On Thursday afternoon, Judd Apatow weighed in on a series of email exchanges between Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Amy Pascal and film producer Scott Rudin that were leaked in a hacker attack at Sony.
In one leaked email, Rudin referred to Angelina Jolie as “a minimally talented spoiled brat” and “a camp event and a celebrity and that’s all.” In another, the pair joked about which movies President Barack Obama would like and listed Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, Think Like a Man, and The Butler—all movies that feature predominantly black casts or stories about black characters. Rudin and Pascal both apologized for the race-related remarks on Thursday.
Apatow compared the email leak to the nude photo leak earlier this year that targeted female celebrities like Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kate Upton, and, perhaps most famously, Jennifer Lawrence:
Releasing private Sony e mails to hurt people is the same as releasing nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence. Why are they ok to print?
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) diciembre 11, 2014
There’s a valid comparison to be made here, and Apatow certainly isn’t the first to make it. Both cases involve invasions of privacy and high-profile figures enduring some degree of public shaming as a result—and in both cases, it would be a more ethical choice for the public to politely look away from the illegally obtained documents, no matter how juicy their contents may be, to discourage future attacks of a similar nature.
But there’s a crucial difference between having your damaging jokes about someone else’s race exposed online without your permission and having your naked body exposed online without your permission, and it goes without saying which one is a graver threat to a person’s dignity. Not to mention that getting publicly shamed for an act that’s generally considered hurtful and offensive isn’t the same as getting publicly shamed for what’s frequently a consensual act of affection.