The Internet Sex Tape Phenomenon – What does it say about us as a society?

Pamela Anderson. Paris Hilton. Kim Kardashian. Tulisa Contostavlos?

In the wake of the most recently aired bit of dirty laundry to have hit the interwebs – in the form of N Dubz singer and X Factor judge Tulisa sharing an intimate moment with her ex boyfriend – the internet sex tape phenomenon has reared its head once again, bringing with it the question of why, and how, and who the hell cares?

Having originally brought with it a massive stigma, the inhabitants of today’s world seem a lot less shocked by the emergence of such videos. Whereas once upon a time even nude photos could derail careers, today even sex-tapes are often non-events, and can even help boost a celebrity’s profile. In fact, there hasn’t even been one celebrity sex tape that has significantly had a negative impact.

Perhaps we have become desensitized to it, what with the sheer amount of similar acts we see on a daily basis. Take for example Skepta’s music video for “All Over The House” which was released sometime last year – arguably it’s a sex tape in itself.

That’s not to say that no one had a negative reaction to the most recent events, Twitter was in uproar, embroiled in confusion with many arguing ‘who cares,’ while others expressed their disgust and disappointment at Tulisa’s actions.

This disgust became all the more so when her debut single as a solo artist was released a couple of days later, lyrics the likes of: “forgive me for what I have done, we are young….” causing many to believe that it was a publicity stunt. Whether or not it was of course will never be known for sure – but the fact that it could even have worked as one raises various issues.

As Tulisa herself said in the video blog which she posted addressing her transgressions, “When you judge someone, it doesn’t define the person you’re judging, it defines you.”

This is particularly poignant in the fact that people went so far as to critique her performance in the said sex tape, raising the issue that in fact, what may be most worrying is that we as a society seem to deem celebrities as public property.

Just as in the case of Rihanna and Chris Browns ‘will they or wont they’ get back together following featuring on each other’s tracks earlier this month, the fact remains that really, it’s none of our business.

Fair enough it could be argued that yes, they are role models and as such should act accordingly – but does anyone really believe that? Does being particularly talented at singing, or rapping, or acting, or anything that will put you in the limelight mean that by definition you are a perfect human being and as such will do no wrong? Of course not. As one of the most influential writers in the French Renaissance, Michel De Montaigne wrote: “Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom.”

And in turn, does being in the limelight mean that we are allowed to analyse, and judge, and expect perfection from these individuals who at the end of the day, are just human beings? Of course not. In reality, the fact that we find what sexual acts they commit with their partners behind closed doors fascinating, says more about us as a society, than what it does about them. After all, how many of these types of videos exist, but don’t go viral because you are not a household name, and as such, nobody cares.

In this respect, the way in which the likes of Tulisa have reacted to these types of videos is supremely commendable. “I’ve done nothing wrong whatsoever,” she said. “Justin is someone I was seeing from the age of 17 on and off for many years. By the time I was 19, we were together for a year and a half, I practically moved in with him and I loved him deeply. We talked about marriage, we talked about kids.”

“As you can imagine, I am devastated, heartbroken. When you share an intimate moment with someone that you love and care about and trust, you never imagine that footage will be shared with the world.” As such she reminds us that she is just a human being, causing many to put themselves in her shoes. What would you do? It’s easy to just dismiss, saying “I would never put myself in that position,” but you don’t know. You can’t say that.

As Bob Marley said: “Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be- but before you start pointing fingers… make sure you hands are clean!”

Are yours clean?


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