended and her contract not renewed because almost two decades prior, she’d been in porn.
Kevin Hogan, head of the English department at a high school, was sacked over his porn past despite an illustrious teaching career. Tiffany Shepherd, a biology teacher, was let go after photos of her in a bikini surfaced — after a divorce she’d made ends meet with a gig as a cruise hottie at Smokin’ Em Charters. Carlie Beck, a cheerleading coach, was fired for being a Playboy‘s Cyber Girl of the Week. Sasha Grey, long since mainstream, can’t even read a story to little kids for charity.
If you’re sitting there wishing that we could go back to a time when celebrity sex tapes had the power to ruin lives, I have only two words for you: fuck you.
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