Seeds: The celebrity sex tape has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the age of the Internet. At this point, we all know the drill. A sex tape or nude photos of a celebrity are leaked, said celebrity then makes a statement condemning the release of their personal content, and in the following weeks we all forget about it and move onto the next scandal. In the case of Kim Kardashian, it is the foundation upon which a career is built. While in the case of Jennifer Lawrence, whose personal photos were leaked in late 2014, it has been seen as a severe offense to one’s privacy.
Core: This week the conversation about celebrity privacy has reignited as Terry Bollea, also known as WWE’s Hulk Hogan, is attempting to sue the website Gawker for releasing a sex tape of him and his best friend’s wife without his consent. The tape was filmed and sold to the press without Bollea’s knowledge by his former best friend, Bubba the Love Sponge (not joking, that’s the man’s legal name). Gawker legally justified the video’s publication, claiming that Bollea has shared details about his sex life in interviews before, making the tape “newsworthy.”
Skin: Mr. Bollea’s case has also called First Amendment Rights into question. Technically, Gawker’s release of the video is protected under the Constitution, since it is a source of “public interest.” (Although, I doubt a video of an ex-fake wrestler getting it on with Mrs. Bubba the Love Sponge was exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind when writing the Bill of Rights.) The fine line between freedom of the press and a person’s right to privacy has become the essential issue of this case.
Leaves: The result of this case could lead to a complete shift in how the privacy of public figures is approached legally. If Bollea is unsuccessful in his attempt to sue Gawker, a precedent regarding the power media outlets have with respect to the dissemination of private details about a public figure will be set. Alternatively, if Bollea is successful in his attempts to sue, a public figure’s right to privacy could be revolutionized. NEW NOTE: Hogan will receive $31 million dollars in the settlement.
Food For Thought: Do you think celebrities have the same right to privacy as the average citizen? Is Mr. Bollea justified in his attempt to sue Gawker? What do you think is the reason for the American public’s obsession with celebrity sex tapes?