The term “The Fappening"—in reference to that recent celebrity nude photo heist—seems to have stuck. It was named that by a small subset of poindexters, operating primarily on Reddit and 4chan. Like so many things that start in those places, it went viral, and now even Yahoo News is using the term. It's a portmanteau of the M. Night Shyamalan movie The Happening, (obviously) and “fap,” a euphemism for overlubricated male masturbation. This kind of viral catchiness is relatively easy to manufacture. Trying to spin the event into positive PR, however, has been a massive blunder.
Within hours of the photos leaking, a subreddit devoted entirely to these nude photos had not only sprung up, but acquired over 100,000 subscribers. As of this writing, the subreddit had grown to over 140,000 subscribers. In many ways, these connoisseurs of fapping are behaving in ways you’d expect them to. They’re posting tons of celebrity nudes, desperately asking for verification on others, and doing the math on how much jizz has been expelled as a result of the celebrity photo leak. But these math-and-jizz-loving Redditors also have a surprising goal: to raise money for charity, and in the process, improve Reddit’s public image.
Their first idea was to raise money for prostate cancer, with the reasoning that Jennifer Lawrence had at one point donated to a prostate cancer research foundation. Fappeners were excited about the potential headlines. One Redditor named TheJanders wrote, “Holy shit the news would be amazing. ‘spreaders of leaked celebrity nude photos raise millions for prostate cancer!’” “Hoorah,” the forum intoned, and thus began the flood of donations to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. On September 1, “Reddit The Fappening” was the top fundraiser for PCF. Our merry fappeners rejoiced.
But then, all at once, the PCF caught wind of where these donations were coming from, denounced the Reddit fundraiser, and returned all the donations that had come from the Reddit post, saying “[they] would never condone raising funds for cancer research in this manner.” And that, gentle readers, is the story of when I laughed so hard I pulled a muscle. Don’t laugh, you damn kids, it will happen to you one day.
Having exhausted their male-physiology-specific charity ideas, these fappuccinos now needed a new charity to jerk off to. But which charity?! Then one Redditor was like, “hey, what about water, I guess?” and the rest of them were like “oh yeah, I guess everyone needs water,” and so the board turned its attention to water.org, a charity whose mission is to bring clean water to communities without it. Everything was going just fappingly, until Water.org found out where these jizzy donations were coming from, and, like the Prostate Cancer Foundation, rejected them for being too gross. Water.org shut down Reddit’s donation page, which now displays the hilariously insulting message “you’ve changed 0 lives with access to safe water.”
Sadly, as of right now our Fappeners are jism-covered orphans without a charity to call home. Will any charity accept their disgusting money?
A better question might be: why do these Redditors care? Just like with 4chan’s creation of video game character Vivian James, these Fappeners are operating as though good PR for Reddit would directly benefit them. I don’t doubt that some of them want to donate as a good deed. But the forum boasts a disproportionate number of posts and comments extolling the virtues of creating a positive image for Reddit. Reddit is a community manager’s dream: a huge group of unpaid people who have made the company’s PR their personal concern. Do they know they aren’t Reddit shareholders? Do they think their passionate defense of Reddit is going to lead to job offers?
More likely, they just want to think of themselves as good—some vague definition of good—like most of us do. They probably spend a lot of their time on Reddit, and if the public at large thinks Reddit is good, then they, the individuals who comprise Reddit, must themselves be good, right? The problem is that their charity work doesn't undo the sexist, aggressive violation of privacy that was the celebrity photo leak. Subscribers to The Fappening forum universally condone the leak—it’s an unspoken requirement for subscribing. One user posted a screenshot of a Huffington post tweet that read “here’s why you should absolutely feel guilty for googling Jennifer Lawrence’s leaked photos.” The user titled his post, “No, no I feel pretty good thanks.” The post has 1673 upvotes.
There is no question that this forum is pro-leaking celebrity nudes without the celebrity’s consent, pro-looking at them, and pro-driving traffic to the sites that published them. Turning around and donating money to a charity does nothing to offset that sense of entitlement, and it doesn’t undo any of the damage that was done. You still did something reprehensible, and you don’t get to feel better because you then did something irrelevant, even if that irrelevant thing was nice. You can’t punch a guy, give a present to a different guy, and call it even.
Plus, if no one will accept your irrelevant olive branch, you can’t even say you did anything nice.
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