When I was a troublesome teenager in the heart of industrial England I remember a man in our street being the subject of huge derision, and eventually a gaol term. It wasn't particularly unusual for people where we lived to go to gaol, but he became a social outcast as a result of his behaviour. He even had to sell up and move away when her Majesty released him from the clink. This poor misguided soul been caught peering through bathroom windows from close up: and he wasn't a window cleaner. Presumably, although I have no evidence for this, he had been peeking at Mrs Smiths and Mrs Browns rather than the male of the household. In hindsight he must have been pretty keen because bathrooms in our street of Victorian terraced houses were all on the second floor. The name given to such people in those days was Peeping Tom and voyeurism was considered to be antisocial.
How times have changed. Now, you can be over a kilometre away and, with the aid of a telescopic lens, you can happily perve on naked bodies, be a voyeur and click away to your heart's content. Not only do you not get arrested for your trouble, but similarly antisocial editors of magazines, with no scruples whatsoever, will pay you lots of money for peeping on the right sort of naked body. Even better, if you happen to find yourself at a party where a famous person has their pants down, or off, you can just click away with your phone and sell the results to the same nasty magazines.
I'm guessing that the reason that behaviour is no longer considered illegal is that somehow it has become more socially acceptable. After all, it is Mr and Mrs Average who buy the magazines and engage in the salacious, but now legitimate game of peeping Tom. Voyeurism has become normal, although Mrs Average, and Mr Average for that matter, might see it differently if someone took pictures of her through the bathroom window. The perpetrator might end up with the camera lodged in an uncomfortable place. So peeping through the bathroom or bedroom window of the rich and famous seems to be a fair sport.
So, what is it with famous boobies and genitals? I am assuming that there must be something really different, fascinating perhaps, about the breasts of the Duchess of Cambridge. Maybe they are on back to front or located under the armpit. And the obsession with Harry's naked frame strikes me as odd indeed - although I'm a bloke and probably, oddly, disinterested. A little bit of research revealed that there are magazines devoted entirely to reporting on the lives of famous people. It is possible to find out that Brad and Angelina have the pet names of Kitty and Miffy for each other. Note that I am on first name terms with these stars of the screen, given I have been so close to their photos. I discovered that the Beckhams broke wind while out shopping and Kim Kardashian is having therapy, probably for being exhausted after her extensive work on discovering the God Particle or curing cancer perhaps!
There are a number of psychological explanations for this, some of them more loopy than the obsession we have with celebrities. But they are all based on the fact that it gives meaning to our lives in some way. As an explanation it makes sense - I really do get it. As a social behaviour it leaves me searching for the anti-depressants.
Dr Stewart Hase is an Adjunct Fellow with Southern Cross University and a consultant psychologist. You can visit his blog at stewarthase.blogspot.com
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