TV cop show The Wire was ambitious and ground-breaking and almost universally adored. It showcased the strengths of TV as a storytelling format. It demonstrated that audiences don’t need to be pandered to, with knotty plotting and impenetrable dialogue. And best of all, it’s full of little life lessons appropriate for almost any occasion.
Let’s leave penile recidivist Anthony Weiner to one side – that’s presumably a case of nominative determinism in action.
According to media waffle, rugby’s Danny Cipriani has been kicked to the curb by girlfriend Kelly Brook for allegedly getting involved in some sexting action with a third party. Down under, the chair of Queensland’s Parliament’s ethics committee, Peter Dowling MP, was recently embroiled in a scandal for apparently dunking his penis into a glass of wine. Maybe he felt it might improve the flavour?
Last year a Florida politician, Rep. Richard Steinberg, resigned over, you guessed it, a sexting scandal involving a married prosecutor.
For those not in the know, ‘sexting’ is the practice of sending sexually explicit text messages or photos to somebody who isn’t you. Think “I’ll show you mine if you text me yours”.
First thoughts? I immediately wondered whether the Cipriani/Brook fiasco will fall into the Ashley Cole/Cheryl Cole category from a few years back. Chelsea footballer Ashley cheated on his spouse, a regular high placer in those 100 sexiest women polls they put on for virgins.
A certain type of chap – prominent forehead, thick eyebrows, animal skins, went extinct some-odd thousand years ago – tended to be baffled by the news because she was “well fine”. Some wags made comments about having steak every night but wanting the occasional burger. Because that’s exactly the same thing.
As will be clear from the above, we’re non-judgemental at Frood.
Obviously, a basic hallmark of being a faithful person is not texting photographs of your junk to the world at large. It’s not explicitly included in the wedding vows, but it’s sort of implied.
Nevertheless, sometimes it happens.
Some people claim sex addiction, removed from the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) – the official bible of psychological disorders – for lack of compelling scientific evidence. Others claim drunkenness, or accident (I didn’t mean to get caught…)
Or perhaps a profound fear of mortality, a sense of the passing years and declining powers, of King Cnut ordering the waves back from the shore. Except that Cnut was making a relatively subtle point, whereas you were merely texting poorly written filth to a girl younger than your daughter. Probably with emoticons, you disgusting wretch.
So what have we learned? Using your mobile phone or the internet for the purposes of gratifying your urge to share has become akin to masturbating in public – you can’t really hide what you’re doing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the former, of course, but if you’re in the public eye it’s likely to harm your career. Also, don’t actually masturbate in public, it’s antisocial.
And here’s where The Wire comes in. In The Wire, the police are investigating drug dealers. Both sides engage in a technology war – the cops tap public phones, the dealers move to pay as you go mobiles. And so on.
The Wire teaches us that the solution is clear: IF you’re a public figure AND you want to get your sexting on AND your conscience is on holiday, get a pay as you go mobile phone under a pseudonym. Pay cash. Wear a hat and sunglasses when you buy it. Don’t let your partner find it.
Because, and this is an actual serious point, unless you’re banging a foreign spy who’s pumping you for information (sorry), or your lifestyle is otherwise seriously affecting your ability to do your job, your sexual peccadillos don’t really matter all that much in the grand scheme. Despite what our salacious, gossipy instincts tell us.
Unless you’re stalking someone or your attentions are otherwise unwanted. That’s different.
After all, while one’s sexuality might form a sizeable chunk of their personality, it’s not the whole. And just because I or anyone else might disapprove or find your antics distasteful, doesn’t mean you’re not fit for whatever it is you do. Basically, if you’re even halfway good at your job or are otherwise concerned about your legacy, be discreet.
Or put another way, pretty much the only thing I can remember about Anthony Weiner is that he’s apparently rather fond of photographing his penis.
Keep it consensual and don’t cry phony tears or make up lame excuses when you get caught. Or expect to keep your job, because while approximately 1000% of humanity is probably also guilty of some unseemly sexual practice or other, we’re nothing if not massively hypocritical.
And if you spy an Old Etonian with a thick Baltimore accent, well you’re screwed (sorry again). So you might as well start working on your resignation speech. Be sure to thank your partner for his/her support through this difficult time.