Chinese Communist authorities have said the distribution of a sex tape purportedly shot in a fitting room in one of Beijing's trendiest shopping malls is "against socialist core values", after the footage went viral. But it is not every day that such a video catches national attention and creates an uproar in public discourse.
Usually it would have to involve celebrities. But the one-minute clip that went viral on July 14 featured an anonymous couple. This piece of information popped up on the soundtrack via the PA system.
A seemingly vast majority of opinions believe this was a marketing gimmick. Since the people in the video were not entertainers, Uniqlo, the retailer, was the only party who gained tremendous exposure through this incident.
As Uniqlo is a Japanese franchise and anti-Japanese sentiments are easily stimulated, there is little sympathy for it among the Chinese public. Uniqlo has categorically denied any involvement.
It is presumably cooperating with the police in probing into the matter. Like most garment and apparel stores, it separates its fitting rooms by gender and allows only one person into a room at a time. If the video was not digitally manipulated, the couple may have slipped through the guard.
But then, even a home video can be easily altered. To use the same conspiracy theory that Uniqlo planned it to ratchet up its name recognition, it would also be plausible that a competitor faked it to destroy Uniqlo's reputation. A fitting room, like a public toilet, is unique in that it is a private space within a public sphere. And like the public toilet, it serves a specified purpose. So, whether out of passion or adventure, the couple in the video violated the implicit rule regarding the use of a fitting room.
Some legal experts have come forward and explained that this was not illegal, per se. Now there have been sporadic reports that the couple in question were shocked to find their intimacy made public in such a brutal manner. They've insisted they never intended the video for public consumption.
If that is true, one possibility was their cellphone or computer was hacked. There seems to be a consensus, at least among pundits, that whoever uploaded it was more egregious in the violation of morality and possibly the law. It would have been a flagrant infringement of personal privacy and, as the content could be deemed pornographic in nature, spreading it, with or without the consent of the persons involved in the making of the video, would run counter to the law.
More troubling than that is the carnival-like atmosphere that surrounded the exposure of such personal privacy. They denounced the maker, distributor and the possible backer of the video, rarely contemplating the possibility that the three roles could be separated and, in each case, there could be a different perpetrator and a different victim.
And this on legitimate websites and after rounds of government campaigns to root out online pornography. The demand for titillation will always exist, and it depends on how and where the libido will be channeled. In a sense, the one who had sex in a fitting room represented the public at large in that the impropriety, if not uncovered, would enhance one's feeling of bravado and, under the cloak of anonymity, would not incur much risk.