Sick Subculture

In case you missed it, there’s a trial underway in Florida in which Terry G. Bollea — better known to the world by his stage name of Hulk Hogan — is suing Gawker.com for posting a grainy, secretly recorded video on its website that purportedly shows the retired wrestler having sex with a friend’s wife.

ap_651364014819_-_h_2016Normally I wouldn’t care about a tawdry legal clash between a fringe celebrity who claims invasion of privacy and a website like Gawker.com, but yesterday I happened to read a news story about one piece of testimony in the case that stopped me in my tracks.  The testimony came when a former Gawker editor-in-chief, Albert J. Daulerio, was being questioned about what he considered newsworthy and where he drew the line when it came to posting sex videos of celebrities.

“Can you imagine a situation where a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy?” the lawyer asked.

“If they were a child,” Daulerio answered.

“Under what age?” the lawyer asked.

“Four,” Daulerio responded.

Gawker later said that Daulerio was being “flippant” because, you know, people are always flippant when they are being questioned by a lawyer in a legal proceeding.

Have we really come to this point?  I can’t imagine why any adult would record a sex tape, much less why anyone would want to watch it — but to suggest, even in a “flippant” way, that sex tapes of children would be newsworthy and should be posted on the internet is, in a word, sick.  Any website that would articulate such an editorial policy isn’t really a “news” website at all, but just a mechanism for feeding the voyeuristic interests of a seamy underside of American culture.

There are important legal issues to  be explored at the intersection of the internet, the First Amendment, and the privacy rights of celebrities large and small.  No doubt the Hulk Hogan lawsuit against Gawker will help to develop the law in that area, but it’s also obviously exposing something equally important about the internet — something that is small and sick and sad about our society.  Have we touched bottom yet?

Thankful For The Destruction Of the John Edwards Sex Tape

I wasn’t aware that there was a John Edwards sex tape, or that there was a lawsuit about it.  I’m just profoundly grateful that the lawsuit ended with a settlement that means the sex tape will be destroyed.

I don’t know why people make sex tapes — it seems narcissistic, sleazy, and extremely weird, all at the same time. Given that, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that John Edwards was involved in making one.  He seems to have all of the embarrassing qualities that you would normally find in a sex tape participant and producer.

Do the people who make sex tapes actually watch them?  That seems even more bizarre to me — but in any case I’m glad not one moment of national dialogue will be devoted to people talking about watching the John Edwards sex tape.  We don’t need it.

In fact, we would all be better off if John Edwards’ name were never mentioned again — except as part of a cautionary tale about how the mighty have fallen and are brought low by their wretched excesses.