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Unless you’ve been doing the equivalent of living under a rock when it comes to celebrity news and gossip, it was difficult to miss the recent scandal of X-factor judge and singer Tulisa Contostavlos’s sex tape. Featuring a young Tulisa and her then-boyfriend in an ‘intimate moment’, the video sparked outrage, and initial denials from the star that it was even her. However, a YouTube video, in which Tulisa speaks out about the leaked footage, confirmed it was indeed the real deal, and the offending film was soon taken down. Since then, her single “Young” (with the apt lyrics, “Forgive me for what I have done”) went to number one in the charts, and looks to stay in the top ten for a while to come. Not only that, Tulisa was also recently named as FHM’s sexiest woman in the world 2012. Interesting coincidences, no?
Many have reasonably speculated from this that the leaked sex tape was in fact a publicity stunt. But can we be angry about this when it has so blatantly worked? If the public react in a certain way, can we be surprised if the PR sprites jump at the opportunity to exploit this?
Whether it was a calculated tactic to boost Tulisa’s fame, or an embarrassing accident as she claims, it must be remembered that Tulisa is just the latest to join the ranks of celebrities who have gained notoriety from their sexual exploits. Just look at Kim Kardashian, who was inexplicably catapulted to fame (along with the rest of her family) after the release of her sex tape with American footballer Reggie Bush. Now she has several reality TV series under her belt, along with various modeling contracts and even her own fragrance. And then of course there are the infamous Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton sex tapes, causing no end of fuss and bother at the time of their release. Clearly a saucy scandal is something the public responds to.
The question then, is, are there any negatives to the use of sex to promote celebrities? Generally, I’m not one to condemn anyone for what they get up to in the bedroom, and if it ends up online – well, no ones pretending these people are chaste virgins. You don’t have to watch it. But, in this celebrity obsessed culture, it’s impossible to ignore that these people are role models (bizarre as it seems). Significantly, all the cases I’ve mentioned have been of women, and it’s scary to think that there are girls out there hungry for fame, who think the way to go about getting it is to post sexual videos and images of themselves online. Not to mention shady ‘agents’ who might exploit this view.
It’s not the celebrities in the videos that are to blame, however. Fair enough, these people are in the public eye, and have some responsibility for what message they put across. But it’s us, the consumer, who buy into these sex scandals and turn them into fame generating money-spinners. How can we be outraged when they’re only giving us what we want? Sure, ‘sex sells’, but only if we buy it.