Of all the rationally irrational fears I have (and I have many), my nudes being leaked remains firmly in my top three. It’s a fear shared by many women – even in the most secure relationships, a niggling doubt that your (privately sent) privates will end up online persists. And for female celebrities, the fear is even more acute – the potential level of public humiliation is raised to a global scale.
And these fears are, sadly, justified. After the so-called “Fappening” or “Celebgate” leaks of 2014, where hackers leaked the nude images of over 100 celebrities, including Rihanna, Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson, this week they have struck again.
This time, the attack is closer to home, but with notably less fanfare. Hackers have deserted Hollywood for the cobbles of some of the country’s most famous sets this week – EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Coronation Street – and are now leaking the private images and videos of female soap stars.
EastEnders actress Tamzin Outhwaite is the latest victim of the hack, with topless shots of her surfacing online yesterday, but she is by no means the only one. Other famous faces, including Coronation Street’s Faye Brookes, Melissa Johns and Kym Marsh, as well as Hollyoaks’s Jennifer Metcalfe, have all had pictures shared without their consent.
“This is becoming an increasingly big problem for female TV stars,” a source close to Outhwaite said. “It has already hit several actresses and Tamzin is the latest to suffer. It’s very upsetting, but seems to be a fact of life in the spotlight.”
Our outrage, it would seem, has been entirely spent. The leftover charge can’t even muster up a solidarity hashtag
It may be an “increasingly big problem”, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it wasn’t even occurring. Five actresses, from some of the country’s most beloved shows, are clearly victims of a coordinated attack – but I’ve seen more said about the criminality taking place in their respective storylines than the security breaches affecting them in real life.
It’s worth noting, of course, that UK soap stars don’t have the vast followings of their Tinseltown counterparts. But still, in the face of the current, ongoing conversations around #MeToo, the silence around the latest spate of celebrity leaks is uncomfortable.
Where’s the outrage? Is it that your privacy being violated simply isn’t newsworthy anymore? Now, it seems, the public getting to see your bits at random intervals is part and parcel of the fame game – the price you pay for being on the telly.
2014’s “Celebgate” had felt like a breaking point. More than 400 images were leaked on the messaging boards 4chan and Reddit, and many threatened legal action. The relentless media campaign led to the arrest, and imprisonment for 18 months, of one of the men behind the operation, Ryan Collins. With its flagrant sexism it was arguably something of a catalyst, which led to the various conversations we are having about women in Hollywood today.
The “soap celebgate” iteration, however, is characterised by more of a deep sigh than a call to action. We have either become so accustomed to the “new normal” of celebrities losing their privacy and dignity or to languidly scrolling through celebrity nudes ourselves, that it doesn’t quite register in the way it once did four years ago.
It’s not even the first time soap stars have been targeted – Sally Lindsay and Catherine Tyldesley from Coronation Street had pictures leaked online last year, and Kym Marsh has been targeted more than once already. Our outrage, it would seem, has been entirely spent. The leftover charge can’t even muster up a solidarity hashtag.