The rise and rise of celebrity sex tapes: What does this mean for young people today?
by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Special Guest Blogger for Bish)
Most famous for the art of the celebrity sex tape is Paris Hilton, whose tape ‘One Night in Paris’ catapulted her to international fame. More recently, pop star Kesha was caught red handed in a grainy picture that clearly showed her face as well as a mystery white substance splattered across her breasts, and a few months back, Paramore’s Hayley Williams accidentally leaked a topless picture of herself to thousands of twitter fans. Laurence Fishburne’s (Morpheous from The Matrix) daughter, Montana, went the whole hog earlier this year, declaring to the press that her life ambition was to be a porn star, and then, er, got stuck in. It’s not a one off thing either- curvy famous-for-not-much socialite Kim Kardashian, rocketed to fame after her sex tape with R&B singer Ray J hit the headlines, and last year Rihanna’s private pictures meant for ex-boyfriend Chris Brown found their way on to the internet.
There’s no doubt that this celebrity success has influenced other young people into taking the same route. Ultimately, it’s a matter of judgement- some young people may think it’s a great idea that has been made more accessible by celebrity endorsement, whilst others may realise the damaging aspects of sex on film. Celebrity sex tapes often offer another marketable aspect of a celeb’s brand, and there’s always some die hard, inquisitive fans that hanker to know their idols both inside and out. Nineteen-year-old Montana Fishburne has now launched a career in porn, and told The Hollywood Reporter: ‘I’ve watched how successful Kim Kardashian became and I think a lot of it was due to the release of her sex tape.”
So how does this affect those of us who look up to- and perhaps even idolise- these celebs? What does this mean for that phrase that’s so often thrown about by politicians and campaigners alike- ‘the sexualisation of children’?
Seeing your favourite celebrity bare their bits on camera can be oddly encouraging, and if you’re already into their music, a sex tape can seem like just another fashion statement. There’s a different rule for celebrities though- often their careers can blow up as a result (Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton) or their fans will shower them with unwarranted support (Hayley Williams, I’m looking at you). But in the real world, sex tapes are less glamorous- they can be humiliating, and often have the potential to come back and haunt you when you least expect it.
UK law states that it’s illegal to make or own images or video featuring under 18s engaging in sexual activity, even if it’s of yourself. Think about it- five years down the line and you’re in that all important interview, suited up and eager to impress. Your future boss gives you a funny look and you find out later that recognises you from the amateur porn video you shot with your ex boyfriend/girlfriend in the spare room when you were seventeen. And once the sex tape or pictures fall into the wrong hands, you could find yourself in trouble. Nasty break ups can lead to all sorts of heartless revenge.
Sexualisation is a strange word- and often in this context, it suggests that young people don’t own their sexuality and sexual feelings. Instead, there’s an overwhelming sway of opinion that believes young people have sexualisation thrust upon them. That’s a bit of a reductive view, but celebrity role models don’t help when they set these sorts of examples. Whether they like it or not, celebrities are role models, and sometimes it’s difficult to sift through the mixed messages they give out. It can be easy to be pressured or persuaded, but your sexuality is just that- YOURS- so own it and don’t let anyone bully you into doing something you don’t want to do. Sexualisation is a thorny issue, and one I’ll expand on in another blog.
(Massive thanks to Reni! Bish)