No, Central Track, You Can't Post Nude Photos of Women Against Their Wishes

naked lady time.jpg
I rarely chime in when it comes to happenings at Central Track, the side-scrolling music and culture web site, but yesterday the site did something so appalling that I'm putting my morning on hold to work through it.

There's a newish event in Dallas called Naked Girls Reading, and yes, it is much like the title implies. A panel of ladies craft a night of literature around a theme, then they read selections in the buff.

Initially, I assumed the worst. I worried that this would be a flesh-for-fee event, and we'd see vapidity, derobed. So I investigated, as all should do when questioning validity, and I couldn't have been more incorrect. From the moment Friday night's show began I realized that Naked Girls Reading is an absurdist piece of performance art, and within that context, the nudity is bizarrely fascinating.

See also:
See also: On Friday Night, Naked Women Read Flannery O'Connor and Mark Twain in Deep Ellum.

Each woman on stage was so bold, brave and funny. Not only were they secure in their bodies, which ran the gamut of jiggly shapes, they were raising money for Dolly Parton's literacy charity, reciting passages from Loretta Lynn's biography and stressing the importance of identity and culture through heirloom cornbread recipes.

These were all women I would be honored to have over for brunch.

That's why my heart nearly halted when I clicked on Central Track's coverage: It was a jack-off reel of full-frontal nudity photographs from the event. There were money shots of nipples. Skeezy up-close photos of muff. And, of course, combination pictures that lecherously scanned the women -- all of whom were operating under fake names to protect their careers and identities -- from their Florida Keys all the way up to their West Palms. Some are wives and mothers.

The rules regarding photography at Naked Girls Reading are quite clear. They're listed on their press materials, website, through contact with the show's promoter Black Mariah, and again at the event itself, before the curtain lifts.

Central Track's locker room editorial office somehow missed all of that.

This could be because there was no actual editorial coverage from the night. Nobody went to see why these women were nude, or how it rounded out the subversive nature of the literature being presented. Instead they sent a camera, then posted the evidence greedily, without context or approval from the show's organizers.

The original post's limited text, penned by Pete Freedman, stated oafishly that they weren't "sure what to believe about the affair," but that "these pictures are pretty choice."

As soon as Naked Girls Reading was alerted that their bodies had been looted for page hits, Black Mariah tracked Freedman down and told him to remove the content immediately. By then, of course, it had already been tweeted out more than a hundred times.

I feel crushed for these women, and wish I could throw a blanket over the post, which was screen-shot and saved, and is still being emailed and messaged around. We respect these ladies: Their bodies are not up for unconsenting grabs, they are not to be sold sacrificially for page clicks against their wishes. They are not to be divorced from their art.

Central Track apologized and cropped the images, which now show mostly breast and higher, blaming the original act of defilement on miscommunication. But if you can't turn up to review the event, you'd better make damn sure that you're allowed access to those women's bodies before you tweet pictures of their vaginas out to the universe.

I thought this went without saying, but clearly it didn't.


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23 comments
blapblop
blapblop

I'm a little confused.  I'm a woman and a feminist and obviously the publication didn't read all the rules or understand (or care) what the intention of the event was and that's on them.  But these weren't like dressing room creeper pictures, they took pictures of what was happening on stage, no?  Obviously, the tone of the the pictures and the way they were published was crass and violated the rules but it seems like a somewhat unique situation- burlesque photo rules for an event that shows way more skin than average burlesque.  I'm not saying the photographer wasn't a total creep but the show does have "naked women" in the title - it's obviously supposed to be subversive and artistic but it's a bit naive to act surprised that it could be written about in a salacious way. Not to shit on my hometown but Dallas isn't generally known as the most progressive place on earth when it comes to these things, it's great that there is a dialogue about it, but I'm not totally enraged about it either.

Mary
Mary

Excuses and false apologies don't fly--CentralTrack and PF executed a salacious, sensationalist and exploitive act and call it "journalism". They should be boycotted. Hit them where it REALLY hurts---in the pocket.

hamptonmills
hamptonmills

where were we?  sorry.  i got lost in "naked sunday funday" photos.  

PeteFreedman
PeteFreedman

Jamie:

Do you make it out to every event covered by the Observer? Do you read every photo release signed by every Observer photographer? Of course not. That would be impossible. Surely,you haven't attended every salacious burlesque performance or nightclub event that the Observer has covered (especially those marked as "NSFW") in the past. 

You are right, though: I unfortunately could not make this event on Friday evening and, as such, I trusted our photographer to cover it and according to the set guidelines. Perhaps wrongfully, we assumed that the photos submitted by him to us were good to use; we had no reason to believe at the time that they weren't.

As soon as the NGR folks reached out to us and requested that we take the photos down, we apologized and complied, taking down the original images and replacing them with photos that fit the standards we were then made aware of. As you note in your piece here, yes, this very much was a matter of miscommunication --  that's not a cop-out, just the truth -- and we have done everything in our power to remedy the situation since becoming aware of it.

I would also like to take this opportunity to once again to apologize to anyone we may have offended with the initial post.

We strive to carry ourselves in a professional, tasteful manner at Central Track. We are not perfect, but we don't take ads from strip clubs or escort services. We also don't have ties to companies involved in lawsuits involving sex trafficking accusations. 

We are also in the business of making phone calls to sources before accusing them for wrongdoings that they may or may not have been involved in. It hasn't been that long since I worked at the Observer; surely, someone up there has a phone number for me that you could've called in order to maybe hear our side before trying to dirty Central Track's name.

Nonetheless, that's neither here nor there nor pertinent to the matter. This is: We corrected the issue and will continue to do so as necessary.

Pete Freedman
Central Track

FemenistIdiocy
FemenistIdiocy

Tap the breaks.


They publicize an event called "Naked girls (doing whatever)"


Central Track has the right to cover the story in a manner of their choosing.   The anus is on those holding the event to consider this.


I bet you think it's a woman's RIGHT to enter the men's locker room after a game, but the notion of men gaining equal access is "pervy,"  or some other stupid word.


Grow up.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

Overwhelmingly classy move, CentralTrack. Just astounding. 

Jamie_L.
Jamie_L.

@blapblop I understand all of these points and I appreciate your voice. If you're ever up for it, I suggest you pop into a Naked Girls Reading and check it out. You might really dig it. It's a unique situation best ventured into with an open mind, and it sounds like you have one. Honestly, I might not have humbled myself to be open to the experience if so many writers I admire hadn't given it such positive reviews in other cities, as well as our own coverage of their first event back in August. The title is shockingly jarring, and that's certainly by design. Once inside, I've got to say that it's one of the most uplifting nights of literature I've been to in Dallas. 

Also, it clocks in at 3 hours of content, so the first blush of nudity fades away rather quickly. It's bizarre, and I couldn't have understood it either if I hadn't gone, but in this circumstance you cannot separate the nudity from the reader. 

bifftannen
bifftannen

@PeteFreedman Your rebuttal boils down to: "We may be bad, but look at those guys!" Whatever ground you stood on just dissolved under your feet. Why didn't you just invoke Godwin and be done with it?

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@FemenistIdiocy The "anus" is on those holding the event, is it? I can't tell if this is intentional or the most hilarious bit of accidental idiocy I've ever seen. 

And as Jamie said below, nope, Central Track doesn't have the "right" to photograph women at a private event against both their express wishes and the rules of the event. 

Nice trolling, though. 

Jamie_L.
Jamie_L.

@FemenistIdiocy That's just a weird argument. Let's look at this: reporting from and interviewing people in a locker room setting is not the same thing as sending a camera in to a piece of performance art, violating the rules and criteria defined in advance for covering the event, and smapping a bunch of photos of women's vaginas, then  posting them on the internet.

When women report from a locker room, they interview players about sports. It's a job they've trained and interviewed for and were hired to do based on merit. They do not post penis pictures on the internet, and call them "choice." 

Before the event began, it was clear that anyone caught taking salacious photos would be removed from the venue. Central Track's images should have been vetted by the show's promoter; these women DID NOT CONSENT to that exposure. I hope that clears it up.


PeteFreedman
PeteFreedman

@bifftannen Sure, that, plus multiple apologies and an explanation of how the matter came to pass and how we acted quickly to correct it.

Grau
Grau

@Jamie_L. I'm just curious as to what the rules for photography actually were. The article is pretty vague, and the rules don't appear to be posted on the website (contrary to what the article says).

Jamie_L.
Jamie_L.

@hamptonmills I think you're misunderstanding why this action made me upset, so I'll explain it directly: it isn't due to sex, or sexy photos or images that relate to the act of sex. 

I like sex. Everyone I know likes sex. It's a driving force in many of our lives -- hell, we wouldn't be here without it. 

What I don't like is unconsented violation of women's bodies, and that's what happened in the case of this article, and Central Track is not denying that. These slideshows you're referencing were taken with full consent (and are not, and wouldn't be, full-frontal). I hope that's helpful.

cleaver.gavin
cleaver.gavin

@PeteFreedman @bifftannen The fundamental principle of consent, as most memorably depicted by the Lockean social compact, is noticeable by its absence in your defense of the public dissemination of these pictures. Foremost, Locke would disagree with the notion that our publishing of adverts (of a somewhat grittier nature than your publication might see fit to dabble in) equate to a similar discursive topic as said adverts feature consenting models offering a consenting service.


The lack of consent given by the subjects of your tawdry expose would imply that, in fact, you not only fall foul of some of the governing principles of a social contract, but that you yourselves are the smut-peddlers. Good day to you sir.


highbrowlowbrowmusic.blogspot.com

Grau
Grau

@Jamie_L. @Grau I see. Thanks for the reply. It seems odd to me that they would allow outside photography at all at an event like this, especially if there are concerns about people privacy/identity/etc. I guess that Black Mariah expected them to be more tactful when it came to using the images though.

Jamie_L.
Jamie_L.

@Grau @Jamie_L. Hey Grau, thanks for the comment. They are zero photography explicit when you go to purchase tickets for the event, also on their press releases, and it was listed on their website for Southern Drawl -- Friday's presentation -- before the page expired. When handled by a media publication, it should be cleared on both ends with Black Mariah. This was the first time she's allowed Central Track access to one of her events. 

Press photography cannot involve anything beyond basic burlesque, no nipples and certainly no full-frontal, but the line between artful representation and the rest is left up to the women. They aren't prudes, but they also are not porn stars. Mostly, they ask that you use the pictures their photographers take, because they are trained in what is, and isn't, acceptable.  I've never been to an event -- in ten years of entertainment coverage -- that allowed press to photograph women's vaginas and tits and then openly distribute them. Strip clubs don't even allow that.

That's why this struck me as so odd. Why wouldn't Central Track think it's strange that this event would be the one exception to that rule? It's completely unprecedented. It makes no sense. Freedman isn't new to the game; he really does know better.

hamptonmills
hamptonmills

@Jamie_L. @hamptonmills thanks jamie.  i certainly understand the notion of consent being the sticking point here.  i also see that pete's response and subsequent actions seem to address that succinctly. 

my comment above was actually directed towards bifftannen's high-brow dig against CT and their readers.


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