“Just a reminder that you are strong and courageous and beautiful inside and out.”
When someone hacks an individual’s phone and leaks private information such as nude photos, we all know the perpetrator is to blame.
But it seems that if you’re Whoopi Goldberg, you’d rather place responsibility at the feet of the person whose photos were stolen, rather than interrogate the misogynistic and criminal behaviour of the thief.
That’s what the actress did in her latest appearance on The View, where she led a discussion about Bella Thorne, who shared her own nude photos on social media after a hacker threatened to post them.
Thankfully, a host of Thorne’s celebrity friends have turned up to show their love and support as the fallout from her ordeal continues.
In an Instagram post on Wednesday, Thorne gave a shoutout to her famous friends who have rallied around in the wake of the controversy, including Dove Cameron, Lily-Rose Depp, and Spider-Man actress Zendaya, who called the star from her press tour in London telling her that she is “strong and courageous and beautiful inside and out.”
The uplifting messages kept on coming from Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale, who messaged, “Good for you baby girl. I’m so proud of you for speaking up. This breaks my heart. But you’re making a difference for other girls and women!”, and Empire actor Serayah McNeill who said, “Your [sic] a f*cking boss! So inspiring! Independent at that! Keep doing you!”
Lily Rose-Depp, meanwhile, assured Thorne that she would have taken similar actions. “You’re absolutely right and anyone who’s saying otherwise is just wrong, living in another century and clearly unconcerned by what repercussions words like that might have as it relates to young people and how they view their sexualities and bodies,” the model wrote.
For context, news of the leak broke over the weekend, when Thorne said that she felt gross and watched after being threatened by a hacker for 24 hours with the topless pictures. Posting them to Twitter, she wrote: “I’m putting this out because it’s my decision now. You don’t get to take yet another thing from me. I can sleep tonight better knowing I took my power back. You can’t control my life you never will.”
Her actions prompted a debate about the issue of cyber-attacks against women, particularly the sharing of private images and videos, commonly known as revenge porn.
But it seemed that didn’t concern Goldberg, who said instead that Thorne and other celebrities should not be taking photos of themselves in the first place.
“If you’re famous, I don’t care how old you are, you don’t take nude pictures of yourself,” Goldberg said. “When they’re hacking you, they’re hacking all of your stuff, so whether it’s one picture or a million pictures, once you take that pictures it goes into the cloud and it’s available to any hacker who wants it. And if you don’t know that in 2019, that this is an issue, I’m sorry you don’t get to do that.”
Co-host Sunny Hostin did express sympathy for Thorne, saying: “It’s the age of social but for someone to extort her and threaten her with posting these pictures, it’s terrible.” And, after Goldberg’s comments she interjected: “But she’s not to blame, it’s the guy who’s trying to extort her.”
But Goldberg stuck to her view: “You cannot be surprised that someone has hacked you, especially if you’ve got stuff on your phone, that’s why they hacked you.”
Thorne responded to Goldberg on her Instagram, initially with a note in which she wrote that blaming girls for taking nude photos was “sick and honestly disgusting”.
Thorne then followed up with a series of videos directed at Goldberg, in which she was visibly upset.
“I want to say that I feel pretty disgusting, Whoopi, knowing everyone’s seen my shit,” she said. “I just want to say that watching this interview made me feel really bad about myself, and I hope you’re happy.
“I really hope you’re so fucking happy, because I can only imagine all of the kids who have their shit released and they commit suicide. You’re so crazy for thinking such terrible things on such an awful situation.”
Thorne had been due to go on The View but said she was cancelling her appearance because she didn’t want to be “beaten down by a bunch of older women for my body and my sexuality”. She continued: “I don’t really want you guys talking about your views to young girls because I would not want my daughter to learn that and I would never say that to her.”
“Shame on you, Whoopi,” said Thorne. “And shame on you for putting that public opinion out there for every young girl to think that they’re disgusting for even taking a photo like that.”
Goldberg’s victim blaming is part of a dangerous tradition of slut shaming women rather than holding men responsible for their actions.
Thorne said it could have dangerous consequences: “Saying if you take a sexy photo then it basically deserves to get leaked, don’t be surprised at all and don’t feel sorry for yourself; so if I go out to a party drinking and I want to dance on the dance floor do I deserve to be raped too? Because I see those two things as really fucking similar.”
Discussions about whether or not people should be taking nude photos are pointless, and have no merit – everyone has a right to privacy and that right extends to private photos. The focus should instead be on changing the culture of toxic masculinity that makes men think revenge porn is a good idea, and on enacting laws that ensures criminals are adequately punished.
That’s a lesson Goldberg could do with learning.