Friday, August 7, 2009

Give Vanessa Hudgens A Break

This week we've all been treated to Round 2 of the Vanessa Hudgens nude pictures scandal. And this time it's extra shocking and scandalous because...oh wait, actually it's just a stupid rehash of the previous immature freakout over leaked pictures that were meant to be private. Exciting!

Let's break down all of the nonsense that people have been saying about this since the "story" broke yesterday. (I'm not linking to any sites that have the pictures up. Try the usual gossipy suspects if you really must see them.)

1. Vanessa Hudgens is so stupid to let this happen again! Didn't she learn her lesson about naked pictures the first time?

This might be a valid point to raise if the pictures were actually new, but they're not. In fact, they're apparently a little bit older than the pictures that leaked last time and may have been taken when she was underage.
The pics have been pitched to various sites, including TMZ -- we turned them down. Several websites have published the photos, taken by Vanessa herself in her home. Vanessa's lawyer says the pics were taken when she was underage. As such, publication could be a federal crime...The lawyer has sent cease and desist letters to various websites that have published the photos, asserting the publication is both a crime and a violation her right of privacy. [TMZ]
If the pictures are years old and are being leaked by someone that she sent them to back then, there's nothing she can really do to prevent them from coming out now. It's not a matter of a lesson that she didn't learn, but rather it's unfortunately about a mistake that she can't unmake. And of course, we never hear "this loser ex-boyfriend/ex-friend/whoever is responsible is such a spiteful douchebag! Will they ever learn their lesson?"

2. She has a new movie coming out so she probably leaked the photos herself as a publicity stunt!

Considering that the movie she has coming out, Bandslam, is a PG-rated summer movie about high school kids in a band competition and not some kind of edgy 'playing against type' role for her, I kinda doubt that she'd go for a manufactured naked photo scandal to promote this one. If some goofy rumor had come out this week about her and Zac Efron getting engaged, breaking up, starring in a Dirty Dancing remake together, or whatever, it would be a lot easier to claim that as a free publicity grab for Bandslam. But naked pictures? I'm not buying it.

Also, if we're going to entertain the "she did it for the publicity!" claims, shouldn't we at least consider the opposite argument? Maybe the person who leaked the photos did want publicity for Vanessa...the negative, embarrassing kind. (Hey, maybe it was Ashley Tisdale and she did it because she wants Sharpay to end up with Troy if they ever make a fourth High School Musical movie! ...yeah, I'm kidding and I'm embarrassed that I was able to type that sentence without having to look up any HSM character names or plotlines.) If the person who has the photos is a pissed off ex-boyfriend or someone else with an agenda, it's possible, and the timing of the leaks would still make sense. But hey, why bother to even consider who might really be to blame when we've got a celebrity to gleefully tear down, right?

3. Disney should fire her for this!

That would be tricky considering that she's not working for Disney anymore. But what exactly would they be firing her for anyway? For having her privacy invaded? For making a bad decision about her private life when she was a teenager? For having a sex life at all? Stop me when I get close.

For the record, when the first "scandal" broke and Vanessa was between High School Musical movies, some people thought she would be dropped by Disney. But she issued an apology to her fans, saying that she was embarrassed and regretted taking the photos, and Disney put out a statement saying, "Vanessa has apologized for what was obviously a lapse in judgment...We hope she’s learned a valuable lesson."

And again, these were private photos, so I think her apology at the time was more than enough. It's not like she promised to be a squeaky clean Disney star and then turned around and immediately posed for Playboy or something. In an interview with GQ awhile back, Megan Fox was asked about the situation and I think her response is pretty awesome:

“With any of the Miley Cyrus shit, or any of that Vanessa Hudgens shit—I would never issue an apology for my life and for who I am. It’s like, Oh, I’m sorry I took a naked, private picture that someone is an asshole and sold for money. I’m sorry if someone else is a dick. No. You shouldn’t have to apologize. Someone betrayed Vanessa, but no one’s angry at that person. She had to apologize. I hate Disney for making her do that. Fuck Disney.”

Not much I can add to that.

4. What about the bad message that this sends to her fans?

Obviously nobody wants Vanessa's really young fans to get the idea that they should all start doing nude photo shoots in their bedrooms and emailing the results to their 12 year old boyfriends, but I really really doubt that that's going to start happening. I'm a lot more concerned about the negative messages that the reaction to this "scandal" will send to a lot of young women. Your body is something to be ashamed of. It's wrong to express your sexuality. Even if you're legally old enough to consent to sex. Even if you're in private. Even in the context of a relationship. Even if you choose to do it because you want to. (Especially then.) Good girls don't. Also, it's okay for us to judge each other and call each other sluts and whores, especially if we can do it anonymously on the internet.

5. She's a total slut/whore/tramp/skank/etc. because of these pictures!

No, she isn't. If you actually think this, you just might be a judgmental moron. And probably a hypocrite too.

She didn't do anything wrong. Maybe she used bad judgment in keeping these pictures or sending them to someone who ended up not being trustworthy, but so what? She was young, she made a mistake, and she learned from it in the most public and humiliating way possible. But there's nothing bad or wrong or dirty or slutty about taking naked pictures, just like there's nothing bad or wrong or dirty or slutty about being a sexually active young woman, as long as you're safe and comfortable and doing it because you want to. So let's stop the slut-shaming already and leave Vanessa alone!

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