Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jason goes to SFFILM--Day 2

Just one film last Thursday. One small drawback for me personally to the festival moving to early April is that this is the beginning of the fiscal quarter, and in my new position at work beginning of the quarter is busy, busy time (also, since it's my new position, I'm dealing with a learning curve) so I do have to be professional, get my real work done, before I can have my reel fun.

Anyway, the silver lining is that when I didn't get up to the city in time for any ~6:00 show, I had plenty of time to hang out in the lounge, invest a few more IAMs, and drink several beers, courtesy of the local Fort Point Beer Company. Lots of fun.

Then it was over to the Roxie for NOBODY SPEAK: THE TRIALS OF A FREE PRESS. This documentary tackles the Gawker/Hulk Hogan sex tape trial, from the point of view of how it attacked the principles of a free press. Heck, it literally destroyed Gawker, they are no more because of this lawsuit. And while I wasn't a fan of Gawker, I can easily see how it has a chilling effect on journalism. Not because sex tapes are (usually) important news stories, but because of how a billionaire can destroy a news outlet just because he has a grudge against them. Oh yeah, this wasn't really about Hulk Hogan, it was about Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal who secretly funded the lawsuit (until good journalism uncovered it!) And okay, if you're not a fan of Gawker and take Thiel at his word that he has no intentions of going after other media companies, what of the precedent it sets that billionaires can destroy news companies for personal vendettas? How about Sheldon Adelson buying up the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the paper of record in Nevada? Or how about Donald Trump going after...everyone in the news media?

But with all that, what I found most fascinating was the subtle legal machinations at work in the Hulk Hogan sex tape trial (I hope I only felt that because I was already on the pro-free press side of the big issue.) In one move, the plaintiffs dropped any claim that Terry Bollea suffered emotional distress. That's because that would fall under the terms of Gawker's insurance policy, and so if they lost their insurance would have to cover the costs. Instead, they made Gawker (and the owner and editors) personally liable for everything. Because it wasn't about maximizing the award, it was about destroying the company. The other interesting point is how much hinged on the notion that Hulk Hogan and Terry Bollea are separate persons. They inhabit the same body and have the same voice, but Hulk Hogan is a character created by Terry Bollea and that character is a public person--who therefore gives up some of his right to privacy. For example, if you go on the Howard Stern show and brag about your sex life and the size of your penis, then a sex tape of you actually is newsworthy. But Terry Bollea, on the other hand, is a private person, and is afforded greater privacy rights, so details of his sex life are not newsworthy. I'm no lawyer, but I believe the technical term for that is...bullshit!

Running Time: 93 minutes
My Total Minutes: 425,230

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