Chelsea Handler has apparently pioneered a hilarious new form of political dissent in a topless jab at Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mocking an infamous photo of Putin riding a horse with his shirt off, Handler recreated the shot herself, to her signature comedic effect. Putin has been under a constant stream of moderate civil protest in recent years for his stances on issues that countries in the West have embraced, such as same-sex marriage.
What is strange, however, is that now Chelsea Handler’s political protest is pointed much closer to home. She has announced that she will stop using Instagram, opting instead to use twitter in its place. Handler had posted her aforementioned topless photo to Instagram, and it had been removed on account of violating the terms of service. Handler’s contention is that if men are allowed to post topless photos of themselves on Instagram, then not allowing women to do the same is too blatant of an example of inequality to tolerate.
While her initial concept of taking the photo and posting it to Instagram may have been intended to be controversial, Chelsea Handler is in line with the direction that America seems to be evolving in. Traditionally conservative attitudes towards many cultural institutions have been waning, with a majority of Americans not viewing recreational marijuana as harmful enough to prohibit, and television networks having had just that many more years under their belts to test the limits of how much skin can be aired, while angry calls of outraged citizens to the FCC have all but dried up. Even the traditionally conservative Republican Party have softened up, and many of their candidates have come around to support marriage equality.
Regardless, coming from her, it should hardly be surprising. The widely popular Chelsea Handler has incorporated her challenging of the cultural taboo of being topless or nude while female into her bits several times in the past, so why stop short of making use of it to take a jab at Putin?
Time Magazine’s Charlotte Atler provided the opinion of dissent in an article yesterday. Atler made the claim that Instagram was correct in censoring Chelsea Handler, because her casual use of nudity on Instagram would set an example for teens who already have a statistically high rate of using technology to send and view compromising self-photography. Her point was ultimately that it would make Instagram a less safe place for kids if nudity were tolerated on the site.
And that is a valid concern, although Atler was quick to pre-emptively dismiss any line of reasoning that would put the responsibility of monitoring the site onto the owners, implying that it was unrealistic to expect them to perform effectively in that role. Atler also made a strong contention that the likely inevitable result would be Instagram’s unintentional hosting of revenge porn. That is a definite possibility, and worth hefty consideration, but the same could be said of most of the internet. Somehow SnapChat still exists, when it seems like the only point to the application at all is its promise of illicit facilitation.
Also, perhaps people should be concerned that parental oversight and involvement was not a point brought up in her article at all. Maybe one of the problems is that it is so common now to buy $700 phones for teens who are not mature enough to stay responsible in their use. It may be that smart phones are taking the role of babysitter. One way or the other, it is unlikely that Chelsea Handler’s discontinued use will spell the end for Instagram, but her topless jab at Putin was certainly funny.
Opinion by Brian Whittemore