I don’t know about you, but every time I turn on the TV and see what we’ve turned into I feel complicit in how, as a culture, we just consume celebrities. We eat celebrities for breakfast, and it’s not right. At Virtru, we think the problem is that celebrities are not afforded enough privacy. Celebrities need to start securing and encrypting online communications to start taking back their lives from this crazy, celebrity-obsessed culture.
We’re Like the Romans
Idolizing the famous is an ancient pastime. The Romans worshipped gladiators even as they sacrificed them in the Colosseum. If you’ve ever studied Roman history you’ll know that our tabloids are relatively tame compared to what happened back then. The Colosseum was like WWE on even more steroids – they made prisoner armies reenact real battles with real weapons. Today we don’t have a Colosseum, and we’re not making Bieber fight Timberlake to the death at Super Bowl halftime. We’re no longer feeding prisoners to lions or making gladiators fight each other – no, we’re much more civilized than that.
We sacrifice our celebrities on the Internet. We start when they are just children and then we subject them to a life devoid of privacy for decades until they snap. We have leaky email accounts, we have leaked smartphone sex “tapes,” and we have journalists who jump at the opportunity to listen in on private celebrity phone calls. We have a much more efficient and brutal system of public sacrifice; in fact, if you read some of the comment threads about the latest scandal you’ll see people taking bets over which famous star is going to die in a given year. We are sick.
The Modern Hunger Games: No Privacy Allowed
We as a culture elect a few lucky individuals to be famous at a very young age. We award them with riches and attention. We make them entertain our children on TV. Then, once they are ready, they graduate to performing increasingly suggestive pop music. We make them play in a public “game” that’s strikingly similar to the Hunger Games. We’re not asking our famous to fight each other in an arena, but the entertainment industry seems to have this built-in effect that 90% of our child stars end up having serious issues stemming from the fact that these people are never left alone. They have no privacy.
The current crop of “tributes” – Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus, Lorde, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato – are subjected to an immense amount of focus and pressure. Some make it through relatively intact like a Justin Timberlake, and others like Britney Spears exit the game with problems. While they are in the arena everyone has advice; you can turn on entire TV channels devoted to a professional class of shameless media handlers spouting off advice like “Beiber just needs counseling and recovery treatment,” or Miley Cyrus “certainly shouldn’t have smoked weed in Amsterdam,” or a perfectly damaging critique that Jennifer Lawrence has “put on too much weight.”
What They Really Need? To Be Left alone
We need to leave these people alone, but I fear that it won’t happen until our celebrities take privacy into their own hands. Virtru cannot help with the paparazzi following the famous. Where we can help is in making sure that we end the steady stream of news stories generated by emails forwarded when they shouldn’t be and by pictures or videos leaking because someone’s Inbox was hacked.
Sites like TMZ, Gawker, and The Smoking Gun exist to celebrate the downfall of the famous. We’d like to think that, with Virtru, there will be less of this. There will be fewer stories stemming from someone’s disgruntled assistant forwarding an email about a former employer or a famous person sending the wrong email to the wrong person.
Celebrities should look to Virtru because messages secured and sent with Virtru provide the ability to revoke a message, to control who can forward a message, and put an expiration date on a message. In a world that seems designed to consume the famous, Virtru can help them regain some sense of privacy.