I thought I'd learned everything I needed know about morality from Young Adult films in the 1990s.
Life was simple back then. There was always a clear hero and an obvious villain. Sure, every once in a while there'd be an oddly athletic Golden Retriever or angels would descend from heaven to change the course of sports history for the sake of an orphan boy's wish. But no matter what antics ensued, you always knew who to root for.
For example, if a movie featured a ragtag group of kids playing a baseball game against the richest teens in town, then any decent human being knew to root for the team filled with misfits and oddballs. They may not have matching uniforms or proper training, but they've got heart. And in 90s movies about little league or junior hockey or youth football, heart was all that mattered.
Unfortunately, it's a lot harder to tell the Good Guys from the Bad Guys in real life. Sometimes, it even seems like there are no Good Guys at all. Don't get me wrong; the entitled, spoiled rich kids are still jerks. But who do we root for if it turns out that the ragtag team of misfits make money by publicly outing gay businessmen and non-consensually releasing celebrity porn?
Who do we champion when it turns out that everyone involved is a Bad Guy?
In 2012, Gawker.com leaked excerpts of Hulk Hogan's sex tape, for which Hogan filed a lawsuit. In March of this year, a jury delivered a verdict in The Hulkster's favor, awarding $140 million in damages to the wrestler. The lawsuit has since forced Gawker out of business, and that's causing a whole mess of web-based hullabaloo.
The destruction of Gawker.com should be something most folks are pretty thrilled about. After all, anyone who was legitimately upset that Jennifer Lawrence had her naked photos leaked online or that Leslie Jones had her nude images hacked and plastered on her personal website should recognize Gawker's decision to post Hogan's sex tape as a vile and malicious breach of privacy. And anyone who pretended to be mad about the band YACHT releasing a fake sex tape a few months ago also has to pretend to be mad about Hollywood Hogan's plight, otherwise you don't get to share Reductress articles on your Facebook wall anymore.
Hulk Hogan may be a racist, but even bigots deserve the god given right to make homemade sex-tapes without being publically shamed.
Initially, this seems like a clear-cut case of Bad Guy versus Good Guy. Gawker fucked up, and now they have to pay for it. But what complicates the issue is that Terry Boulder's lawsuit was financially backed by billionaire entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who used the suit as a means of seeking retribution against Gawker for what he perceived as a personal slight that took place nine years ago. And waiting nine years to enact a fiscal revenge sounds like the work of a serious scoundrel. Plus, Peter Thiel is 1.) white 2.) male and 3.) a billionaire – and those are the three key ingredients in a Bad Guy starter kit. He also publicly supports Donald Trump and spoke at the Republican National Convention, which is something only fledgling supervillains get to do.
But, once again, the plot thickens: Peter Thiel is a gay immigrant, and he claims that Gawker outed him without his consent in a 2007 piece penned by Owen Thomas, the then managing editor of Valleywag, Gawker's gossip and news blog about Silicon Valley.
Some have claimed that this is a lie and that Gawker did not out Peter Thiel, but I dunno. The piece was called Peter Thiel is Totally Gay, People. And amidst accusations of having outed a man, that title seems a lot like a smoking gun.
Plus, countless liberals have assured me that we should never question the validity of someone who claims to have been victimized or outed, and so I'm pretty sure rhetoric states that we have to take Peter Thiel's word at face value or else risk being terrible allies.
So, to recap: A billionaire manipulated the law to destroy a "news" organization that immorally used its influence to out said billionaire and ruin a racist's career. Because some stories don't have a hero, and life is a Russian nesting doll full of villains.
Ultimately, I don't know how to feel about all this because the rules of '90s movie morality don't apply to this scenario. This isn't as clear-cut as Little Giants. This is more like Suicide Squad, where a bunch of villains fight another villain and it's hard to care who wins because everyone deserves to lose.
It's like if Kim Kardashian found a way to bankrupt Fox News. On the one hand, Fox News has done a lot of terrible shit. On the other hand (and to a much lesser degree), so has Kim Kardashian. But they both have the right to do all that terrible shit. And Kim K. is a wealthy woman of color, so I think I'm pretty sure I have to take her side no matter what. But also, the First Amendment defends Fox News. Because it's a statistical fact that the First Amendment is 50% in support of progressive ideology, but then the other 50% is used to defend neo-Nazis, the Klux Klan, and Fox News.
At the end of the day, I'm not sure who's been more victimized. Is it the gossip journalists at Gawker who definitely leaked someone's pornography without their consent, or the outed gay billionaire who may have usurped the First Amendment?
I guess it's a draw.
Either way, what's scary is the possibility that this might become a trend. Wealthy citizens may now be able to use their money to affect and intimidate news outlets. Because, theoretically, this decision could lead to a loss of constitutional rights and allow the rich control the mediahahahahahahahaha.
I'm so sorry. I totally forgot that's already how it is.