Published on May 11th, 2016 | by Mike Scherf0
A Quick Thought on the YACHT Sex Tape Thing: The Complicity of Media
Honestly, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve cared way too much about the YACHT stolen sex tape scam/hoax/art project failure/gross publicity stunt since it was put in motion earlier this week.
I don’t really care to get into the details, but you can read a recap over on Gawker sub-blog Jezebel.
You see, those four marginally famous friends of YACHT went out of their way to promote this whole scam and perpetuate the lie. YACHT apparently reached out and they complied. BAD. YOU ARE ALL BAD INTERNET PEOPLE.
(As a note, I only say maybe Wareheim because he doesn’t really promote the notion of downloading the sex tape, but sort of mentions it before the whole thing blew up. It looks like he is involved, but his tweet was innocuous enough that it could be defended as he wasn’t in on it. I’m skeptical, but I don’t know… you decide.)
But let’s go back to that Jezebel piece for a second, because there was something fairly illuminating in there that people are passing over:
So, ok… someone at Gawker knew about this since the beginning of April and (rightly) did not take part like other complicit parties did. GOOD FOR THEM! YAY!
But wait! Nope, not off the hook, Gawker. Here’s the thing: if someone over there knew something like this was brewing, don’t they have the obligation and responsibility to flag this shit IMMEDIATELY when it starts going down?
I don’t blame Anna Merlan, who wrote the Jezebel piece linked above, because she didn’t know and actually she sniffed a lot of this out to find the hoax. Good for her. But why not let us know who over Gawker did know? And why didn’t they come forward posting some shit immediately when this started going down?
Let’s now take a look over at The Verge piece written on May 10 about this garbage fire:
Huh. So The Verge knew well in advance too and chose not to call this bullshit out right away when it went live earlier in the week. I see a pattern.
And by the way, Claire Evans, one of the two Garbage People in YACHT, has written for both io9 (Gawker tech/future/science blog) and Motherboard (Vice tech/future/science blog). Gawker and Vice were also in on the ground floor covering this as a legit news story (although, Dan Ozzi at Vice music blog, Noisey, was in early on the “this might be a hoax” thing).
Seems cozy. REALLY MAKES YOU THINK.
Bottom line, this whole situation makes me question a few things:
- What other sites received friendly emails asking to be complicit in this mess? Merlan should be applauded for saying people at Gawker knew. I wish she would say who, but good for her on being forthcoming (eventually). Apparently The Verge knew too and good on them for revealing it (eventually). But is it necessarily wrong for me to question if people at other major sites knew in advance? You’re telling me the band just reached out to a few randos at Gawker and the Entertainment Editor at The Verge? Come on.
- How much of the initial reporting of this is because of coziness between band and media? YACHT’s PR team has denied any involvement, but in doing music writing for a minute it’s pretty clear – this whole game is all relationship based. If you give people coverage and press, people help you out. Maybe these sites didn’t comply fully with the request, but they did the band a favor by not blowing up their spot when it went down. That’s not cool journalistically.
- You know, maybe stop having people you cover write for your sites?! Sure, Motherboard and io9 are a couple degrees removed from the principle sites that would be covering YACHT, but still seems a bit weird. You can disclaim that stuff (as far as I can tell through the mess of stories, Vice did in the first story, Gawker/Jezebel did not), but when it goes bad like this, having those relationships really looks shady and sketchy.
Ultimately, from where I sit (and you know, who am I? I write for some tiny music blog), this is gross on all sides. From the start, YACHT wanted to prove some point about how craven the internet and press can be about sex tape/celebrity culture, but ended up proving another point all together: