Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Talk Thursday (on Sunday): Exhibition and Privacy

Now there's a topic that's near and dear, especially recently. Before I go into that, though, let's just say that anyone who publishes a semi-weekly Web column/blog/ FaceSpace/Mypage/ Whatever can just about kiss any privacy about anything they've ever written on there, as well as any pictures they've posted, so long and goodbye. What's on the Net, stays on the Net, and they'll find it before your job interview and they'll check it out when you're called for jury duty and if you're a Christian, Saint Peter will probably ask you questions about it when you get to the pearly gates (including, but not limited to, "Is this you sitting on Mick Jagger's lap in your underwear?"). Okay? Okay.

Moving right along then: What sort of exhibitionism is still shocking in our age of telling everyone everything? And what can and should remain private? Or are we in a post-privacy era, where nobody can get away with anything anymore?

When Madonna posted her "Sex" book (says Jen, showing her age), any questions about any part of her anatomy we hadn't already seen were very quickly and messily cleared up. Not only did we see her naked, we saw her mind at work, and pardon me for saying so, Ms. Ciccone, but it wasn't a pretty picture. From that point forward, any "mystery" about the Material Girl was really more a case of what in hell was she going to do next. She continues to pull it off, which is kind of, well, shocking. But she doesn't pull it off in a shocking manner anymore. She just sort of casually reinvents herself every few years, and if there's any tiny part of her life we haven't seen, it's just because we haven't been paying attention.

On the other hand, we have Jodie Foster. (Yes, I'm going somewhere with this. Bear with me.) Ms. Foster is circumspect about her personal life to a degree that one might call paranoid until one realizes that she basically had no life of her own from the time she was about six until she went away to college. (The girl was photographed nude at the age of three, for God's sake, and the image is still used to this day on bottles of suntan lotion.) That she decided to slam the doors on any part of her life that wasn't immediately part of the spotlight not only took guts, it took that rarest of rare things in Hollywood; common sense. Non-Hollywood types didn't even know she was a lesbian until she thanked "my beautiful Cydney" in an acceptance speech back in 2008 (the rest of us had it figured out a long time ago - it's that gaydar thing). I don't know this for a fact but I suspect Ms. Foster doesn't have a Facebook page. If she does, it's probably for her production company.

So we have our two extreme examples, exhibition and privacy. Most of us live somewhere in between. Myself, personally, I get annoyed when I write one of these blog posts and get few or no responses. (Or, worse, those weird Asian responses that are in Han Chinese and when translated, seem to be something about sex, but are otherwise incomprehensible.) Nobody likes to be ignored. Yet it's interesting how people get bent out of shape when their Facebook posts, rather than garner "likes" from their friends, get them into trouble instead. I've heard of cheerleaders getting kicked off the squad when their parents or teachers found pictures of them drinking alcohol; disability benefits recipients losing those benefits because caseworkers found pictures of them partying at the beach; guys who lose jobs because their bosses find pictures of them doing mature things like making copies of their backsides on the office copy machine. Some have thrown public hissy fits. Some have even threatened lawsuits. For getting in trouble for doing stuff that there's absolute proof (including written confessions, in plenty of cases) they did it. I wish I could sit in on some of those depositions, because what we have here, folks, is a case of technology running much faster than our ability to cope with it.

In my case, I didn't get into all that much trouble because I expressed an opinion rather than admitting to doing something like, I dunno, copying my backside on the office copier. (There'd be more evidence; the silly thing would have shattered like a cracked egg.) But, ironically, that's the pattern of my life. I only ever got into trouble for opening my mouth at the wrong time in front of the wrong people, most often in high school, and most often there in front of one particular social sciences teacher who should have retired about ten years before he met me. Now that I have a keyboard and a domain name, I can get into even more trouble, and without even trying too hard. So can we all. We're both much weaker and much more powerful than we realize. You'll note, for example, I did two Talk Thursdays in a week and not only did the earth fail to crack asunder, but California did not fall into the ocean. I have to admit I'm a tiny bit disappointed about that.


Cele said...

I feel all mixed emotion about Madonna. Admiration for her talent, and total frustration at her marketing technique (a philosophy that is stil out of my realm of understanding - hense my not looking at pictures in the "Sex" book.)

Jodie Foster is what a lady should be, something Hollywood and the Western culture seem abherent to produce anymore... a picture brought to mind is that of my step daughter proudly belching and farting in a room full of people - I don't care if they are related in some way.

As to blogs, I say keep your wordstruthful and keep them sweet.
I love your blog. Mine apparent, gives me hives lately.

Jen said...

Truthful's never been the problem. It's the whole sweet part. I resigned as the Queen of Snark when I met Cranky Flier ( because I was obviously outclassed, but I haven't quite been able to leave the sarcasm behind. Maybe this'll help: