It would be pretty naive to think that we could neglect the photos of Greg Oden’s penis that surfaced earlier this week, since they’re arguably the biggest NBA story that’s emerged this week. You can see the photos here, if you’re so inclined. The header made me laugh out loud—"Triflin: Jumpoff Leaks Nude Photos of NBA Star Greg Oden." Somewhere, Fake Scoop Jackson is smiling and shaking his head softly, saying "Brother and sisters, we have a new lesson today. The jumpoff giveth, and the jumpoff taketh away. That’s the game we play, and it’s nothin’ more to say."
But it is news, unfortunately. He’s one of the more notable players in the NBA—if only for his quasi-tragic narrative—and let’s be honest, everyone’s ears perk up a little bit when they hear the word "penis." Penis sells. Penis works. Penis moves the needle. Penis penis penis.
SB Nation’s Blazersedge provided a nice of summary of Oden’s remarks about the photos:
During his remarks, Oden stated that the nude pictures had been taken for a "lady friend" he had been "in a relationship with over a year and a half ago." He said he was no longer in contact with the person for whom the pictures had been taken. Oden clearly sent the pictures to someone he trusted and noted that when he saw the pictures online this morning, "My heart just dropped."
Oden said he had grown a lot as a person in the last year or two and that he no longer takes and sends similar photographs because the internet and social media allow for such rapid distribution of private materials from person to person.
And really, that should be the end of it. There’s nothing particularly interesting about Oden’s photos. Is it surprising that a seven foot basketball player has a gigantic penis? Are gigantic penises impressive? James Wolcott had a great essay on the decline of the celebrity sex tape in last month’s Vanity Fair:
The celebrity sex video is riding on the rims of creative exhaustion, scratchily repeating itself. Celebrity sex tapes should be a far more exciting fugitive genre than they are. Their potential has been under-utilized, squandered—proof that even the standards for exhibitionism in contemporary showbiz have gotten lax, sloppy, and degraded.
Wolcott’s criticism was less remarkable for its substance than the notion that he was writing it in the first place. Celebrity sex videos and nude photos have become so ubiquitous that their mere existence is no longer remarkable. They have to be good to be interesting, and most of them just aren’t very good. Oden’s certainly weren’t. It was just a gigantic dude looking into a mirror taking a picture of his dick. Who cares?
It’d be incredibly condescending to wonder whether the fans in Portland are less de-sensitized to sextapes than the rest of us, but just for the record, that’s pretty much the only way this can be considered a serious problem for Oden. And even in Portland, a city of good people that aren’t constantly besieged by the grime of contemporary media, it seems like something that’ll be forgotten and laughed off in a matter of months.
Greg Oden made a mistake, and because it’s Oden, we feel really bad about it. He’s not the exhibitionist type, and you get the sense that he’s genuinely mortified by all this. But he’ll be fine. He may never have a fulfilling career, but that’s because of injuries; strange naked photos won’t make a difference one way or the other.