I am aware it’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy. However I am pleased to report that just because one has stopped writing about sex doesn’t mean one has stopped having it.
I found myself watching yet another documentary on Netflix the other day, Netflix is definitely partly responsible for my lack of posts last year. This one was called The American Meme which tells the story of various social media ‘stars’ and how one post can literally change someones career overnight in either direction. It cleverly captures the rise and fall of many Americans seeking their fifteen minutes of fame for as many likes and followers as they can muster. Most of them have figured out a way to get paid through online exposure, #trendsetting and/or advertising. Some go so far as to set-up personas and accounts for their newborn children that also make them money, others propel themselves into the vortex of addiction in order to fulfil bookings and none of them seem to realise how strange it is that they are in a room full of people but living through a phone. I’m not knocking it merely commenting on it.
The story begins of course with our old friend Paris Hilton who really started the whole thing. She seemed to bring the reality to reality TV in the early noughties and even though so many of us at the time loved to hate Paris we could not tear our eyes away from her. From paparazzi It Girl turned social media Queen she certainly found a way to make her fame pay (although I’m sure it’s a lot easier to do this when you’re a multi-millionaire by birth).
Let’s face it I’m probably the only person old enough in this room to remember The Simple Life so when most people think of Paris Hilton these days they either think of small fluffy Chihuahuas or the sex tape.
Way way back in 2004 Paris Hilton’s lovely ex boyfriend Rick Salomon released a sex tape of the couple ‘doing it’ that was not originally intended for release and had been shot by Salomon in 2001 when Paris was just 19 years old. He really went to town too: had a pornographic distributor, edited over an hour of footage, classily naming it ‘1 Night in Paris.’ Face palm. Notoriety breeds populism and at the time it was a scandal with a capital SC. Subsequently little Paris Hilton rapidly became the most talked about person in the world.
In the documentary Paris describes tearfully how violating it was for literally everyone in the world to watch, re-watch and wank off to her mistake. In interviews after The American Memes release she’s said frequently how she didn’t want to be ‘known for that’ referencing Princess Diana a lot and how she wanted to be viewed in that regal, perfect, Princess way which now is never going to be possible because people just think of her as the sex tape girl. Or as just another human?
As she cried into her diamond encrusted silk handkerchief I tried not to judge.
But privilege isn’t the reason this irked me. It irked me because by saying that she never wanted to be ‘known for that’ implies that there is something wrong with sex. It reinforces the shame that exists within our fucked up human psyche which is only exacerbated by repressed people and religions. Why must we be so embarrassed that we like to get off? That we like to watch porn, or make porn? Why do we play into these judgemental hands every time? She never once said she regretted making it and nor should she but she regretted that it got leaked! If you’ve got the balls to have sex in front of a filming camera then don’t come off all coy afterwards because you’re afraid of what everyone will say. Own it. You owned it in front of the camera with your clothes off, now own it with your clothes on.
The sad thing is that Salomon wouldn’t have been able to make her feel so violated if she wasn’t ashamed of what she’d done in the first place. What I found most interesting was the shame Paris expresses tells us more about ourselves than we realise. It shows us that as people we play many parts to many people in our lives and this deviation of character is largely driven by fear that someone ultimately will not like us when they discover who we truly are. Paris was more rocked by her inabilty to control the worlds perception of her than the fact that she had made a sex tape. She wanted people to think of her in a certain way and that decision, that control, was taken away from her having immediate knock-on effects to her chosen career as a ‘public figure’.
The reality is that none of us can ever control how people view us. We can control, generally speaking, what content we upload. We can detail narcissistic stories on Instagram and Snap-chat and show our ‘best selves’ after we’ve added filters and hashtags and photo-shop. We can create a picture that fits in with our own self image that is more often than not a projection of what we see as perfect and whatever we are identifying with that day. But we can never truly control somebody else’s reaction to any of it.
Even the more reason to just be yourself.
Maybe you don’t care what people think and are making a sex tape right now. Good for you. But maybe you hide behind your profile, posting doctored images of yourself because that’s how you measure your self worth. Maybe you’re considering making a sex tape to make somebody else like you more? If that is the case then STOP RIGHT THERE. Once it’s there it’s there forever so may I suggest you follow these simple sex tape rules before getting yourself into a sticky (!) irreversible situation.
Sex tape rule number 1: absolutely only ever let someone film you who you KNOW won’t show it and that’s even after you break up, block each other and never want to see each other again.
Sex tape rule number 2: always make sure the other person is just as incriminated in said sex tape as you are (if not more) so that they have less initiative to show it to the world.
Sex tape rule number 3 (and this is a big one) : if the risk of the tape ever being seen by anyone else on the planet is not a risk you are prepared to take then DO NOT MAKE A SEX TAPE.
It may be too late for Paris but it’s not too late for you.
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