Erin Andrews Key Hole: Comparative Censorship
Erin Andrews News Update:
- Andrews was awarded $55 Million dollars in the case.
- Andrews is currently seeking $75 Million dollars in her Peeping Tom Video Lawsuit. She broke down in court today and says “I think about it every day” – What are your thoughts on the ESPN, Peeping Tom and Erin Andrews situation? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
News that ESPN’s Erin Andrews was victimized by a peeping tom has gone viral on the Web. The beautiful sports announcer/celebrity was changing in her hotel room, when someone apparently filmed her nude through the keyhole and published the video to YouTube. Now if there ever was a reason to wonder at who the biggest user group on Google is, or YouTube for that matter, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that demographic.
Google’s top search trend today is for the key-phrase; “erin andrews peephole video rapidshare”, in case anyone is unaware. What this says for our interests (or boredom factor) is only suggestive. Andrews is a lovely young woman, but come on. The video has subsequently been removed from YouTube, but my question is; “Why was film of Iranian student Neda dying not removed, is Miss Andrews’ modesty more important than another girl’s last moments alive? Maybe we all need T-Shirts that read; “Private Property – My Dignity”, I bet it would not have helped Neda.
There used to be a saying that basically suggested that any kind of press is good press in celebrity circles. Erin Andrews, more than likely, does not agree with this statement right now though. Having one’s privacy invaded, in a way suggested by this news, is not exactly the ideal way to add to an already budding career. Andrews is unfortunately regarded more for her relative “hotness” than she is for her skills as a sportscaster, and I suppose this sort of thing goes with that territory. According to PopCrunch, ESPN has already decided to intervene on a legal level, and issued this statement to YouTube:
“I am the General Counsel of ESPN, Inc. It has come to my attention that you have posted on your site pictures of a young, blonde woman . . . These pictures were obviously taken through a peephole or otherwise in a fashion constituting a trespass/assault on the rights of the woman involved. Your continued posting of these pictures are highly likely to render you an accessory after the fact to a criminal act. We hereby demand that you (i) immediately remove these pictures from your site and (ii) disclose to us the source of the pictures. We intend to hold you fully responsible for further display of material that so obviously violates the law.
Please confirm by return e-mail that you intend to comply with these demands. In the absence of such confirmation we will assume you are an active and willing participant in these acts.
To honor Andrew’s privacy, we will not provide any links to supposed sites or methods where the video can still be seen. For the die hard “peeping Tom”, those stories abound already. What is interesting about this story for Everything PR, is the viral Internet aspect as well as the implications for celebrities and fans alike. YouTube, and secondarily its primary user constituency, would appear to promote some, shall we say “undesirable” activities.
I promised not to mention that video of the Iranian student Neda was filmed as she lay dieing after being brutally killed by a sniper. These incidents are, of course, at two divergent ends of the spectrum in as far as their severity. However, YouTube banning Andrews’ privacy issue, seems pale by comparison when compared to a woman breathing her last breaths. Our whole family and network of friends was appalled that YouTube allowed Neda Soltani to be seen in that way.
What Do You Advocate Phil, Censorship?
A very visible PR professional chastised me after a comment I made on that person’s PR blog when I comment on that post integrating Neda dying with social media progressive hogwash. In that comment confrontation, I was just finding it improper for the PR to use the woman for the purpose of adding credibility to social media, and apparently that CEO’s part in what many call “a movement”. I swore I would never address this issue again, but the irony of these two events begs a conclusive end to any idea that some kinds of “censoring” are appropriate.
Am I proposing censorship for some forms of media? I believe the answer here should be; “You damn skippy”, if it protects the blameless. Others will ague that Miss Andrews was in the privacy of her room, and censorship of video of that event is necessary to protect her privacy. For me, and many others I know, this is about degrees. What I mean by that is this. Neda’s situation was about privacy too, all be it that she was in public when she was killed. The degree of invasion is the key factor here. Erin being seen naked, in this case, is nowhere near as dramatic an invasion as Neda drawing her last breath looking into some idiot’s camera lens.
For the morally obtuse out there, let me clarify this with an example if I may. If Miss Andrews had been kidnapped and filmed naked in front of an auditorium of 10,000, would YouTube broadcast it? Would that be in the public sector. Yes, we get into semantics a little bit here, but I think the reason YouTube showed Neda and not Erin is because of the lawyers, the power of ESPN, and the thin line between legal privacy and moral privacy. Moral privacy, now there is a new term you might say.
If this is your view, ask yourself a question. Is it morality that makes us elect people to make laws? Or perhaps; “Where does privacy end?” Without going into a philosophy lesson here, I just hope readers can see a valid point here. We feel bad for Erin Andrews (well except for the YouTube demographic begging for this video), but have little or no real regard for the life of Neda. What is wrong with us?
I leave the reader with this simple personal note. For me and my family, the haunting essence of Neda spread all over the Internet in video and stills reveals a part of human beings that is primeval. In that one moment when the young woman stares at you, well, if that ethereal moment does not strike anyone as invading her, I do not know what to say.
I asked my 14 year old to promise to never watch it out of respect. I am no saint, have seen men die in combat, and ordinary people on the street, but the capturing of that moment, the blood lust feeding frenzied absorption of it on YouTube, and people using it for their own gain?
Well, for me, that is not the beginning of some citizen journalist wave of freedom, but the edges of Armageddon for humanity. Strong words I know, and the last I will say about that video, but I am a citizen journalist of another sort perhaps.
According to a press release via PR-USA, Andrews’ legal representative stated the following:
“While alone in the privacy of her hotel room, Erin Andrews was surreptitiously videotaped without her knowledge or consent. She was the victim of a crime and is taking action to protect herself and help ensure that others are not similarly violated in the future.
Although the perpetrator or perpetrators of this criminal act have not yet been identified, when they are identified she intends to bring both civil and criminal charges against them and against anyone who has published the material. We request respect of Erin’s privacy at this time, while she and her representatives are working with the authorities.”