Feature

Why celeb sex sells, and sells, and sells…

HANNA ALYSSA KRAMER ILLUSTRATION

Posthumous releases by artists are all too common. Musicians, actors, writers, and painters of all calibres have somehow been able to release new art after they’ve entered the afterlife.

And now? Tupac Shakur joins the ever-growing roster of those participating – willingly or not – in the celebrity sex tape trend. The iconic late rapper’s recorded romp is allegedly the centre of a bidding war between two companies willing to drop a significant amount of money to own the rights to the video.

But does anyone really want to see Tupac do the nasty?

“Yeah, I want to see how big he was,” says Mathew Benteau, a former SAIT electrician apprentice.

For the average straight male, these words would unlikely see the light of day, but it seems all inhibitions go out the door when it involves celebrities, sex, and, in this case, Shakur.

A multi-billion dollar industry, pornography satisfies both the likes of men and women. Any sex fetish or desire can be easily satiated by a plethora of pornographic websites online. No matter how private our pornographic desires may be, once a celebrity is thrown into the video and sex equation the public fascination and attention grows tremendously.

But let’s face it, most celebrity sex tapes aren’t that great to watch. Still, the shaky Blair Witch camera shots, poor quality, and tacky night vision simply aren’t enough to turn people off.

In fact, this brand of pornography certainly serves a different purpose than traditional porn. It allows even the subtlest of voyeurs to sneak a peek into the sex life of someone with an unattainable stature. So, what’s so compelling?

“We’re fascinated by celebrities, period, and have been since the dawn of mass culture, if not before that,”
says Toronto-based strategist and pop culture expert Max Valiquette of Bensimon Byrne creative agency.

Valiquette explains that celebrity fixation started as early as the 1800s with French actress Sarah Bernhardt who predates film or television. “There are stories of (Bernhardt) causing a panic wherever she went.”

Actresses aside, he also notes that people were enthralled by athletes that were celebrities in the 1920s, most notably when Babe Ruth reached his peak of fame.

“There’s an element of feeling like you’re watching something that they don’t want you to see,” he says. “It’s satisfying an extreme element that won’t appeal to everybody.”

Step forward Kim Kardashian. It’s no secret Kardashian is considered one of the most talked about women in the United States, but would that be the case if it weren’t for her infamous videotaped romp?

“She was quite literally no one before that (sex tape),” says Valiquette. “And now she’s a multi-million dollar brand, and it all started with a sex tape.”

The video that spread virally in 2007 worked well for Kardashian, but the negative aspect could cut deep for most others.

“If you’re a real honest-to-God legitimate actress, unless your entire image is built around your sexuality, you don’t want that out there,” Valiquette says.

“Truthfully, the celebrities that have been helped by sex tapes that have been very public are in fact those who don’t actually do much else than be a celebrity.” Paris Hilton, this could be your opportunity to stand up, too.

According to TMZ, the official website of Kardashian’s sex tape saw over two million hits between a three-day span when the debutante got married.

Meghan Baim, a first-year Health Information Management (HIM) student, admits to being curious when asked about viewing the infamous tape. “You’re curious because they’re people in the public eye.”

But regardless of stature, some people find they get to know the celebrity in question too well and have no desire to view such sexual material.

“It’s like thinking about your parents having sex,” says Jessica Millar, another first-year HIM student.

Despite the fact that it was released three years ago, the sex tape hasn’t gone away for Kardashian, and probably never will.

“You can’t forget that you’ve seen somebody naked, and you certainly can’t forget that you’ve seen somebody getting plowed,” says Valiquette.

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