Naked Ambition

Oh, the irony of it all.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were presented with beautiful traditional Solomon Island necklaces – by a bevy of bare-breasted women.

Kourtney Kardashian gave birth in front of cameras and actually pulled out Penelope with her own hands, in front of her family… and anyone who is besotted enough with the exhibitionist family to watch their show… just as people like Paris Hilton managed to garner an audience of millions by cavorting in front of the cameras.

Fred Willard got arrested for lewd conduct while watching  a three-film loop in an adult cinema, and Kate Middleton’s second cousin once removed, burlesque artiste Katrina Darling makes the best of her royal connections and flaunts her body (and tasteless tattoos) all over the place.

Nicole Richie wore a dress with a top made up of hundreds of little leatherette leaves – but there were not enough of them to cover her cleavage, and  Scarlett Johansson boasted that she knows her “best angles” when someone posted pictures intended for then-husband Ryan Reynolds.

The soap opera Hollyoaks introduced a post-watershed spin-off called Hollyoaks Later where the action gets hot…and of course, Lady Gaga wore a burka decorated with raccoon tails to generate a different kind of interest, or, perhaps, to hide her poker face.

What is it with this obsession about the bodies and bodily functions of other people?  Why is it that the bodies of the British Royals that have the chattering classes… well, chattering.

There was the incident where Prince Harry’s nether regions were revealed to all and sundry – or at least to those who wanted to see why what happened in Las Vegas did not stay there.

There was the infamous God Save The Queen incident where 91-year-old Prince Philip, wearing a kilt for the Gathering for the Highland Games in Scotland, appeared to be following tradition.

Now there is the spate of magazines embroiled in the “publish and be damned” attitude that comes with the knowledge that any subsequent court fees will be peanuts when compared to the income from the number of copies sold, and outdone by the amount of publicity the  rags garner,. And there is always the possibility that the Palace will accept an out-of-court settlement, as tends to happen.

I would be the last one to say that paparazzi have the divine right to hound and haunt people. To me, privacy is a holy issue; I take my own and that of others very, very seriously.

However – and this is a big however – I cannot see from where people who have their privacy invaded in a way that could have been avoided, get the idea that they have been wronged.

A private holiday is supposed to be just that.  That is why we use the terms “inaccessible island” “secluded chateau” and “isolated love-nest”. But when zoom lenses enter the fray, a home is not a castle.

However, in the short time I spent on the broadcast media, I was taught that we should treat every mike as live, and every camera as taking us.  Old wives reminds us that “if you want to keep a secret, keep it to yourself”.

On the same principles, if you don’t want hacks to photograph you in compromising positions, please get naked behind the  curtains, and do not let anyone suck your toes when  there are other people around… especially if you are a Royal – or married to someone other than the person with who you are mucking about.

If you do, and someone finds a market for the inevitable photographs, you can say that you are saddened, and issue all the scathing press releases you want; the damage would have been wrought. Whether it is in the local blogosphere or mainstream media, on in an international magazine or newspaper, you may be sure that the escapade will find an audience if it is published or broadcast.

Peeping Toms are not just dirty old men in even dirtier raincoats armed with binoculars. They exist in offices and shop floors; on committees and in the street.

I do not consider myself a “public person” – yet if I go to a restaurant with a friend, I lose count of the people who stare at me in quasi-recognition. If my friend happens to be someone whose face is more familiar, people’s heads tend to go like Ping-Pong balls. It is as annoying as it is unjustifiable; no wonder some people wear wigs and sunglasses when they go to Sliema or Valletta (but their voices and mannerisms give them away).

That having been said, there are several people – politicians, models, media personalities, actors – who thrive on the attention of others.  It is so obvious that some of them actually stage their “wardrobe malfunctions” and “trysts”.  There are people like Carly Rae Jepsen, who describe themselves as “victims of hackers”.

The question begs itself – why do you have hours of sex-tape type footage, and stashes of X-rated pictures of yourselves and others on your telephone or computer, if you know there is the possibility however remote, that someone will hack you, filch them, and place them online – even if it’s not for money?  It is, by the way, even more possible and plausible that an ex-lover or ex-friend will post this pornography out of revenge.

Damage Control will often have a Streisand Effect.

The invasion of privacy of the Royals has been called grotesque, as well as “a service to readers”. It inevitably harkened back to the hounding of Princess Diana.  Royals are considered ‘interesting’ in the ordinary course of things, and even more so  if they wear sticking plasters with cartoon characters, or if they  go to a gym or purchase sweets from a shop ‘like commoners’. So it stands to reason that scenes that are considered racy would garner a far wider audience.

As long as there is a market for thus material, it will continue to be produced, and flogged…not necessarily to the highest bidder.


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