Who Isn’t Taking Nude Photos?

img_1083Seriously, though, why are there so many nude photos out there to be leaked? I mean, if you don’t take nude photos on your phone then there won’t be any to be leaked. But it seems like everyone is out there taking these photos of themselves because when the leaks happen the nudity comes busting out the seams (no pun intended). These nude photos have become tantamount to the sex tapes from 10 years ago, and how do we stop them from showing up? STOP TAKING THEM.

Yeah, yeah, there’s the excuse that everything you do on your own phone should be personal, but how often have we heard now about breaches, leaks, and the like? It seems like every week there’s another leak, so stop taking those steamy photos celebrities, and find a cleaner, some program that will burn the photos you used to have from the inside out. You know, unless you want those photos to be out there because I think we’ve seen now that there’s no stopping these hackers from getting access.

normal_photoshoots_justinstephens001Taylor Swift said something about how her accounts were hacked but there were no nude photos to be leaked because SHE DOESN’T HAVE ANY. Wow, what a novel idea, Miss Swift. I applaud you and your quest to keep some things to the imagination. But is she honestly the last of a dying breed, the people who understand that sexual nudity belongs in the bedroom between two people? Of course it also wouldn’t surprise me if somewhere down the line she does take some photos and they eventually show up because too often people think things die down and they let down their guard.

But nude photos? What’s the draw? Some people have told me that they take those photos for when they’re apart from their significant others, so they can stay physically close. Really? You need a naked photo of your girlfriend so you can stay “close” to her? Then something’s wrong. What happened to anticipation? What happened to the joy of connecting one on one instead of through a phone? We as a society tend to lay everything out there, to have nothing left to surprise, or to truly excite. We become dulled to nudity because it’s everywhere, and then we add to it by being stupid enough to have those photos on our phones, things that just aren’t as private as we’d hope they’d be.

Politicians are doing it. Celebrities are doing it. Regular folk are doing it. So who’s not taking nude photos? Uh, this guy. Personal is personal. Private is private. Of course no one is dying to see nude photos of me anyway, but even if they were, why would I put that out there for all time? Because that’s what we need to think about before we take those selfies. They can end up out there on the internet and there’s really no taking that back. Is that what we want our legacies to be? I sure as hell hope not.

Sam

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The Nick Nolte Syndrome

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“Strange, don’t you think I’m looking older? Something good has happened to me. Change is a stranger you have yet to know.” ~George Michael

You know those actors who never seem to age, the ones like Courteney Cox, who is virtually indistinguishable from her initial Friends foray over 20 years ago, or Will Smith, who still has the same stylish good looks he had as a fresh-faced Prince of Bel Air, also over two decades ago. They get older on the calendar only, and we, as regular human beings, try to figure out how they accomplish this feat, as if it’s a type of magic. But it’s not magic, and eventually they will succumb to Father Time like everyone else. Just as Kirk Douglas. Or Nick Nolte.

Back in the mid-80s to mid-90s Nick Nolte was a great character actor, playing everyone from good guys to bad guys, in movies that ranged from action to romantic comedy to everything in-between. He was a good leading man because despite his advancing years he maintained a set of good looks that women of all ages admired, and his rugged facade made men want to be him. Besides, it seemed like he owned a piece of art straight out of Picture of Dorian Gray.

But sometime in the late-90s a shift happened. Somehow the man who had defied the gods of time for so long began looking his age. In fact, it wasn’t even a gradual shift. One day he was the ruggedly handsome Nick Nolte and the next he was an old man who might be found rummaging for food down at Grand Central Station. Perhaps his picture of himself got destroyed, or he just lost the chess match with Father Time. I call this shift the Nick Nolte syndrome.

In recent years other stars have begun to succumb to this syndrome, most notably someone like George Michael. A heartthrob for years, he didn’t seem to get older, just more stylish, just a better version of himself as he aged. But then 2008 hit and his hair was thinner, his face more angular, his style more dated than before. And even though he still sings like an angel he no longer carried those boyish looks that had characterized him for so long. He looks his age, and I’m still getting used to it.

Another example is the mercurial Tom Hanks, who for years and years looked not too far off from the character he portrayed in Forrest Gump. He had that jovial face, and that smile, and was as ageless as the kid from Big even in the older body. But in recent years he has begun to look more like a grandpa and less like the man who named his only friend Wilson almost 15 years ago in Cast Away.

It happens to everyone, but I think we are more blown away by what we perceive as a sudden shift than by the gradual aging process of most people we are familiar with in real life. Perhaps it’s the camera angles and make-up artists we have to thank for the fact that these actors tend not to age for years, but at some point the camera only has so many angles, and the real world must intrude. Which is fine because if they were actually timeless I think scientists would be studying them in cages by now.

Like Nick Nolte (who’s seen him lately anyway?)…

Sam

Razing Idols

73ff39026d9278fafdb4a1b1745ebbd5“We raise up idols specifically so that we can tear them down when they inevitably fail us.” ~Theodicus

When I was young it was all about the father figures. You know, those guys on TV who were sometimes silly, sometimes firm, but always dispensed knowledge. There was Jason Seaver, who somehow handled being a psychiatrist and a father of three rambunctious kids, not to mention a man with a high maintenance wife. And who could forget Stephen Keaton, the former hippie dealing with three kids of his own (one of whom was a staunch republican) and fighting off the constant midlife crisis? He was a man among men. But the best of those surrogate dads was Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, who came into my home every Thursday night and taught me valuable life lessons that I have never forgotten non matter how old I’ve gotten. Yes, Dr. Huxtable was my idol, and he still is. Too many people, though, shackled him with leg irons to a man named Bill Cosby, and therein made their mistake.

Everyone has idols, and understandably so, because we all have that need to look up to others for those traits we wish we had. For some of us they are our parents, for better or for worse, and for others they are an older family friend, but for the vast majority, sadly enough, it is those characters on television who are larger than life, like superheroes who we can aspire to be. We follow their every move like a shadow, putting them on pedestals that have no sound bases, just puffs of air that change like the wind. It’s what keeps tabloid magazines alive and well, but it’s also what crushes us when those heroes inevitably fail us. Because they’re human.

You heard that right. Humans aren’t perfect, no matter how much we say it and how many of us convince ourselves that it must be true. Time and again we are devastated when they topple because we believed they were impervious to kryptonite. Lance Armstrong, Bill Clinton, Robin Williams, Jimmy Swaggert, Tiger Woods, and yes, even the formerly unimpeachable Bill Cosby himself, they weren’t what we thought they were. They weren’t invincible at all. They have issues and problems just like we do. Like Charles Barkley so aptly put it, “I am not a role model.” But they become even more than mere role models. They become larger than life idols with shaky bases that stand for a while before crashing to the ground.

That’s why I still look to Dr. Huxtable for advice but I don’t put the man behind the portrayal of the good doctor on that pedestal, because I know he’s only human. Just like me. That way he can never let me down, because I never knew him, and I never will.

Sam

If I Wasn’t a Celebrity, I’d Just Be Screwed Up

“I’m never gonna dance again, ’cause guilty feet ain’t got no rhythm.” -Wham, Careless Whisper

When I heard that George Michael had fallen out of a car going 70 miles an hour on the freeway, I wondered what it is about celebrity that screws people up. Or maybe I have it backwards, and celebrity merely gives access to money and privilege and unlimited license to be stupid. It’s like putting a daredevil on the top of the Empire State Building and telling him he can’t jump. He’s going to jump, because he can. Give someone access to something they never even knew they wanted, and suddenly they want it. Give someone a microphone and he’ll use it to make fart noises. Oh, the horror. That’s celebrity.

“I am not a role model.” -Charles Barkley

It all begins with the idea of a celebrity as a role model, and the answer is pretty clear. Charles Barkley was wrong. The nature of celebrity means there are millions of people looking up to you, whether you like it or not. You hear that, Kim Kardashian? You follow me there, Nikki Minaj? And if people are looking up to you, that makes you a role model. Ask Bobby Knight or Dennis Rodman or Bill Clinton. They’ll tell you that Charley Barkley was wrong, but they’ll also tell you that they wish he was right. You see, celebrities are, as the magazines put it, just like us. They have the same issues, the same dreams, the same hopes and fears, except those are magnified when they’re in the public eye.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” -Abraham Lincoln

It always comes down to perspective, after all. Someone who values his or her privacy will not do well as a celebrity. Sad stories like Kurt Kobain and Michael Jackson bear this out. But as a celebrity there is no private life, especially in the era of Twitter, Facebook, and cameras on every cell phone out there. If it’s not recorded, think again. Everything in our lives now are recorded, and that’s just for regular people like you and me. Imagine what it’s like to be a celebrity and have people not only know everything about your life, but to judge you based on it.

Why do I not believe you, Sir Charles?

“You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” -Atticus Finch

But do we as a public have a right to judge? We often talk about rights, and people don’t just give away those rights in order to be celebrities. It just seems that way. In our selfish rush as a society to know everything about everyone, we often doom our celebrities to lives of depression and second-guessing. Look at poor Amanda Bynes, or other child stars. Or even recently all of the over-exposure that Paris Jackson has gotten and what it’s doing to her. It’s sad, really. I honestly wish that Charles Barkley had been right when I see things like that. If celebrities weren’t seen as role models, if our real role models were the people who actually have made a difference in our lives, things would be so much different, and so much better.

“We’re all capable of mistakes, but I do not care to enlighten you on the mistakes we may or may not have made.” -Dan Quayle

The former vice-president is right here, that we’re all capable of mistakes. None of us are perfect, which was made dramatically clear by the rather public apology of Jimmy Swaggart twenty-five years ago this Friday, when he was revealed to be as human as the rest of us. “I have sinned,” came the public confession through wracking sobs. That’s the nature of celebrity. A man who is human has to apologize for being human, because he was in the public eye, and he has a commitment to that public, right? Perhaps when you’re leading a flock of people who believe every word you say that’s true, but should that translate to people like Dennis Rodman or George Michael? I don’t think so, but it won’t change.

Just ask Michael Phelps, arguably the greatest swimmer of all time, and he’ll probably tell you it’s not all it’s cracked up to be: celebrity. He’ll probably tell you that he’d like a Leonard Cohen afterworld now that he’s done with swimming. So he can sigh eternally. Oh, and George, thanks for just getting nicked up. We need new music from you.

Sam

Weighing In: Tiger Woods & The Masters

“He should be disqualified!”

“Why isn’t he going to withdraw?”

“This forever stains the game of golf!”

“This forever stains his legacy, even if he gets 19 majors!”

“See how they have preferential treatment for stars?!”

These are all variations of tweets and discussion boards I read today based on the controversial ruling by The Masters committee about assessing Tiger Woods a two-stroke penalty for an illegal drop but no disqualification from the tournament. Everyone is all up in arms over this, that the committee is “bending over backwards” for Woods because he is the number one player in the world and because of ratings, but I disagree. Indeed, if you read the letter of the law, there is now a rule in the books (that they cited in their explanation) dealing with just this type of circumstance without a disqualification. The only reason this is all such a big deal and everyone is so outraged is because they think Tiger is getting preferential treatment. But the rule is there for everyone. Tiger just happens to be the first one to benefit from it. You can say what you will, but sports change their rules. Remember before video replay became a part of football, and all the “missed calls” that would occur? How about before people got time in the penalty box for violations in hockey, before the idea of the power play? How did that change the game when the new idea came on the scene?

If Joe Schmo had done the same thing that Woods did, the same would have applied to him, but we wouldn’t be talking about it today because he’s Joe Schmo, and he’s not held up to the same type of scrutiny as someone like Tiger Woods. And we sit on our couches with our remotes in hand, judging, like we always do. Just like we sat and judged Michael Phelps for what he did in his private life, and like we judged Michael Jackson for not fitting our paradigm for who we thought he should be, without any evidence to prove that he did anything at all. As a society, we tend to judge from afar. We aren’t privy to every little detail but we feel we should be, and we yell and scream about it… because we can. See what social media has done to us? And I will admit that I love the good things about social media, the positive attributes, but I cannot stand the fact that it also becomes a platform for people to judge others. We all have our opinions, but don’t vilify someone else for having one that is different from yours. It doesn’t make it any more or less valid than yours. Good discussion is fine, but all the shouting, screaming, and judgmental attitudes should check themselves at the opening screen.

That being said, I am excited to watch Tiger Woods play his round today, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he didn’t talk to the media after it.

Sam

The MC Hammer Syndrome

You all know the story. A famous athlete/singer/actor/musician (in a word: CELEBRITY) retired/quit/took a hiatus (in three words: GOT WASHED UP), and you don’t hear from him for a while, but when you do, it’s because he’s gone bankrupt. Your first thought is, “What happened? Didn’t he make a bazillion dollars? Is this some kind of joke?” And you judge because you know that if you were him you would still be rich. How does someone piss through so much money? And then he has some kind of benefit in his name. It might be a concert or something (the Benefit for Nicholas Cage), and it seems like things are going to be cool. But then, a month later he’s pleading bankruptcy again, and you never hear from him again. This is what I have dubbed the MC Hammer syndrome.

Some of you know what I’m taking about, and if you don’t, then at least you know “U Can’t Touch This,” the epitome of early ’90s rap (don’t tell Vanilla Ice). Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em sold over 18 million units, Hammer sold out stadiums, and he made millions. If it had stopped there, no one would even be talking about his syndrome. But no, he decided he wanted to help out every single person from Oakland he possibly could. Old high school friends, friends of high school friends, parents of high school friends, old Jeb from behind the town diner, and the list goes on. He hired them to work for him, paid them exorbitant funds, and they did absolutely nothing. Then he spent truckloads of money on a mansion, at one point had over 75 vintage cars housed in his huge garage, and that was right around the time his career tanked. You see, nothing lasts forever, and that’s what MC Hammer happened to forget while he was hitting it big.

There are many people these days who espouse the philosophy of living in the now. These people don’t plan for the future, so when the future finally shows up (as it inevitably does) they’re ill-prepared and they fall flat on their faces. But no one can say they didn’t enjoy their time in the sun. Professional athletes seem to be prone to this philosophy more now than ever, because of the ridiculous sums of money they’re paid, and because of the lack of responsibility they can have. It’s almost like they’ve regressed, some of them (not all of them), and eventually it’s payback time.

“The key to avoiding this syndrome is to plan for the future, no matter who you are.”

And, you know, it’s not just celebrities either. For every Redd Foxx out there who ends up having an auction for all of his possessions, there’s a Barry Smith who does the same, and 20 others just like him. Just because Barry’s not a celebrity doesn’t make what he’s going through any less devastating to him. But unlike Redd Foxx, Barry and those 20 others were victims of downsizing. They were making a lot of money as CEOs, and CFOs, which is why they were vulnerable to downsizing. Kill off the big money first. And Barry lost everything because he had major stock options which disappeared when he was canned. And his wife just filed for divorce. Sadly there was no prenup. And suddenly, all that money he had coming in dried up, Sally took half of what was left, and Barry has no prospects. He has fallen victim to the MC Hammer syndrome.

The key to avoiding this syndrome is to plan for the future, no matter who you are. No matter if you’re LeBron James, John Mayer, Jack White, Taylor Swift, or Jason Hummel (the building super), you need to have a real financial advisor who will steer you in the right direction. You need to diversify your portfolio, whether you have millions in the bank or $10 dollars to your name. Spend your most lucrative time socking away money so when it’s not so lucrative you can still survive (and in some cases, still live comfortably). And last, but not least, don’t trust people who suddenly show up when you have money. They’re not your friends, and they won’t help you if anything goes wrong.

Don’t be like MC Hammer. Live in the now, but plan for the future. It’s coming, whether you want it to or not.

Sam

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