The plan was to write about the ephemeral flavors of Mello Yello—the local started stocking it recently, and I bought a bottle today—or to belly up to the trio of tunes I’ve been circling for the next Triple Threat column. Ultimately, though, my Facebook news feed won out, because all anybody wants to share today are think pieces about why anyone actively seeking out leaked, naked snapshots of actress Jennifer Lawrence should be drawn and quartered, burned at the stake, left in a gutter to die. The fan narrative so rapidly coalescing—or shoveling a moat—around this particular “scandal” belies Lawrence’s people’s princess aura. I haven’t clicked the links or Googled the incendiary pictures, and have no plans to do so; really, I’m just dropping by today to roll my eyes, cop a few cinnamon graham crackers, and blithely coin the phrase “porn shaming.”
Loosely speaking, “porn shaming” flips the script on this brand of inadvertent self-exposure so that the exposed becomes the victim, and the invisible, prurient masses who would seek out video, photographs, or other such material join the leaker/hacker/hater in the time-out corner, rhetorically speaking. However, the irony of a device like “porn shaming” is two-fold, and curious. First, the news cycles fly by so quickly, with so many data points riding each wave, that being a celebrity whose naked snapshots somehow found their way onto the Internet doesn’t really qualify as news. In five days, no tongues will cluck over this; Cee Lo Green’s eyebrow-raising Twitter pontifications will reverberate longer.
Second, the online wags that so eagerly engage in “porn shaming” and its motley kin—slut-shaming, trials-by-media, crucifixions so lockstep they can seem by-committee—are the same outlets that perpetuate the illusion that celebrity idolatry is a worthwhile national pastime, transforming a beautiful, talented, and/or fortunate few into paparazzi-stalked demigods. This creates a feedback loop where we—the editorial we and the cultural we—elevate these gifted strangers to impossibly high pedestals, then chastise one another for being so unconsciously obsessed with them that we pounce whenever there's an opportunity to see them unclothed, literally or figuratively speaking. All this mania: in an ideal world, we'd shrug our shoulders and then turn back to the specifics of our own, fleeting lives.