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 the United States has viewed graphic content from the only private part of their lives.
This era of celebrity sex tapes stems from our fascination with reality TV and obsession with fame and sex, crowned by this technological revolution where everyone has a video camera and computer.
Hardcore pornographic movies have been around since adolescence, but one of the first porn stars to emerge was an unnamed movie showing 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 just 14 minutes of action, punctuated by dialogue like, “Where’s the zoom on this?”
But Farrell’s career likely won’t waver, and he could even benefit from what has become yet another outlet that celebrities can now work on. Some critics feel that celebrities may even be involved in “leaks” of sex videos. It makes them more interesting and promotes their name.
Although our obsessive celebrity culture has been on the rise since the 1990s, this public desire to see their sex tapes is a new development. Why? Partly because in our culture, the media releases so much personal information about celebrities that people feel like they know them on an intimate level.
After the Paris Hilton sex tape came to light, her shallow resume grew, and her damn dog even wrote a book! In 2005, the seventh most searched Yahoo term in the world was “Paris Hilton.” His tape is just one well-known example in the celebrity porn trade, increasing dramatically with every innovation in motion picture technology.
In the past, Hollywood studios worked hard to curb inappropriate behavior. Celebrities under contract had to sign moral clauses, but now celebrities are constantly pushing the 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 funny thing is that, although people eagerly delve into the distorted values of the media, what we expect of ourselves or of our politicians is radically different.
As a United States senator, your career would be ruined if your sex tape was leaked. An ordinary citizen like me or you would be looked down upon. For example, a former Taiwanese council woman was involved in a sex scandal with her husband. She was described as embarrassing and forced to leave office. On the other hand, icon Paula Abdul had a sexual affair with a contestant on “American Idol” but remains a judge even after recordings and phone records showed her relationship with the contestant … but the network claimed there was no evidence .
What do these cases say about our society and our values? Why does our culture reward celebrities with advertising for their lewd acts?