Kendra Sunderland: Did Video Kill The Oregon Star?

If Andy Warhol were alive today would he jump for joy at the realization that his “15 minutes of fame” proclamation becomes truer with each passing day?

In the parallel universe we have created for ourselves, teeming with YouTube celebs, popular bloggers and even those the subject of misfortune caught on camera, Lou Reed’s pal’s prophetic words were right on the money.

Former Oregon State University (OSU) student Kendra Sunderland, 19, is the latest figure to be put on a pedestal for the big eye in the sky. Sunderland’s name was all over the wires this past week as a video of her getting up to all kinds of mischief in the University’s library surfaced on PornHub, where it was enjoyed by upwards of 262,000 people.

For those of you who love a nice coincidence, Oregon State’s football team is known as the Beavers.

So far, old news, right? Person uploads naughty video to internet, people watch, pass it on and the cycle continues. That’s the usual script anyway. Except this time, Sunderland was arrested by Oregon police for public indecency and faces up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine. The video was removed (well, the genie’s out of the bottle on that one but still) and Sunderland has all of a sudden become the hottest new name on people’s lips.

We’ve all heard the phrase “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” How about this: if a crime is alleged to have been committed but there are no primary witnesses is it still an offence?

Upon viewing, Ms. Sunderland’s video is erotic, fun, intimate and now comes with added bonus of a ball-bustin’, job-losin’ scandal. Starting in a wispy see-through top, Kendra is quick to flash her rather ample breasts with both nipples pierced from the very beginning.

In a pressurized environment only a born exhibitionist could endure, Kendra quickly slides on a hooded top to cover her bare torso, before wiggling her tight, ripped jeans down to show a leopard-print thong.
She continues to type messages to an unidentified viewer (who was probably counting his lucky stars by this point) and pull the odd pose and pout here and there. Things heat up as time goes by; Kendra masturbates underneath her jeans, plays with her breasts some more and pulls a few ‘lucky escape’ faces after the one or two instances where another person walks past, oblivious to what’s happening mere feet away from them. It finally hits needle-in-red-territory when, legs spread, she gives our Mystery Viewer a glimpse into that most intimate of areas.

As is often the case, Ms. Sunderland’s biggest mistake was getting caught. But the incident, the authorities’ reaction and that of the wider public throws up new questions for a society, or indeed an entire race, who are discovering new ways to express themselves. They can choose to broadcast to as wide an audience as possible. They may even choose to sexually explicit things. Fancy that. Such is the spectrum of life.

The video, which was shot towards the end of 2014, was uploaded by another party, but Kendra has not shied away from the surge of attention that has swiftly narrowed onto her.

Posting a raft of new and revealing selfies on her Instagram, Kendra stated that “Yes I am that girl… Thank you to my supporters. Live life and be happy.” She also gives an email address for “business enquiries”. Is Kendra about to ramp up her presence with more modelling? Even porn work? Nobody knows because nobody has managed to pin her down yet. Inevitably, a plethora of fake social media accounts have sprung up, all claiming to be the bookworm’s girl of choice.

The reaction, even from fellow students, appeared to be one tinged with disappointment. Local news outlet Kezi 9 reported students as staff saying Kendra’s actions were “inappropriate” and something “to be done in private but not public. Ever.” Bunch of squares!

“The University does not condone this type of behavior,” an OSU spokesperson told Kezi 9. “We want our students to feel safe. And we want to encourage anyone on campus – even the public – to contact police immediately if they see anything unusual on campus.”

So here’s the rub: OSU have every right to condone or comply with whatever behavioral standards they see fit. They’re an institution with one eye on the past and one eye on the future. They have a reputation to uphold, and they probably don’t want to deal with a load of pissed-off parents whose special snowflake of a child has apparently been irreparably damaged by Kendra’s actions.

But do OSU think that sending the cops to bust a teenage girl for a crime that nobody actually saw occur at the time will endear them to other sections of the public? Can the OSU library be deemed a fully public area given the majority of those who visit are enrolled students who require special access?

Oregon state law has it thus:

A person commits the crime of public indecency if while in, or in view of, a public place the person performs:

(a) An act of sexual intercourse;
(b) An act of deviate sexual intercourse; or
(c) An act of exposing the genitals of the person with the intent of arousing the sexual desire of the person or another person.

In this instance, mutual and consensual masturbation is deemed either “deviate” or harmful to others, even if not witnessed or supplemented by anybody else. Somebody has been going over the lines with a thick grey pencil here.

By comparison, UK law goes some way to define the many variables involved in such an offence:

(a) a place to which the public are permitted to have access only on payment which is or includes payment for that display; or
(b) a shop or any part of a shop to which the public can only gain access by passing beyond an adequate warning notice.

As is always the case with the law, it’s about the semantics and small print.

Move away from the minutiae of the statute books and we’re left with a number of personable social issues that will crop up with increasing frequency in the coming years. The internet is awash with what we would call ‘amateur porn’. Days and days of footage exist just clicks away of all manner of people doing all manner of things in public; be it forests, car parks, alleyways… even the streets in broad daylight.

If you believe that some quarters are beginning to move the goalposts when it comes to authorities acting on matters of law and moral outrage, then you may well find a large number of others with similar, sympathetic views. Kendra exposed herself on camera and enjoyed it. The video was uploaded possibly without her permission, but it’s obvious that she sees both a great business and pleasure opportunity on the horizon. If you like to play around and everyone’s talking about you, why not make a buck or two from it? Transactions are the very backbone of the biz after all.

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