Are Celeb “Sex Tapes With No Sex” The New Sex Tapes?

You call that a sex tape? Still images from LeAnn Rimes’ alleged sex tape finally surfaced yesterday and holy moly, she’s wearing a tanktop and a ponytail and … yeah, it’s lame. Like, really lame. Like, why-did-I-click-this lame. Rimes was adamant on Twitter that she “never filmed [herself] having sex on tape, period” and if the images from this “sex tape” are any indication, that’s the truth.

In the old days, a sex tape was a sex tape. Pamela Anderson banged Tommy Lee in theirs. Colin Farell went down on a woman in his. R. Kelly peed on someone in his. Even Christian pageant queen Carrie Prejean masturbated in hers. The point is, back in the day, a sex tape had sex in it.Then, imperceptibly, something changed. Maybe it’s because the public’s demand for celebrity sex tapes exceeded the supply. Maybe it’s because celebs wised up and turned the video camera off. (Just kidding, that will never happen.) But now celebrity publicists — and celebs themselves — are forced to respond to scandals that, while embarrassing, really do not involve sex at all. These celebs have the new breed of sex tapes: “sex tapes with no sex.”

The first inkling of a sea change happened in Rebecca Gayhart and Eric Dane’s crack-smoking, hot tub “threesome” sex tape. The couple lazed around in the nude with “beauty-queen-turned-Hollywood-madam” Kari Ann Peniche, which may not be something to write home to your mother about, but it’s still not the nasty. Lawyers for the couple released a statement insisting it be called a “nude tape,” not a sex tape.

Jennifer Lopez and her lawyers have also been battling the release of a “sex tape” for the past months … although upon further investigation, all the video shows is some spanking. Lopez’s repeated efforts to stop the video, which was filmed on her honeymoon with her first husband, Ojani Noa, clearly indicate she doesn’t want the public seeing any of her hanky panky. (But still, I have to ask, J.Lo, what’s the big deal?)

And now, LeAnn Rimes and her publicist are stuck playing defense on a “sex tape without sex.” (Although, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see Leann Rimes in the buff. She will forever in my mind be a 15-year-old girl warbling “How Do I” on the soft rock stations they play in doctor’s office waiting rooms.) Like I said before, it’s just lame.

What gives, America? Are we so desperate to see our famous people — the beautiful and the rich and the lucky — humiliated and taken down a peg that any embarrassing video will do? Are we so nosy about other people’s intimate lives that we want to watch how they perform in bed — or, if that’s not on the offering table, any hint of skin at all? Or have we been so accustomed to a disingenuous tabloid media that we’re OK with videos that aren’t sex tapes lazily being called “sex tapes” as a cultural shorthand for naughty pics.

I don’t know the answer. But I do know that I’m over it. The next time the celebrity gossip blogs start screaming about a celebrity sex tape, there had damn well better be some actual f**king.


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