Mitt Romney uttered an uncomfortable truth: a large portion of the electorate has been bribed with government funds to vote for the party of government. Noting aloud that the land of the free is slowly becoming the land of the freeloader isn’t necessarily wrong. It’s just not the kind of thing polite politicians say in public — which, in defense of the too-polite Romney, he didn’t.
“Forget the content of Mitt Romney’s remarks,” writes Bob Lefsetz of the Lefsetz Letter. “What troubles me is he’s so out of the loop, technologically and socially, that he didn’t realize that anything you say outside of the privacy of your own bathroom, alone, in the dark, is no longer private, and will surface, if anybody truly cares what you have to say.”
G. Gordon Liddy wishes Lefsetz were around in the ’70s to defend him. Forty years after Watergate, we celebrate rather than prosecute the peepers, the buggers, and the creeps. The celebrity knows this better than her ugly cousin, the politician.
Kate Middleton recently discovered that good fences make great neighbors only when your neighbor doesn’t possess a ladder and a telephoto lens. Like her brother-in-law, and all of her subjects really, she needs to be naked –it’s an English thing. So when she removed her top to sunbathe at a French chateau, a photographer there — or about 500 meters away — snapped 240 shots. Magazines in Italy, Sweden, France, Ireland, Denmark, and points beyond have allowed their readers to become as cretinous as the picture taker. The sun never sets on the British Empress-in-Waiting.
Paris Hilton, a sort of Kate Middleton who dropped out of finishing school, experienced her gotcha moment in a late-night New York taxi discussing a smartphone app — it’s gaydar really — that enables homosexuals to locate one another for trysts. “Say I log into Grindr,” a gay male model (redundant?) companion informs the hotel heiress. “Someone that’s on Grindr can be in that building and it tells you all the locations of where they are and you can be like, ‘Yo, you wanna f***?’ And he might be on like, the sixth floor.”
Paris, in Paris fashion, responds: “Ewww. Ewww. To get f***ed? Gay guys are the horniest people in the world. They’re disgusting. Dude, most of them probably have AIDS.”
Grossed out by strangers acquiring carnal knowledge, Hilton counsels her friend against the semi-public hook-ups. “I would be so scared if I were a gay guy,” she explains. “You’ll like, die of AIDS.” This commonsense advice has, like, made Hilton a homophobe. OMG!
The media revulsion is not over anonymous encounters in public but a conversation among friends ostensibly in private. When the star of 1 Night in Paris plays the grown up, it’s later than you think.
Society tolerates private behavior performed in public but condemns the expectation of public figures’ discussions remaining private. Like children, we don’t know boundaries. We have no concept of personal space.
The government, with its traffic-light paparazzi and airport grope-downs, hasn’t set the best example. Neither has popular entertainment, with reality television awarding every exhibitionist a voyeur. Technology is the worst offender. Facebook and Twitter prove the mirror too antiquated, with too limited an audience, to satiate the narcissist. GPS vehicle trackers, cell-phone cameras, and Spyware make Peeping Tom feel like James Bond.
Encroaching eyeballs and antenna ears just show the value of maintaining a personal sphere. If one wants proof that people crave privacy more than ever, just consider the behavior of the invaders of privacy. Allen Funt aside, the man behind the hidden camera never ventures in front of it. The bugger never puts his secret utterances on blast. The source’s demand of anonymity is often a tacit admission of sleaziness. We redact our names from what causes us shame.
“Privacy is passé,” claims Bob Lefsetz. The anonymity of Kate’s stalker photographer, Paris’s eavesdropping cabbie, and Mitt’s candid cameraman suggests that it’s anything but.