When it comes to violations of conscience, however, our hypersexualized culture is not so quick to respond. We’ve become acclimated to sex as an entertainment tool, not realizing that mainstream actors are routinely coerced and manipulated into performing sex and/or nude scenes. In the face of overwhelming societal pressure, they often submit to things they otherwise wouldn’t do.
The first assault against Jennifer Lawrence was heavily discussed in the news and on social media. The second has received comparatively little fanfare. The first incident resulted in an FBI investigation, subsequent prosecution, and an upcoming sentencing. The legal ramifications of the second incident are practically nonexistent. The overall response to the first was outrage. The response to the second was indifference.
What were these two incidents? The first, as you may have guessed, was the 2014 iCloud hack in which private/nude photos of several female celebrities, including Lawrence, were stolen and published online. The second incident involved the filming of Jennifer Lawrence’s first sex scene (for the sci-fi movie Passengers). Let me set the stage by sharing three similarities between the photo hack and the sex scene.
First, in the aftermath of the photo hack, Lawrence experienced anxiety. “I was just so afraid,” she later said. “I didn’t know how this would affect my career.”
Similarly, when dealing with the sex scene in Passengers, Lawrence experienced anxiety—before and after the shoot: “I got really, really drunk. But then that led to more anxiety when I got home because I was like, ‘What have I done? I don’t know.’”
Second, in the aftermath of the stolen photos, Lawrence reached out to one of her parents:
I promise you, anybody given the choice of that kind of money [for making The Hunger Games] or having to make a phone call to tell your dad that something like that has happened, it’s not worth it.
In the aftermath of the sex scene in Passengers, Lawrence once again reached out to one of her parents—this time, her mother:
[I]t was…my first time kissing a married man, and guilt is the worst feeling in your stomach. And I knew it was my job, but I couldn’t tell my stomach that. So I called my mom, and I was like, “Will you just tell me it’s OK?”
Third, in response to the stolen photos, Lawrence experienced intense grief. “I was outside crying,” she said, “and [my dog] Pippi jumped up on my lap and started licking up all my tears, and I couldn’t put her down for hours. And I mean, hours.”
Likewise, Lawrence experienced grief over the sex scene in Passengers. As evidenced by the quotes we’ve already looked at, her grief was shown in the coping mechanisms she used to eliminate distress, sorrow, and regret.
WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A CONSCIENCE
It is true that there are some obvious differences between the stolen photos and the sex scene. For example, the first incident took place against Lawrence’s wishes, whereas the second took place with her consent. I point out the similarities above, not to prove that the situations are identical, but that they are both morally problematic. The scenarios may not be the same, but they both are serious.