We’ve probably all seen them by now. We all have an opinion on them. But honestly, paying so much attention to the topless pics of Kate is only adding to their hype, which is something probably no one wants in the long run.
When I first heard that pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing topless had surfaced in a French tabloid, I wasn’t very shocked at all. My main reaction was, “Wow, it finally happened.” Of course Kate Middleton was going to be shamed in the tabloids at some point in the near future. Being such a beloved international figure, Kate Middleton the brand (as opposed to the person — I’m not vindictive against Kate as a person) had something like this comin’ for a long time.
All the same, I think it’s time we put this story to rest, because I don’t see it as a valid story for tabloid journalism in the first place. First of all, the conditions under which those pictures were taken are very sketchy. Allegedly, they were shot from a public road outside the chateau where the couple was vacationing. And even though the people printing the pictures say that Kate and her husband William were “easily visible” from the road, the pixellation of the photos suggests to me that the pictures were taken from a long way away from the couple. This brings up the possibility that the photographer actively tried to get pictures of the topless Kate, overcoming the distance intended to increase privacy for occupants. That doesn’t make the photographer exactly innocent.
Second, the editors of the magazine that first published the photos is more than a little weird about the whole thing. The French magazine Closer defended publishing the pictures by saying this: ”This is a deserving topic because it shows in a completely natural way the daily life of a very famous, young and modern couple in love.” Really? You’re going to damage the international reputation of the next potential rulers of England because you want a sure-fire feature story? That’s journalistically irresponsible. Ergo, not worthy of my time. Or the time of anyone else who values mindful, aware journalism.
Thirdly, this story isn’t really so scandalous as everyone thinks it is. There’s a recent quote circulating about the photographs of Kate Middleton — “She’s a woman, not an object.” Um, have these people heard of tabloid journalism? Treating people like objects of intrigue is how that industry makes its money. It started with leaking the photograph of Britney Spears’ vagina (to which I will not link), and it evolved into baby bump-spotting and more intense beach-body critique than ever. This is what the industry is nowadays.
Of course Kate is a person, complex and wonderful in her own way. But to expect the tabloid press to change their entire culture, do a complete 180-turn over one topless scandal…that’s a huge demand. Maybe change is more possible because there’s a much stronger consumer voice in the tabloid industry nowadays (thank you, social media!). And if Kate Middleton really IS the next Princess Diana, the outrage over her perceived invasion of privacy will be loud and strong.
I don’t know, maybe change to tabloid culture will come from this scandal. I can’t predict that; no one really can. But in the meantime, let’s stop dwelling on this obvious embarrassment to the royal family. If we really want the tabloid industry to be less invasive of celebrities’ privacy, we need to say it with our own consumption habits. Otherwise, let’s call this story what it is — business as usual.
UPDATE: Kate and William have officially won a lawsuit prohibiting further publication of the photos by Closer, and for the magazine to surrender the photos at the risk of being fined for every day they hold onto them. It appears that no such action will take place against papers who published the photos in Ireland or Italy. Your thoughts on this, please!