Anne Hathaway, Allison Pill, Matt Lauer, And The End of Embarrassment Over Naked Photos

As any reader of gossip sites knows by now, while exiting a limo on the way to a Les Miserables premiere, a paparazzo snapped a picture of Anne Hathaway’s genitalia and sold it. Hathaway’s always struck me as a classy and smart person. So when Matt Lauer, in an exceptionally gross moment, noted that we’ve “Seen a lot of you lately,” as if Hathaway had deliberately decided to go flashing her nether regions around New York for the laughs and to satisfy an exhibitionist streak, she responded by explaining where the blame for the incident should lie:

It was obviously an unfortunate incident. It kind of made me sad on two accounts. One was that I was very sad that we live in an age when someone takes a picture of another person in a vulnerable moment, and rather than delete it, and do the decent thing, sells it. And I’m sorry that we live in a culture that commodifies the sexuality of unwilling participants.

It’s refreshing to see Hathaway give no quarter to any potential criticism of her. When crotch shots seemed to be a regular occurrence, there was a lot of moralizing about whether starlets should simply adapt to the new, invasive media environment and permanently adopt underwear with a coverage area equivalent to that of tennis shorts. But while that may be wise, it’s depressing, and Hathaway was right to back up the conversation to a place that requires photographers and the people who consume them to consider accepting some responsibility.

Hathaway isn’t the only young actress to react to nude or exposed image of her gone public with aplomb, rather than acting ashamed or trying to reestablish a sense of her virtue. When The Newsroom actress Allison Pill accidentally tweeted a topless picture she intended to Direct Message to her fiance Jay Baruchel earlier this year, she responded to the incident with another tweet: “Yep. That picture happened. Ugh. My tech issues have now reached new heights, apparently.” He didn’t treat it like a big deal either, calling her a “hilarious dork” online.

Crotch shots are an inevitable result of the paparazzi era. Misdirected messages are an inevitable result of the rise of relatively insecure social media as a major means of communication. Hathaway and Pill are smart enough to know that the mistakes and embarrassments that happen are not about them, even if Matt Lauer isn’t wise or self-aware enough not to know that, and to hold back from embarrassing himself.