What it really looks like to accidentally show your dick on Zoom

A simple explainer.

Welcome to Embedded, your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, published Monday through Friday by Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci. “Get Embedded” on Twitter and Instagram. 🧩

As a reminder, Nick is on vacation, so I’m posting all the half-baked, ill-advised story ideas that have been rattling around in my brain until he’s back —Kate

“Guy accidentally shows dick on Zoom” is a sketch I would have written in March 2020. It’s a sketch I would have likely later scrapped, fearing it veered too far into the “male tears mug” genre of feminist comedy that’s become pretty lazy and out of step with reality. But it turns out, in the next year of the pandemic, a guy would, in fact, show his dick on Zoom—more than one guy, actually!

There was Jeffrey Toobin, who was glimpsed masturbating on a video call between members of the New Yorker and WNYC radio in October 2020. Then, earlier this year, it came out that Believer editor Joshua Wolf Shenk exposed his genitals while participating in a Zoom call from the bathtub. Most recently, AMC CEO Adam Aron appeared on Trey’s Trades Youtube channel for an interview, during which the camera falls over to briefly reveal that Aron is seemingly pantsless.  

While Aron hasn’t addressed the gaff (for which, thankfully, his dick was not present), both Toobin and Shenk chalked up their Zoom dick incidents to a “mistake” or “lapse in judgement,” or in the view of some extremely high paid media people, an accident that could happen to anyone. 

The discourse around these instances remains the most maddening thing I’ve ever had to sit through. People on Twitter, people in my real life, expressed sympathy for the men, seemingly putting “showing your dick” in the “children wandering into frame” or “loud honking outside” genre of Zoom annoyances that can’t be prevented. But this is what makes me feel crazy: This is the one thing that can very much be prevented! Wear clothes!

If you’re not fully clothed on Zoom, then people seeing you unclothed is not an accident. That’s a risk you calculated and accepted when you hit “join call.” This is what accidentally showing your dick on Zoom would look like:

  • You are fully clothed on a video call and a gust of wind tears through your open window, ripping off your pants and sending books careening off shelves. 

  • You are fully clothed on a video call and your pants catch fire. 

  • You are fully clothed on a video call but also pledging a fraternity, and one of your future brothers pantses you as part of an introductory ritual they legally can’t refer to as “hazing.” 

  • You are fully clothed on a video call and pacing while giving a speech. But! Unbeknownst to you, a thread at the bottom of your pants has caught on a door hinge, unraveling the garment more and more with every step until your pants are nothing but a pile of loose thread and buttons on the floor.

  • You are fully clothed on a video call but the Road Runner is outside with a slide whistle that, when blown, causes your pants to drop in time with the sound. Meep meep!