(Please note Mr. Templeton’s photograph is not my own. My use is intended as protected speech concerning the work of a public figure, Mr. Templeton, in regard to an image that Mr. Templeton posted to a public forum. I have taken the liberty of cropping the original image to protect the subject’s privacy.)
I’m a fairly regular user of Instagram. There’s good stuff and bad stuff, and much like Tumblr, you navigate to avoid the stuff that’s not your cuppa tea, live and let live.
As an active member of IG, I follow, post photos, like and leave comments every day. I’m not an IG policeman, but today I have something to say. You see, there’s this guy, Ed Templeton. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He’s an old school skateboarder with a reasonable bit of fame and a photographer with a book
coming out. I just happened to follow him. His posts are fine for the most part, that is until he started posting pictures of girls with their clothes “bubbled” out a la 4chan a couple of days ago.
Now, the internet’s the internet and douches will be douches, but these photos seemed out of place with his other photography, so I clicked on the comments section to see what was up. There seemed to be a bit of controversy being reflected in the comments, so I figured I’d weigh in. He’s a professional photographer, right? He seems to be entertaining comments and his subject matter practically solicits comments, right? Especially given the departure of these photos to his previous subject matter.
I asked him a simple question. I’ll do my best to quote exactly. “Did you get the consent of these girls/young women to take their photo?” I have to do my best to remember, because within minutes my comment was deleted and I was blocked from following Ed’s account.
Whatever, I was not butthurt about it. Sucks that others continued to comment at me and I’m left without a voice, but whatever. So what that this was apparently not an open forum welcoming of respectful comments exploring his questionable photographs. So what if I was silenced from responding to the usual posts to ‘chill out/it’s a joke/it’s art/look what she’s wearing so she had it coming’ and other vitriol that is part and parcel to the daily abuse women and girls take from men for standing up to their crap.
So what if someone wandering in had no idea Mr. Templeton was possibly (and in my case definitely) sanitizing his comment section to reflect his personal preferences. Whatever, it’s his board. He can do as he pleases. Meh, whatever I’m outahere.
But while I was getting my coffee a few minutes later, I began to get more and more angry for these girls. Did he get consent from these girls? If so, did he tell them what he was going to do to their photographs?
Were these girls informed that a professional photographer quietly taking their picture on the street was going to publish that photo on a public forum? Did he tell them these images would be piped directly to his 100k+ followers?
Did he tell these girls that he would be deliberately drawing attention to their genitals? Did he tell them that commenters to their images would excuse the photographer by saying that because girls left their houses in swimwear, they had it coming?
Yes Mr/Ms ohber, scary indeed.
My comment was PROMPTLY deleted, as well as my access to view his public account for a comment that I feel demands a PROMPT ANSWER. I can only assume do to the extreme negative reaction of Mr. Templeton to my comment in regard to whether the individuals photographed by him gave their consent to have such done and to have their images manipulated in such a way, that the answer is no, he did not get their consent. We may never know, unless these girls speak up for themselves or if Ed Templeton speaks up for himself. Hell, were these girls even over 18? Can he answer THAT?
Legally speaking, if an individual is in a public space, their rights to privacy are modified, of course. But I have to wonder if that includes this sort of photo manipulation, does it include this sort of manipulation if the subject is a minor? Regardless of what’s legal, what about what’s right? Has anyone asked these girls their opinion on the matter? Doesn’t that count for something?
To be perfectly fair to Mr. Templeton, he disavows any intent to troll us. This is all a little social “experiment”. You know, a la Sam Pepper?
So, ok. Mr. Templeton is using Jimmy Fallon and Kimmel as cover. "Wow, what a thought provoking response to my perfectly innocent placement of bubbles. Huh, this is new! We had no idea that placing these bubbles would create puerile thoughts in the viewer!" Oh wait, but by your own admission, you DID know. If a mind instantly fills with curse words, ergo it fills with ‘teh booty’.
Tastefully speaking, and humanistically speaking, the photos are derivative and leave a great deal to be desired. But let’s move on.
As I have yet to be banned/barred from giving my opinion and having a voice on this forum, I’d like to direct some thoughts to Mr. Templeton.
Mr. Templeton, this is not art. 4chan beat you to it, and did a better job of it than you. And even then it’s objectionable material. “But he did it, too, Mommy!” arguments do not apply in the world of grownups.
Mr. Templeton, this is not a joke. This material has been worked to death. And even then it’s questionable. Further, I wonder how funny these young women find your treatment of their bodies.
Mr. Templeton, you are not using Instagram as a provocative showcase to inspire enlightened debate. If so, then why was my post (and possibly others like mine) deleted so quickly and meticulously when other more harmful comments have been allowed to remain?
Perhaps Mr. Templeton overlooked the above.
Mr. Templeton, this is not empowering or body affirmative. Mr. Templeton this is not “just a photo of a girl in a bikini covered with red dots” No sir, no it is not. This goes without saying. To say otherwise is an excuse, deliberate obtuseness and just the kind of attitude that enables the casual use of a woman’s body without her CONSENT! As you said yourself sir, “these girls would never be nude in public like this” But you knew that, you say as much, then you ‘virtually disrobe’ them. To act surprised that people would “fill in the blanks” is disingenuous at least and irresponsible at worst. Don’t you know how the internet works sir? What if these girls get doxxed?
Again, and I cannot stress the importance of this answer enough, DID YOU GET THESE GIRLS’ FULLY INFORMED CONSENT? Were they made aware of the full ramifications of being exposed like this? If not, you are not a photographer, you are a skeevy old man taking pervy pictures of young, innocent people.
I want to make it clear to Mr. Templeton that when a young woman or girl walks out of her home she is not consenting to being made an object of ridicule.
She is not consenting to being made an object of sexualization.
She has not consented to being virtually stripped.
She has not consented to being subjected to the gaze of tens of thousands of Mr. Templeton’s followers for the purposes of titillation and his own self promotion.
And in the event I have this all wrong, in spite of my prompt deletion and silencing the moment I brought up the question of consent, in the event that this is all a misunderstanding and not a deliberate removal of voices that rightly seek to ensure the safety and willingness of your subjects, and in the event that these young girls/women accepted being virtually stripped, accepted having their genitals drawn attention to, accepted being the subject of a one sided dialog of misogynistic apologists, that they can take a joke where men are laughing AT them and not WITH them, in the event I got this all wrong, in the event that you DID in fact get these young people’s fully informed consent and thought it was no big deal to expose them to your followers and the public at large, if considering your many comments responding to your followers posts which makes it clear you had to have been perfectly aware of their content, if you think that it’s still ok to post photographs of these (and I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here) young women (and not underage girls)….you have my deepest and most sincere of apologies.
But I still accuse you, Mr. Templeton of very poor taste.
I ask my dear Tumblr constituents, please let Mr. Templeton know how you feel about his “body of work”. Please signal boost. And bro’s? Bring it on.