Published Apr 28, 2017The strangest aspect of the current zeitgeist is that everything is simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. We live in some sort of pro-wrestling hell-world where we can laugh at Hulk Hogan discussing his own penis-length in court while facing the bone-chilling truth that the same courtroom conversation is helping to put an end to democracy.
Brian Knappenberger's new documentary Nobody Speak (which was purchased by Netflix the day before its Sundance premiere) attempts to make sense of the press-hating world we live in, placing much of the blame for the downfall of Gawker in the hands of Hulk Hogan and evil libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel.
For those who may have missed it, Gawker published a brief snippet of the Hulkster's sex tape in 2012. The film depicted Hogan having sex with Heather Clem, the wife of Hulk's close friend and radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge (yes, that's the name of a real person whose actions have now threatened the future of the Western world). It was soon revealed that Hogan's long, expensive legal case was being funded by Silicon Valley villain Peter Thiel, who had a vendetta against Gawker due to their decade of snark.
Those hoping for a detailed debate about the morality of publishing an all-American wrestler's sex tape will have to look elsewhere, because Nobody Speak focuses on a much graver issue. Whether or not it's tasteless to publish Hulk's bedroom body slam is a moot point; that a pissed-off billionaire could shut down an independent hub of journalism because it hurt his feelings sets a drastically more dangerous precedent.
To hammer home his argument, Knappenberger looks at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper that was purchased (and subsequently censored) by notorious casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in late 2015. Though his purchase was initially kept secret, the paper's own journalists expose the truth in an important, Spotlight-like segment. It's a riveting section which emphasizes a point that's easy to forget — real journalists are crucial to a functioning democracy.
Nobody Speak was clearly re-edited at the last minute, as the film's premiere featured segments from President Trump's inauguration (which happened just days before). The day of its first-ever screening, Trump had issued a media blackout and press ban for employees of the Environmental Protection Agency. In other words, petty billionaire bitch-boys silencing their critics remains a prevalent problem, making Nobody Speak a sadly vital work. (Netflix)