Creep Films Women Without Their Consent, Calls It 'Art'

Illustration for article titled Creep Films Women Without Their Consent, Calls It 'Art'

Having a tiny camera at your fingertips at all times is pretty amazing—how did we ever make cat videos before they came along? But then you stop to think about what happens when you're on the other end of the lens and you don't know it, because you think someone is doing something harmless like sending a text. One man in New York has been been caught bringing the nightmare of every subway rider to life by secretly taping women on the trains and posting the videos online for everyone to see.


There are no doubt countless of other people doing this too, but the creep who's come forward and admitted to doing it is a man who calls himself John Zippy. He's gotten really devious and uses a camera hidden inside a Starbucks cup to take video and still shots of women he sees on the train. Sometimes it's their legs, sometimes they're sleeping—whatever catches his eye. Ugh. Naturally, he posted all of his finds on a YouTube channel called "New York Subway Girls" and on a blog with the same name. He's posted 35 videos since late February and on his blog he put up photos of 102 women. So now we can all get a load of you during your unguarded, spaced out commuting moments.

While this kind of behavior certainly feels horrible and is a clear invasion of privacy, at the moment there's nothing the police can do to stop it. It's not a crime to roll tape in a public place—nor should it be or just think how many flash mob proposals we'd miss out on. (Actually, nevermind, let's destroy all cameras forever!) He could get busted for "capturing intimate images without a subject's consent," which could buy him four camera-less years in jail. But a court would have to deem what constituted "intimate," which could be problematic since a lot of the women are just sitting there. Basically, though, it's tough to pin anything on him since he's never been caught in the act. That's something he's, sadly, bragged about by saying the women "usually don't know what to do because they aren't sure if they are just being paranoid." How kind of him to be so skin-crawlingly respectful of his subjects.

Thank goodness, after the news got onto him, YouTube suspended Zippy's account, and his blog seems to have been taken down as well. Starbucks has probably also sent a stealth team of brand defense marshalls out to destroy his camera too, since the last thing they need is for women to become skeptical of their cups. But obviously this is like an incredibly depressing game of whack-a-mole: you shut one down and three more pop up in its place.

So, yeah, looks like we're going to have to train ourselves to spot tiny cameras in unusual places. And we're going to have to never fall asleep on public transportation. And we should all wear Snuggies in public at all times to protect ourselves. Because really it's all our fault—when it is NOT our fault?—for being so sexy and inspiring Zippy to create his "art."

Yes, you read that right. The New York Post confronted Zippy and instead of admitting that this is committing rather uninspired voyeurism and a flagrant violation of privacy, he claimed he's making art and compared himself to Salvador Dali. Hmm, that's a new one. If only the titles of his "works" could be as clever as his defense. Instead, he's opted for some pretty artless names like "Sexy Asian Girls" and "Glamor Girl Short Skirt Bare Legs"—a little film in which, according to the Post, he "aims his device up a pretty blonde's skirt as she flips through a magazine." You know, just like all of the great artists of our time have done…

Like any meaningful creative bullshit endeavor, it requires over-explanation to understand. Don't worry, Zippy is happy to oblige, saying,

I totally understand that many people consider it sorta creepy. It is. I have over the years had conversations with people . . . about how they saw the "most beautiful," "the hottest," "most amazing," "the finest" woman on the Subway followed by a vivid description worthy of a sonnet. I decided to try and capture this common occurrence in one place where people could share and comment in an open and nonjudgmental manner.


Ahh, yes, YouTube comments section, the very first place anyone goes to have an "open and nonjudgmental" discussion. But seriously, there is such a massive difference between using words to describe a thing of beauty in a poem and shooting a video of some unsuspecting girl sleeping on the train that it's not even funny. Of course, there's nothing wrong with taking pictures of beautiful things in general, but when those beautiful things are humans, there's a very simple way to take it from creepy to legit: Ask the girl for permission to take her photo and then use a camera that's not hidden inside a coffee cup. Voila! Problem solved. Maybe it's time to start handing out these instructions with Metrocards.

Creep with hidden camera targets young women on subway [New York Post]

Image via Hannamariah/Shutterstock.



uninspired voyeurism Yes, totally. But... a flagrant violation of privacy? Questionable, no?

Not saying it's not unethical, but legally (and in some sense, practically) speaking... the subjects are out in public, and one doesn't have an expectation of privacy when out in public, right? If the NYT snapped a picture of a street crowd at the Pride Parade and I ran up to the photographer and said "No no no! My parents are subscribers and they don't know I'm a lesbian, you can't use that photo!" I don't believe they would be obliged to honor my request. Or say I only found out about it later: I wouldn't be able to sue the Times for using my photo without permission.

Legalbels? And others who have considered this another way? Thoughts?