Two things you never want to see get made are laws and sausages. Yet we consent to someone doing our dirty work for these things because – even though we may have different definitions of this – everyone loves a version of civil justice or some tasty, tasty pizza, even in their cheapest possible versions. Maybe you wanna spend an afternoon sucking down Papa John’s during a Judge Judy marathon. Go for it! But at least have the decency to peek behind the curtain and see who’s pulling what in order to satisfy you.
For example, last week the reactionary reality-TV version of
pornography called Girls Gone Wild declared bankruptcy after running for 15
years, and frankly, that’s surprising.
Not surprising that they went bankrupt, mind you, because who the hell
pays for porn anymore? People quit
buying newspapers around 2008 thanks to the internet. And now the preponderance of internet
subscribers have speeds fast enough to make full use of free resources like
RedTube, XTube, ExtremeTube, YouPorn,
PornHub, PornMD, SpankWire and Peeperz, just to name a few. Yet Ironically, the existence of these
entities seems to have nothing to do with the reason GGW founder Joe Francis took
the company into Chapter 11.
Rather; the hand trying to flush this turd comes in the form
of lawsuit after lawsuit, the biggest ones coming from Steve Wynn, a multi-billionaire
Las Vegas hotel and casino owner. There’s
been some back and forth as to allegations of unpaid multi-million dollar
gambling debts, but the real victories have come in the form of slander suits
Wynn filed against Francis for talking about angry emails supposedly sent by
Francis claims to fear for his life when he was emailed a
death threat written "In all caps, and then exclamation points – like a
crazy person's e-mail”. He then tried to
give credence to this claim by invoking the name of Quincy Jones as a witness
to the message.
First of all Mr. Francis, you seem to have no concept of
what it’s like to argue on the internet.
If someone threatens, as you claim, to hit you in the back of the head
with a shovel and have you buried in the middle of the desert, caps lock and
exclamation points are not the dividing line between crazy and rational.
Second; there’s already
a generation of people who know to call bullshit when you say something like,
“No really, don’t take my word for it, Quincy Jones saw it, he’ll vouch for me.” It’s an email. All you had to do was print the email.
Finally; heads up, jackass.
You’ve been raking in millions of dollars exploiting the knee-jerk,
drunken reactions of people’s sisters, nieces, and daughters since 1997. If you’re trying to give the impression that
this is your first death threat, you’re as ignorant as you are evil.
Now – why evil?
Aren’t the people in these videos consenting adults, whether explicit or
implied? Don’t they know what they’re
getting into, and isn’t it their fault for making a bad decision on the spot?
Consider this; one woman, Tamara Favazza, with her full
knowledge and consent was dancing in front of a Girls Gone Wild camera
crew. While being filmed, a member of
the crew lifted up Tamara’s shirt while Tamara could be seen mouthing the word
“No.” The video was published and sold
anyway. She sued the company and was
awarded $5.8M but only after the judge gave her a re-trial after the first jury
sided against her in spite of what the judge called a “preponderance of
Now consider this – in 2000, while on Spring Break, one
particular woman bared her breasts on camera for two men who offered her beads
to do so. Then those men sold that
footage to GGW. GGW not only used the
footage in their video, but put her face on promotional materials. She was recognized not only by fellow
students, but her teachers and coaches. On
the one hand, yes she made a dumb mistake she later regretted. On the other hand, dumb mistakes later
regretted are regularly made by
14-year-old middle schoolers.
That’s right – the woman in this example is named Lindsey Bullard. On her Spring Break trip in 2000 she was
14-years-old, and not yet in high school.
She’s been trying to sue the company since 2004 claiming she never gave
her consent for its commercial use.
Lawyers on the other side of the case are arguing no wrongdoing, she did give her consent at the time, and because
it was in a public area, they didn’t violate her privacy. All they did was purchase a video somebody
The case is being argued in the Georgia State Supreme Court because
federal law proved too vague for a clear verdict.
Girls Gone Wild has declared bankruptcy now, but not becausethey’re out of cash. A statement from
GGW equates their company to American Airlines and General Motors, filing
Chapter 11 to seek reorganization to “re-structure its frivolous and burdensome
With knowledge and forethought they’re making profits off
the ill-considered actions of drunk people at parties. Sometimes they’re violating those people for
the purpose. Sometimes they’re purchasing
and re-selling child pornography. They
only face consequences when they get caught, and only then when they lose the
argument, which they can only do when the law is clear and specific enough to
tell them how they’ve done wrong.
Perhaps Steve Wynn will use the nearly $50M awarded him in
judgments – and maybe some of his own extra billions – to fund a lobby that
creates a law that doesn’t make it so easy for Joe Francis to reap rewards from
the exploitive shame of others. Certainly
there are large numbers of mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, brothers and
sisters and cousins and friends and allies who wouldn’t mind watching that
particular law get made.
You’re on your own with the sausages.