Ask Will Amos if there’s anything funny about the nude image incident, and the answer is no. In our interview with our MP, he was unequivocal: sure, some people may be telling him to “laugh it off,” but there’s nothing amusing about being publicly ridiculed on an international scale.
Many of us did laugh. At first, the headlines about an MP caught naked on ‘candid video camera’ during a House of Commons question period seemed ridiculously funny. On the surface, it appeared to be an innocent technology gaffe that so many of us are experiencing under this new, Zoom-dominated, work-at-home life. (Who hasn’t seen a towel-clad hubby in the background of a work meeting?) Was it not in the same vein as the hysterical lawyer-arguing-his case-with-a-cat-head video that went viral just a few short weeks ago?
No, it wasn’t. And it took many of us a few days, and a call for a parliamentary investigation, to figure that out.
That image could have been of any of us. Cameras are in our private spaces invading our personal lives all the time now, and will continue to do so after the pandemic. Images live forever on the internet, and heaping public ridicule on individuals has permanent and devastating effects.
In Amos’ case, all theories point to a case of dirty politics, and whomever shared the naked image intended to harm his reputation. Amos is a seasoned politician now with a thick skin; he’ll get past this moment — in time. After all, he’s a good and decent person who takes his job as our MP very seriously — he doesn’t deserve to be eviscerated over an innocent mistake.
Let’s be honest, if this had happened to a woman, would anybody treat it as a laughing matter to widely share a nude image taken without her consent? No.
In fact, it would be seen right away for what it is: a potential crime. Now that the ‘joke’ is over, the sobering bigger picture has come to light: that people of all walks of life need a better understanding of the impacts of sharing private, intimate images of people on the internet and elsewhere. It’s a serious problem; cases are on the rise as we further meld our private lives with technology. It’s not OK to leak a nude photo of a politician, just like it’s not OK to widely share a photo of your ex-partner in an intimate act (that’s called revenge porn) or for a young teen to text message their friends a topless photo of a girl after a hook-up (that’s called child porn), and the list goes on.
Amos takes it on the chin for the rest of us when he says “maybe it’s better that it was me” than someone more vulnerable, if only because his story makes for a powerful cautionary tale — it may just prevent someone else from sharing something private and damaging about another person online.
Meanwhile, next time you see our MP, give him a smile – a compassionate one – he could probably use the boost.