One of the biggest, loudest stories this year was that of the Great Nude Photo Leak of August 2014, when nefarious hackers gained access to the iCloud accounts of Kate Upton, Ariana Grande, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and a dozen or so other famous women. But of all the celebs targeted, none was higher-profile than Jennifer Lawrence, the Oscar-winning star of "The Hunger Games" -- and her response was the one that both defined this scandal and changed the conversations surrounding it.
Swift action, no denials
Lawrence's immediate response to the hack was notable, in that she didn't dodge it, joke about it, or try to claim (as did other victims) that the photos were fakes. Instead, she issued a statement through a publicist, one that confirmed the veracity of the pics but kept the focus exclusively on the fact that a crime had been committed.
“This is a flagrant violation of privacy. The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence,” a spokesperson for the actress said.
The FBI investigates, the public debates
The next several weeks included plenty of chatter about what many were now referring to as "Celebgate," from an official FBI statement confirming an investigation, to a planned gallery show including the stolen pics, to threats that Emma Watson would be the hackers' next target in retaliation for her UN speech on feminism. And of course, there was endless commentary and conversation about who should be blamed for the theft and dissemination of celebs' private photos. (Some people didn't hesitate to point fingers at the victims in the case, saying that they shouldn't have taken nude pics if they didn't want them to be seen by the public.) Jennifer Lawrence, however, remained silent throughout the debate -- until October, when she had its last, definitive word.
"It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime."
Six weeks after the news of the leak broke, and after just about everyone else in the world had weighed in on how we should feel about it, its most famous victim finally had her say in Vanity Fair. And in typical J-Law fashion, she didn't pull any punches.
"I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to say I’m sorry for. I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you," Lawrence said, confirming that the stolen photos had been intended for her now-ex Nicholas Hoult. And in addition to being wholly unapologetic for the existence of the pics, the actress also had a few choice words to describe their theft -- and a few more for anyone who looked at them without her permission.
"It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting," she said. "Anybody who looked at those pictures, you’re perpetuating a sexual offense. You should cower with shame."
By weighing in when she did, in the way she did, Jennifer Lawrence took full control of the conversation surrounding the photo leak, and she didn't disappoint. And as an actress who the public knows and loves not just for her incredible onscreen performances but for her frank, fallible, and entirely human off-screen personality, she was just the person to give the world a reality check about the lines between admiring celebrities and exploiting them. We won't soon forget this one.