The Fappening, a portmanteau of the internet slang word for masturbating “fapping” and the M. Night Shyamalan film The Happening, was the name giving to the August 31st mass hacking and distribution of celebrity nude photos. The “event” has mostly passed now, but it still leaves a pungent and distinct odor in its wake. The best way to describe it is as an entirely ugly affair. Not just because of the crimes committed and the massive invasion of privacy, but also the way in which it was received by various groups of people. Because of the sensational nature of this crime, everyone had something to say about it and the backlash it received, and often times what they had to say revealed things about certain individuals that were infinitely more shameful than any photograph leaked by the hackers.
Something I want you all to understand right away is that the “villains” of the Fappening were the people that hacked the photos, and the people that viewed and distributed them. Obviously there are different scales of blame here, and that you would be hard pressed to find someone on the internet that didn’t see at least one of those photos, but what needs to be understood is that those actions were wrong. If you can do that then you are already far beyond 90% of the rage and discussion that went on in the wake of this crime. “Fappeners” (Fappening Enthusiast), frantically seeking out a way to justify their actions are what fueled most of the discussion on this subject.
The main weapon held by the Fappeners was their ability to point out the hypocrisy surrounding this all. And oh boy was there a lot of hypocrisy. The same media outlets shunning this crime actively endorsing a leaked Hulk Hogan sex tape they came into possession of earlier, Patton Oswalt (who is usually hilarious by the way) shunning people who view the pictures as creeps on the same twitter account he made numerous comments on the dimensions and characteristics of the unfortunately named Anthony Weiner’s penis, and many more examples of duplicitous figures contradicting themselves with hypocritical points about their feelings on the leaks that make it impossible to take anything a public figure or news outlet says with any amount of sincerity. But here is the thing about all these arguments, they are just a case of tu quoque, an appeal to hypocrisy which is just another type of fallacy. They don’t address the point whatsoever. So what if what they are saying in this case comes off as disingenuous, they are still absolutely right. The truth is, you shouldn’t be viewing those pictures, and if you are you should at the very least accept that you are doing something wrong.
Another common argument made to justify the crime was the typical victim blaming “they shouldn’t have taken those pictures in the first place!” response that was made constantly. The odd thing about this argument was that it was commonly made by other celebrities and public figures. It’s a pretty nasty sentiment to have and I feel it was more of an excuse for them to pat themselves on the back rather than to tear down the victims. The most insufferable version of this came from other female celebrities who were not victims of the leak posting comments smugly declaring that all that hackers would find on their phones would be pictures of cute animals or food they’ve been eating. What makes this such an obnoxious comment to make is that it is the same kind of subtle slut-shaming you’d find among highschool girls tacitly stating that through the things they are not doing they are somehow more well adjusted and respectable individuals. And to be perfectly honest, I can understand actors sending lewd photos to each other since they are often in long distance relationships and people happen to enjoy sex, but what I don’t get is taking photos of plain pieces of bread and declaring that you are going to eat them. But that is just my perspective, because I sure as hell am not going to brag about the unnatural amount of lizard pictures I have on my phone.
And now we come to this, the most despicable thing that happened within this entire controversy: Donating to Charity. And no, I am absolutely not kidding when I say the most disgusting and lowest thing the Fappeners did was attempting to focus their efforts on charity. And thankfully, they were rejected…. twice. The common narrative the media had for this was that the Fappeners began to feel guilty about their activity and sought to cleanse their souls by donating money, but I know better. I know how these people think, and as someone who spends far too much time lurking on the internet, I can clearly see what these people are actually doing. These guys, for the most part, do not feel bad about their “fapping”. They don’t want to seek absolution for their misdeeds as if they were repentant petty criminals who have found God. No, what these people seek is protection. They want protection from criticism, from the perception people have of them, and the perception they have of themselves. No one wants to be seen as the bad guy, so by trying to twist the narrative into one with a “happy ending” they would try to play themselves off as misunderstood and lovable perverts with hearts of gold. But real life does not work that way and they were rebuffed, which they had already prepared for since they immediately started to twist the ones that rejected them and the media into being the “true villains”. What they don’t realize is how transparent they are, how a lot of us can see what they’re actually trying to do and how it certainly is not out of the goodness of their hearts. The reasons no charity would accept their blood money (or money associated with a decidedly different bodily fluid) is because it would be an insult to those hurt in the crimes to try and twist this incident into something that “turned out for the best”, and more importantly, because it would be terrible for business. No charity wants to be known as the group that accepts money from perverts, that’s just common sense. That perception would be perpetuated in the media for months and I doubt that would go unnoticed by frequent charity donators who don’t want to associate with that sort of thing. Because of these reasons, the cowardly tactic of hiding behind charity to justify the Fappeners’ actions was thwarted.
As I’ve said earlier, the events of the Fappening covered an ugly crime that fueled a lot of controversy and discussion. Most of it fueled by a staunch refusal on the Fappeners’ part to accept what they were doing as wrong. And it is so easy to fall into that trap in this case. It is almost like a “one vote does not make a difference” mentality people have, where they believe their action or inaction will not have any sort of consequence, but because so many people have that same sentiment the consequences become present. So they look for anyway to pass off what they have done as acceptable, not a big deal, or worse yet, justified. Accepting what you are doing is wrong and moving on is the best way to proceed in this situation. Looking for ways to pass the buck or blame everything and everyone but yourself turns you into something worse than a pervert who looks at stolen pictures, and that is someone who can’t be honest with themselves.