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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Perez Hilton’s Miley Cyrus skirt-upshot brouhaha: Why is this *ever* okay?

Have you heard? Gossipmonger Perez Hilton is losing advertising at his self-named celebrity gossip site because he posted an “upshot” of a female superstar… that is, an up-the-skirt photograph that appeared to show that said female superstar was not wearing any underwear.

Now, anyone who knows even the slightest bit about the nasty cesspools in which celebrity gossip wallows knows that such photographs are, alas, typical fodder for bloggers like Hilton. This is precisely the kind of stuff that has garnered him huge traffic and ad revenues that were estimated in 2004 to be around $111,000 per month; even today, PerezHilton.com commands, up to $30,000 for a single ad via Blogads.
Why is this all of a sudden a problem? Fox News explains:

Gossip blogger Perez Hilton issued a warning to readers not to click for a photo of 17-year-old singer Miley Cyrus if they were “easily offended.”

The link was to an uncensored, up-the-skirt photograph of Cyrus stepping out of a car, seemingly without underwear.

While it was one thing for media outlets to publish pics of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears partying without panties a few years ago, the situation involving Cyrus is quite different, given that she is still a minor.

If only Hilton had waited six months — Cyrus will turn 18 this coming November — this wouldn’t had been an issue. Then, posting a photograph taken up a woman’s dress would have been absolutely fine. And anyway, now it’s all apparently a-okay hunky dory because Hilton has “proof” that Cyrus was wearing underwear. So everybody just relax!

But why are such photos ever okay? And why is everyone picking on Perez Hilton: Isn’t he just giving his audiences what they have clearly told him they want? Where’s the outrage at, you know, the entire fucking planet for making someone like Perez Hilton popular for peddling this shit in the first place?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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  • Brian

    I wish to be excluded from the “entire f***ing planet.” I can’t even stand People magazine, let alone the kind of hideously shallow, cruelly judgmental, reflexively sarcastic bilge purveyed by the likes of “Perez.”

    I think the invasion of Ms. Cyrus’ privacy – and any other woman similarly photographed – is horrible and disgusting, but if it provides sufficient outrage to bring down such a waste of DNA as “Perez,” then there may at least be a silver lining. Will it cause people to question the whole culture behind celebrity gossip-mongering? Sadly, probably not.

  • Perez Hilton is proof that not all humans are born with a sense of shame.

  • hergrace

    While I agree wholeheartedly with Brian, I fear we are in a minority to judge by the number of tabloid titles at my local grocery store, the bookstores, and the well-thumbed issues at the orthodontist’s office. As long as people are willing to pay good money for bilge, such as Perez Hilton will continue to thrive.

    I fear the culture of schadenfreude keeps the tabloids and paparazzi in business. It will be a glorious day, indeed, when they cease to be able to make a living off other people’s shame. (and yes, to all evidence the contrary, “celebrities” are human beings. I’m not so sure the same can be said for paparazzi and gossip-mongers.)

  • marshall

    They’re not ok. They never were, but our culture has made them ok – and the people of this country consume them without thought.

    This is the sort of thing that Romero needs to get ahold of and run with, the metaphor of actors trying to survive a zombie invasion where they end up being consumed – because really, that’s all their lives are to most people – there for our consumption.

  • Kathryn

    What’s particularly disgusting about this is that Hilton seemed to suggest with his picture doctoring and the way that he wrote about the pic that the young lady was not wearing underwear – and then when he got called on the fact that such a picture is highly dubious, said it was ok because she was wearing underwear really.

    Surely that’s some form of libel, to start with?

  • MaryAnn

    While I agree wholeheartedly with Brian, I fear we are in a minority to judge by the number of tabloid titles at my local grocery store, the bookstores, and the well-thumbed issues at the orthodontist’s office. As long as people are willing to pay good money for bilge, such as Perez Hilton will continue to thrive.

    Exactly. Obviously, I exclude myself from “the entire fucking planet,” too. But it’s not just Perez Hilton without a sense of shame: it’s everyone who produces and consumes this kind of “gossip.” And that’s a *lot* of people.

  • Drave

    Corey: Perez Hilton is proof that not all humans are born human.

  • M Rodriguez

    Hopefully either Miley Cyrus or her parents will consider legal action against this sorry excuse of a human being. Child pornography is illegal, and Miley is only 17.

  • RyanT

    Hopefully either Miley Cyrus or her parents will consider legal action against this sorry excuse of a human being. Child pornography is illegal, and Miley is only 17.

    The same parents who support her doing a strip pole dance or gyrating in her underwear on stage? Dream on. They are part of the problem.

    And according to this:


    Neither Miley nor her parents want to press any charges anyways.

  • Brian

    Is it possible that the simple proliferation of news and information has contributed to the slide in taste and decorum we’ve seen in the 21st century media? Even “legitimate” news outlets, competing with bloggers and everybody else in the 24-hour cycle, have become increasingly frenetic, shallow, and obnoxious in hopes of catching channel-surfers for more than a few seconds. Are tabloids and gossip sites racing to the bottom to grab attention with something tackier and more awful than the next guy?

    Is it our fault for being so jaded and easily bored that we get increasingly desperate attempts to grab our attention by shocking us? Is the whole world of tabloids and “entertainment news” part of a genuine, concerted effort to distract us from the important matters of our government, economy, environment, and world . . . or are we distracting ourselves? Have we just given up, faced with too much information and not enough ability to process it critically, and decided to amuse ourselves with the foibles of the rich and famous instead? Are our own identities so fragile now that we need to see celebrities humiliated to make us feel better about ourselves?

  • Dokeo

    This is disgusting. In many, many ways. But Mary Ann, in your outraged critique of this bozo’s assholery, you link to his website – generating traffic and ad revenue and SUCCESS for this fuckwad!

    I remember being whammied by this once before: on of your posts about Tucker Max. I clicked on the link expecting to go to somewhere (Wikipeida or similar) that would tell me who he was. Instead, I ended up on his site, where after about 2.5 seconds I was not happy about being there and was even unhappier about having increased his site traffic and ad revenue.

    I’m not a journalist – are there standard rules about including links to basic sources, even if they are unsavory? Is it OK for you to give descriptions/warnings about where these links go?

  • Chris

    Setting aside the invasion of privacy, and the offensiveness of even TRYING to take the pictures…. WHY? Who the hell cares? Does that turn people on? Not me, personally. It seems like one of those things that we’re SUPPOSED to get all excited about, but when it comes down to it, meh.

  • Lisa

    It all started with the nipple slip and it’s gone downhill from there. I think it’s completely vile.

    I’ll probably get a lot of shit for saying this, but some girls go looking for that sort of attention. MOST DO NOT and it is disgusting that some guy can shove a camera at you, take that type of photo and not get some sort of fine, restraining order, police warning, jail time, put on some sort of girlfriend beware internet list. But I can’t see Paris Hilton getting upset over it, though. It’s so Girls with Low Self-Esteem!

    I agree with what Brian said about the pressures of a 24 hours news cycle.

  • Lucy Gillam

    I remember Emma Watson’s comment on this practice, saying that the very first day it was legal for photographers to shoot up her skirt, they did it, and how it made her feel. I don’t accept that me wearing a skirt makes it morally and ethically okay for someone to take close-ups of my crotch as I get out of a car, even if I’m 40.

  • Lisa

    It used to be that men who did this type of thing, did it furtively or were ostracised by society for being complete perverts. Now, it’s on the internet and it’s a well paid job!

  • Dave

    Keep in mind that not all instances of these female crotch shots are done my men who shove a camera up a woman’s dress.

    Do you honestly feel that Britney Spears accidentally showed her lady junk a few years ago? This was obviously done on purpose. Her skirt was hiked up so high when she was sitting in Paris Hilton’s car, you not only see her junk, you see her c-section scar as well. She was basically sitting bare-ass in the car. Then when she exits out of the car, Paris grabs a hold of Britney’s left leg while Brit’s right leg is already out of the car, giving an extended, clear, wide open look into her nether region. Later, Britney posted on her website something to the effect of “Thank God for Victoria’s Secret new underwear line that’s coming out soon, hehe.”

    Does that sound like someone who regrets having done this, someone who didn’t purposely do this?

    Yes, it is wrong to shove a camera up a woman’s dress, but clearly, not every instance should be treated equally, especially when it is obvious that some women are exposing their genitals on purpose. I don’t think Miley would do it on purpose, so for that I’m completely against this Perez idiot for posting a pic of it, especially since she is underage. But Britney, Cassie, Ashley Greene, among other female celebs, all either took photos of their genitals on purpose, or had photos taken of their genitals on purpose. Don’t mix this in with “oh, it’s just a bunch of men taking these pics without women knowing” nonsense.

  • MaryAnn

    As I posted in the other thread, Dave, just because some women willingly participate in prostitution does not mean that prostitution is not exploitive. Ditto with women who may (or may not) have deliberately flashed paparazzi.

    The point remains that there is a significant percentage of the public that finds it amusing or arousing that a woman might accidentally or “accidentally” expose herself. And advertisers are okay with catering to that percentage of the public until one of those exposed is a mere few months under a certain age. If corporate America is offended by the crotch of a 17-and-a-half-year-old, it should be offended by that of an 18-year-old, too. But it isn’t.

  • Dave

    And MaryAnn, as I mentioned in the other thread, a 17 year old is not an adult by legal definition, but an 18 year old is. That’s why “corporate America” is offended by the crotch of a 17 year old underaged girl, while an 18+ year old, especially one that purposely flashes herself like Britney, is ok – in terms of legality.

    I don’t know why you are talking about how a public finds it amusing or arousing for a woman to flash her genitals, yet you and others who are watching and pausing this Dr. Who episode to catch a glimpse of his nude/non-nude crotch is not considered something of amusement to you. Why would you do that then, to test and make sure the pause button on your DVD remote works?

  • MaryAnn

    As I mentioned in the other thread, Dave: Go away. I am not arguing with you, and I request that others not argue with you.

  • JoshDM

    If I had to go to a stupid celebrity photo site, I much prefer What Would Tyler Durden Do over Perez Hilton.

  • MaryAnn

    WWTDD is just as obnoxious in how it treats female celebs.

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