How Should Celebrities Respond to Embarrassing Leaks?

J LawConfession: we mostly ignored Twitter over the long weekend and did not receive the same barrage of news about celebrity image leaks that filled everyone’s timelines on Sunday and Monday.

We have to agree with the sentiments expressed by posts on Forbes and New York magazine, among others: “scandal” is the wrong word to use for a story that involves the sharing of “content” never intended to be public, and the way we approach this topic confirms the persistence of gender-based double standards that have managed to seep into every corner of our society.

We won’t even comment on the asinine arguments made by the people who tried to justify the posting of these images (the very same people who spend so much time ranting about the NSA from their comfy basement perches).

The question, then: how should famous people respond to potentially embarrassing revelations like these?

Let’s consider the varied responses of those named:

Representatives for Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton quickly confirmed that the photos were real and that they plan legal action against all parties who post them. Upton’s lawyer told E! yesterday:

“We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible.”

Pop singer Ariana Grande chose a less traditional response, and we can only hope that someone warned her not to tweet this message:

Actress/musician Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s bold statements (and the sadly predictable responses to those statements) provide a mirror image of the tweet above:


Kirsten Dunst and singer Victoria Justice took the opportunity to turn the incident into a joke:


The women affected in this case had different reasons for responding the way they did, and we feel like Lawrence will almost certainly reaffirm the casual persona that has won her so much attention by laughing about the matter with Conan in the next few weeks or months.

Yet Winstead’s bold tweets made the strongest impression while simultaneously confirming that silence is almost always the safest — if not necessarily the most effective — way to address a potentially embarrassing story.

What do we think? How would we advise celebrity clients in similar situations? (And yes, we’re very aware that certain people have turned “leaks” into depressingly lucrative careers.)

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.