On September 13th 2012 it became public knowledge that there were topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge, and so what if they’d been published by a French magazine, these pics were available to view online within hours, horny bucks around the world swiftly endured the most regal phwoargasm.
Despite being a naturally curious man, I couldn’t bring myself to look at the photos. I’m not sure why, I mean I’ve seen a variety of celebrity sex tapes (all of them utterly terrible in terms of dialogue and technique and incredibly off-putting, killing any kind of arousal), and thanks to working a steady amount of blue collar jobs, and living in a working class household, it was during my childhood and teenage years that I encountered numerous tabloid shots of famous clunge and rich titties, a veritable visual feast of nipslips and upskirts. Yet for some reason when it came to the Duchess, I felt disgusted. I had heard the pictures were taken from five hundred metres away, and anything photographed from such a distance seemed a gross intrusion of privacy.
Jesus, have I become a Royalist? A defender of the crown? I remember taking great pity on Prince Harry after he was caught out on his Vegas bender, and now poor Duchess Kate. Was it simply that as the most conservative contributor to HST, I felt obliged to be outraged?
There is a certain lowlife quality required to become a paparazzi photographer. You need to be willing to squirm around like a peeping Tom, and then sell your filth to the highest bidder. It really is a despicable trade. I can imagine the pap who took the infamous photographs of Kate squatting down like a sniper, scoping through the lens, making some anguished panting noise as he leered at the Duchess, his heart beating rapidly; lizardly lecherous, he leant forward and snapped away, getting off on the spectacle in a way akin to Vic Reeves comically rubbing his thighs in front of a beautiful woman on the madcap comedy game show Shooting Stars.
I think it was Bob Marley who once sang “So while you point your fingers / someone else is judging you”. If I was to play Devil’s advocate somewhat then there could also be an argument that the paparazzi as a collective bunch are documenting Cultural History and therefore their trade has some purpose. The iconic shot of a shaven headed Britney Spears in the middle of her meltdown, the pictorial documentation of Michael Jackson’s manic final decade, such as his odd decision to dangle one of ‘his children’ over a balcony, and the frantic furore in the hours before the King of Pop’s untimely death; these ‘events’ and many others have undeniably become significant contributions to popular culture thanks to the lurking lens.
According to a recent Guardian article all women, not just those who are Royal, are becoming ‘victims’ of the paparazzi culture (http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2012/sep/22/creepshots-revenge-porn-paparazzi-women). Unfortunately this trend has shown its ugly side in ‘photobombing’ and ‘creepshots’. It seems that you can’t go on a night out without getting snapped on some moron’s camera phone, and then Facebook tagged in an uncompromising position. Or inadvertently you become the star of some pranksters bit of fun, as they sneak up behind you and gurn like a slapped twat whilst their pal takes a picture on his iPhone. The ‘creepshot’ online phenomenon is rather disturbing. As covert perverts snap cleavage and pert bottoms without consent.
Perhaps ‘photobombing’ can be excused a little more, since the majority of shots are humorous and not intended to be vicious or mean-spirited. Yet this ‘creepshot’ stuff, man. These guys (and girls?) are paparazzi in training. Waiting for the right moment, whether it be taking shots at the gym of toned ladies in yoga pants, or following some milfy looking woman up the escalator in a shopping centre trying to zoom up her dress. There’s something uncomfortably sinister about such activity, particularly when the images get circulated.
When I was a teenager we didn’t have technology like that at our disposable. You couldn’t have replicated covert perving on polaroid cameras, or even disposable cameras; because the former was too big to carry around and the latter would need to be developed at your local high street pharmacist. Boys being boys I reckon that some of us would have succumbed to temptation had we had today’s technology, and created playground currency by the sharing photographs in exchange for curly wurly’s and sherbet dips.
I think we’re currently unsure about the boundaries of sharing. Nowadays we willingly share our personal photo albums with acquaintances and at times… everybody, as opposed to only close friends and family. The private is perusable.
Celebrities too have redefined the role of the paparazzi by organizing their own photo opportunities, staging topless or scantily clad beach poses, even leaking sex tapes. We, Joe and Josephine Public also tend to think that we’re important, and that we deserve to get seen and heard, that people care about what we do. This stems from the ever expanding narcissistic delusion that comes through social networking. The celebrity and the civilian have somehow found their lives blended together. An interest appears to be there for any pound of flesh.
No newspaper or magazine in the UK wants to touch the photos of Kate. This may be because of the Leveson spotlight; it might even be because of some post-Diana respect to Prince William’s wife. Almost certainly it is because there is a widespread amount of goodwill towards the Duchess throughout the media. In terms of PR, she hasn’t put a foot wrong. Neither has William, and they seem to be an ideal couple to represent the Royal Family in the 21st Century, in that despite living a life of privilege they both possess a down to earth likeability, as recently demonstrated during their numerous appearances throughout the London Olympic Games. Nobody wants to destroy or taint, what is a pretty pure image.
Though even writing about the story will score you the hits, and sell the papers. The media, though respectful to the Royal Couple, will not ignore the story; the flames will continue to be fanned. In fact traffic to this very site will probably come from this notated rabble because people have googled ‘Kate Middleton topless’. You can take a judgemental stance; occupy the moral high ground, but still profit from an invasion of privacy.