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September 18, 2011

Here's What I Think About Scarlett Johansson's Naked Pictures






Okay, so Mrs. Muggins and I get back from our Kauai getaway the other night. We part company, each to get on with his/her life in his/her respective segment of Japan—I in the urban east and she in the radiation-free rural west. I wake up early the next morning all refreshed and invigorated and rebooted and what have you, almost salivating to get cracking on the long to-do list, when all of a sudden I’m blindsided by the Daily Beast headline…

Alleged Johansson Nude Pics Leak

…and immediately I’m all like:

Crap.

“Crap,” because, you know, there goes the whole day.

First I do a Google image search, but this simply plunges me into a funhouse full of mirrors a la the climactic showdown of Bruce Lee and the warlord Khan in Enter the Dragon. Which naked Scarlett Johanssons are the real naked Scarlett Johanssons? It seems an entire Division I conference of sorority girls has been recruited to serve as body doubles for fake Scarlett nudes, some of which look reasonably credible when viewed as thumbnails. I return to the news for more details, half hoping that the whole thing is a hoax so that I can get on with my productive day.

“One of the images seems to show the star of Vicky Cristina Barcelona in a towel, taking a picture of her naked backside.”

Ah… Well then. If that’s all this is, then Condition Redpalms might be called off after all. Just the buttocks, then? Why didn’t you say so? Scarlett’s buttocks are…well, a bit like Dairy Queen’s hamburgers, really. They’re fine, they’re appetizing, they’ll sustain you well enough—they just aren’t what made the franchise famous. So stand down, mates! At ease, and all that tommyrot. To be sure, I’ll check out Scarlett’s buttocks at some point during the busy day, perhaps squeezing them in somewhere between the laundry and running to the bank.* But then there’s this…

“The other photo shows Johansson topless.”

Aww…crap…

So, now that I know exactly what I’m looking for, it’s back to the image search, where I easily pinpoint the two relevant thumbnails. I decide to ease myself in with the buttocks pic, which is magnificent, as buttocks pics go, and then, taking a deep breath, open the topless one, and it’s…it’s…

Well, I mean, my God, just look at it.

When some blood finally seeps back into my skull, I realize that it’s a little too late to contemplate the morality of my actions. There are some pertinent questions concerning the viewing of stolen private pictures, but I am going to dump them into a long footnote so that I can instead narcissistically tell you how the rest of my day would unfold.**

To build up some morning momentum, I decide to knock off some easy tasks first, so I sign over a royalty check to Gary (my cover artist and consiglieri) and prep a complimentary book for mailing to a reader who sent me an uplifting email. Then I open the topless picture and stare at it. Then I go to the post office. Then I come back and open the topless picture again, and stare at it some more. Then I start the laundry. Then I stare at the topless picture for a while. I’m getting spoiled at this point and feel a gnawing frustration at the only partial view of the left breast. I think I would do anything—even purchase and listen to every track on Scarlett’s album of Tom Waits covers—to get her to roll just a wee bit to her left. Then it is time for lunch.

After lunch, I stare at the buttocks picture for a while for a change of pace. Then I stare at the topless picture. Then I ride my bike to the bank. I complete my transactions and pedal home with the delirious fury of a Ron Paul supporter so that I can open and stare at the topless picture again.

It occurred to me on the way to the bank that I could inject some variety into the viewing process by clicking on the curvy arrow that tilts the image ninety degrees. The picture, as you can see, shows Scarlett lying on a furry rug. One ninety-degree shift makes it appear that she is hanging from the ceiling; a second one creates the illusion that she is standing on her head. Repeatedly hitting the arrow makes it appear that Scarlett is performing naked cartwheels, which elicits the thought, “What if Scarlett Johansson actually did perform naked cartwheels and filmed it? Would the entire world economy grind to a halt while every heterosexual man in the free world watched the thing on a continuous loop? What must it feel like to possess that much power?"

Thus my long day’s journey into night proceeds. By the time drinking hour rolls around, the sum total of my productivity for a full fourteen-hour workday has come to this:

* Mailing some stuff (20 minutes)
* Laundry (15 minutes)
* Banking (35 minutes)
* Sending one short email (7 minutes)
* Unpacking (18 minutes)
* Drafting the first few paragraphs of this post (30 minutes)

Stuff That I Intended To Do But Didn’t::
* Compose and send several crucial dayjob-related emails
* Finish and polish this post
* Edit a collection of old blog posts that I intend to put out as a free ebook
* Extensive retirement planning
* Cancel one of my cell phone contracts
* Exercise
* Shower

So Scarlett Johansson’s right nipple has essentially robbed me of twelve hours of my life. And that’s just Day One.

But look—I’m not blaming Scarlett. We all knew this day was coming. Early in her career, she volunteered to do a certain scene topless only to be talked out of it by the director for the sake of the rating.*** And she made it clear on more than one occasion in those heady days that she had no objection to a tasteful nude scene, thus creating the expectation that a Scarlett boob flash was simply a matter of when, not if. But as the years went by, and such golden opportunities as The Black Dahlia and The Other Boleyn Girl came and went, a sort of sinking feeling that we were destined never to see Scarlett’s bare yabboos settled in. Oh, sure, we could watch them get squeezed, but we would never actually see them. Thus, Scarlett’s boobs gradually became the Moby Dick of the naked celebrity demimonde.

Today, I have managed to escape to my office at school without bringing the photo along. And, adhering closely to the “don’t poop where you eat” rule, I cannot trawl for nude images on my official school computer. So I’m finally leading a constructive life again, with every prospect that I can keep this momentum going at least until the inevitable hacking of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Gmail account.

God have mercy on us all when that day comes. And God bless the United States of America.



* Still, don’t you just hate it when you are assured that there is “nudity” in a movie or TV episode, only to find out all too late that it’s just rear-view nudity? And maybe even Andy Sipowicz rear-view nudity at that? On the meanness scale, it’s the equivalent of promising your nine-year-old a “Disney vacation” and then taking her to the Disney Store at the Mall of America.

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** First off, one must address the issue of authenticity. Huffpo’s celebrity page attempts to throw cold water on the whole deal with an offhand, parenthetical “[T]hey look less than authentic, to say the least.”

My response is: No, they don’t. I mean, dear God, take a look at this again. What’s inauthentic about that? More to the point, she has asked the FBI to look into the hack—a rather odd response to the theft of faked nude images of oneself.

Now that that’s settled, we turn to the question, Is it acceptable behavior for one of my ilk to admire stolen nude images or Scarlett Johansson, albeit ones that the subject deliberately took of herself? I’m going with Yes for three reasons:

1. In the comments section of every online article I’ve found about the stolen photos, older commenters marvel at all these young starlets who take naked pictures of themselves, only to be mocked by younger commenters for their fuddy-duddiness. Even the illustrious Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon chimes in, “Dirty texts and emails are simply part of how we have sex now,” provoking from me the longest, saddest sighs I have emitted since I caught two of my female seminar students cuddling together on the sofa in my office. “Quite frankly, I'm sick of the finger wagging at starlets for being so stupid as to take nude photos of themselves,” Tracy continues. “It's a little victim-blame-y, no?”

Okay, so taking naked pictures of yourself is the norm now. Fine by me, if anyone cares. But if you’re a possessor of two of the most fantasized-about and never-exposed breasts in the world, and you not only take naked pictures of those breasts but leave them on your machine indefinitely, well… Isn’t that a little like leaving a big, fat wallet on the dashboard of your unlocked car in a seedy part of town? Can’t we blame the victim just a little bit here?

And while what constitutes humiliation is entirely subjective—my late father was embarrassed by the sight of dogs sniffing each other’s anuses, for heaven’s sake—it’s hard to see how Scarlett is hurt by these exquisitely beautiful photos. I mean, just look at this again.

2. Then there’s what I call the Dead Whale Principle. In my first year in Japan, I was at a party where the spread included what appeared to be Korean barbecued beef. As I was tucking into a slice, an enraged fellow expatriate said, “Don’t you realize that you’re eating whale meat?” I confessed that I did not but then, being hungry, snagged another slice of it. “It’s a little too late to save this whale,” I pointed out.

In Scarlett’s case, likewise, the cat is out of the bag. The horses are out of the barn. The toothpaste is out of the tube. The whale meat is out of the whale. Whatever mortification she may feel, it’s not going to be made worse by you or I reverently perusing her naked pictures. If it’s any consolation to her, I’m sometimes naked myself when I peruse them.

3. Oh, for crying out loud, just look at this!

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*** I forget where I read this or who the director was. I suspect, and dearly want to believe, that it was Michael Bay, as one can always do with another reason to despise him. It’s a pretty safe bet that it wasn’t Woody Allen.

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