The kerfuffle over those pics of Prince Harry in the buff in Las Vegas will reverberate for a while as The Establishment to’s and fro’s over the morality, ethics and plain business greed of it all.
First published in the US by entertainment and celeb gossip website TMZ, the photos were easily discoverable on the internet with a simple Google search. That is, if you hadn’t already visited TMZ and seen them there.
Here in the UK, it looked for a moment as though we’d be facing another incredible moment of court injunctions forbidding the mainstream media from publishing the photos.
Yes, for a minute it seemed as if everyone still had their heads in the sand in believing that, notwithstanding this thing called ‘the internet’, actions like court injunctions would make it a reality that no one in this country would therefore see any offending content anywhere.
It’s as if nothing’s changed in anyone’s thinking since the Ryan Giggs super-injunction and Twitter fiasco in May last year.
Powerful reasons indeed although no less powerful than the simple business proposition that hot pics of a Royal prince in a popular tabloid newspaper will sell more papers and get more visits to the website, words conspicuously absent from The Sun’s sanctimony in explaining its motives behind publishing the pics (shrewdly dissected in the FT).
Personally, I think Prince Harry made a grave error in judgement in not knowing more about his guests. Still, when you’re 27 and you’re in Las Vegas, perhaps a bit tanked up on booze or other substances, in a male crowd looking for action, finding it in the company of a whole bunch of likeminded pretty girls, well, who’s to say how you’d behave, prince or not?
The ensuing kerfuffle reminds me of the updated version of the phrase “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” that was a catch-point in Eric Qualman’s video on socialnomics – in the video, the final use of ‘Vegas’ morphed into the words Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and other places on the social web.
PaidContent says it well in a good analytical post today with the great headline Prince Harry’s brush with radical transparency: you can’t stop the web:
When the British royal family asked UK newspapers not to publish pictures of Prince Harry frolicking nude in Las Vegas, it seemed like a ludicrous request. But even though the media largely complied, the reality of internet life meant the pictures were impossible to suppress.
[Later:] An interesting twist in the tale, from the City of Las Vegas itself.
The Daily Mail reports that the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LCVA) has launched a website to tackle the violation of its so-called code of honour, called visitlasvegas.com/knowthecode.
The focus of the code relates to that phrase mentioned above – what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas – and how it’s an individual’s responsibility to follow it.
The LCVA’s website – which features an apt adaptation of the well-known “Keep Calm And Carry On” saying that’s popular globally – spells out the code:
I promise to follow the code of Las Vegas by not tweeting, tagging, posting, telling, whispering, emoting, defining, drawing up, writing about or in any way revealing the all-powerful What Happens Here, Stays Here® moment of me or anyone else in my party to others not on said trip during or at any time after said trip’s duration.
The website links to a Facebook page where you can “report code violators.” The site says nearly 92,000 people have “taken the oath” (agreed to follow the code).
An imaginative attempt to prevent what’s happening in Vegas from happening all over the web. Wishing you luck, Vegas.