Driver's EDitorial #10: Internet Regulations and Hollywood
by: Brad Sturdivant
Our Driver’s EDitorial is a weekly column designed to express our opinion on something going on in Hollywood today. Sometimes we whine and complain about something we wish was different, other times we heap praise on the system for getting it right.
I realize I’m a little late on this, but a while ago, Good Morning America reported that model Liskula Cohen won a court battle against a blogger who was making disparaging remarks against her. Google was forced to give up the blogger’s name and now Ms. Cohen is going to take out a defamation suit against the blogger because her words “hurt her career” among other things. Now, I would hope that we in the movie news community would never get to the point where we’re calling people “skank, ho, or slut”, but if we’re being honest with each other, we’ve all taken swipes at actors/directors/studio executives. So how long until someone like Uwe Boll or Dane Cook takes a lawsuit against a movie news site? If a former model can win the argument that a blogger hurt her career, isn’t it fair to say Uwe Boll can make the association that the negativity shouted about him on the internet is hurting his career?
For the record, this is just one of the many pictures I found that would lead someone to think Liskula is a “skank”.
Of course, you and I know that the only thing hurting Uwe Boll’s career is his lack of talent (zing!), but most of the people making up the court of law won’t accept that as an excuse to insult the man. One of the problems is that you can’t “prove” a subjective, yet derogatory term like “whore” or “skank”. We don’t know what Ms. Cohen does with her spare time, but the courts don’t seem to care. What if she actually is a whore (I’m not saying she is, please don’t sue)? Does that even matter? Was there any type of investigation into her nightlife, or does the court even care? If Dane Cook starts suing everyone that says he’s an overrated actor and has never said anything funny, how does anyone prove otherwise, other than watching all his movies?
A lot of us are going to be in trouble if Dane ever decides to sue everyone that trashes him on the internet.
But the scariest thing about the court ruling is that the Thunderdome, “no rules” days of the internet may have an end in sight. Most people my age will tell you that they will not live to see the day when the internet has laws or rules. It’s a free for all. You can say anything you want, any time you want, about anyone you want. That’s good and bad, but it’s freedom to the nth degree. Forcing the revelation of an anonymous blogger’s name is bad news for everyone involved and if other judges site this as precedent, we’re going to see a lot more of this. And yes, it’s cowardly for bloggers to not reveal their name, but that’s the world we live in. Their cowardice is something they have to live with.
The internet has given people a voice that otherwise wouldn’t have one, and that means some people will use it to insult others. Yes, they’re trashing someone in the process, but we have the freedom to verbally express ourselves how we want. If this blogger really felt that Ms. Cohen is a ho-bag, then maybe she has a higher sense of morals than the person she’s writing about. Or maybe the blogger is just jealous that Ms. Cohen is rich and beautiful and she is not. It doesn’t really matter, because anyone that would not hire someone because an anonymous blogger trashed them is not someone I’d want to work for anyway. But as I’ve alluded to, many people in Hollywood are affected by the internet, either personally or as a studio. Rather than sue everyone that doesn’t like them, they’ve learned to work with it and use it to their advantage. I worry that Liskula’s “victory” may set a bad trend for everyone.