No matter how purposefully oblivious to pop culture you claim to be, you know who Kristen Stewart is. So when you see the following link on the Huffington Post, you click it: “Kristen Stewart Topless: Actress Gets Naked In ‘On The Road’ (PHOTOS).”
You’re probably at work and you’d probably be embarrassed if someone saw you, but you do it eagerly. Why? Any number of reasons. Perhaps you’re bored (you are at work, after all). Or perhaps you believe it’s important to stay informed of events that society deems important. (Isn’t that why you watched last night’s debate?) But my guess is that you click the link because you’re genuinely intrigued. Kristen Stewart’s attractive and famous — like, really famous — and now you get to see her breasts. So you give in to that tugging curiosity and, making sure no one’s watching, you indulge.
In literature it’s called the Imp of the Perverse, a notion that Edgar Allen Poe popularized in his story of the same name. It’s that desire to satisfy inane cravings at the expense of good sense and productivity. You feel it every time you put off chores to scour a frenemy’s Facebook photos — the draw is intense, almost magnetic. And now, this inescapable human tendency has given rise to an Imp of the Perverse in the literal sense: Perez Hilton and his ilk. They traffic in all that you pretend to ignore; they see the urges you would conceal and they beckon to them, pied pipers summoning your lust for celebrity skin. You read the New Yorker, for crying out loud, but they know — they know — that you want to see Stewart topless. So don’t blame Perez Hilton for providing those racy photos of a lithe 22-year-old actress, and don’t blame the Huffington Post for linking to them — blame the Imp inside.