Inflammatory Article Wonders If Hacked Celebrities Were “Asking For It”?

(San Francisco Chronicle)

By Daniel Gates


Scarlett Johansson

(San Francisco Chronicle)

The celeb hacking scandal that led to the FBI’s Operation Hackerazzi arrest of Christopher Chaney earlier this week is generating new controversy, thanks to an Associated Press article asking whether Scarlett Johansson and other Hollywood stars should be blamed.

Frazier Moore, an AP television writer, poses the question in an inflammatory article titled, “The Naked Truth: Stars Are Asking to be Hacked.” “Maybe it’s not fair to blame the victim,” opens Moore, acknowledging Chaney’s alleged practices as “predatory” and quoting the U.S. Attorney’s comment that hackers who engage in such activity are “scum.”

He then writes, “Poor Scarlett. On the other hand… really?!” Moore asks, “What was going on in Johansson’s pretty head when she, like so many, snapped candid self-portraits without figuring out that: (a) She’s a lovely woman. (b) She’s a famous woman. (c) She’s a highly marketable woman whose every move, clothed or unclothed, is of interest to a public salivating for details.”

He later says, “In this era of digital snooping, why would any celebrity delude himself that his or her physical seclusion guarantees privacy? However high the walls surrounding one’s property and however well-staffed one’s security detail, why would any celebrity store nude photos on any electronic device that connects to the Internet,” Moore continues, “unless, of course, the celeb is a closet exhibitionist and secretly hopes the stuff will go viral.”

The article wraps us like this: “Sure, Johansson is one of many victims of cyber-hacking. Maybe she was also asking for it.” Wow. It’s a position we’ve seen other commentators take, but it’s worth pointing out a few things. First, while Johansson and other celebrities might be “highly marketable,” Chaney himself describes his invasive behavior as “addictive” and never sought to sell any images for profit.

Also, while the article focuses on “nude” pictures, the more than 50 victims in the case include celebs whose private pictures were not naked or sexual in nature, which works against the notion that they’re all “closet exhibitionists.” Further, regardless of whether it’s wise for a celebrity – or anyone – to store compromising photos on their personal computers and mobile devices, the hacking was done without their knowledge or consent. That’s why it’s “hacking.”

If Scarlett Johansson – or Mila Kunis or any Hollywood actress – ever wanted to “leak” scandalous pictures online, she could do so without having Christopher Chaney break into her account and breach her privacy. Finally, the deliberately controversial language in wondering whether a woman was “asking for it” when she’s violated seems dangerously loaded, especially in an age when personal privacy both in and out of the home seems to be under threat.

We want to know what you think. Are the victimized celebrities partially to blame? Were they “asking for it”?

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