By John Christian Hopkins
A few weeks ago a jury awarded ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews $55 million in a case involving her being secretly filmed nude in her hotel room.
And now Hulkamania is running wild!
On March 18, a jury awarded former wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan $115 million in a leaked sex tape. Then, on March 21, that same jury added another $25 million for punitive damages. That’s a total of $140 million for Hogan – whose real name is Terry Bollea.
Hulk smash the courtroom!
This has gotten me to thinking. For one thing, it shows how sexist this country is. I mean, in what world is a naked, balding Hulk Hogan worth nearly three times as much as a cute, blond Erin Andrews in the buff ?
Sure, The Hulkster was one of my favorite wrestlers, but I never once thought about wanting to see him doing the wild thing. Now, maybe, I’d watch The Rock laying the smack down …
If courts are going to start awarding money for every titillating image, then we need to come up reasonable guidelines to prevent such disparity in deciding damages. Here are some handy guidelines for the damage awards in sex scandal suits:
“You’ve got to be Kidding Me!” This category would be reserved for people like Mitch McConnell or Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Instead of paying penalties, anyone caught peeking at nude images of people in this category should have to use their money for therapy.
“Go ahead, Make my Day.” This is where you’d put someone like Erin Andrews. As an avid ESPN watcher, I had no idea who she was before this sex scandal. Now, of course, she’s a major part of broadcasts and has been featured in magazines, etc. Sure, her rights were violated but it’s a stretch to say it hurt her career. Think of Paris Hilton. She turned her “accidental” sex tape into a multi-million-dollar career move.
People at this level should be able to sue for no more than $5 million.
“I clicked on it by accident!” This might include images of Pee Wee Herman in a Florida adult theater, for example. Of course, the damage could be real, but defendants in this category came to it by accident – for example, you might have visited an X-rated website and meant to search for “Catholic cool girls…” Hey, it could happen. People in this tier should be able to sue for up to $10 million.
“The Honus Wagner.” This group is named in honor of turn-of-the-century baseball legend Honus Wagner. Nearly forgotten today, Honus was one of the first five men elected to the Hall of Fame and for a century was considered the greatest shortstop of all time.
But what makes this category so rare is the 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card. It’s the most valuable baseball card there is, with only a handful known to exist.
People entitled to sue in this category would include someone like Zsa Zsa Gabor, a forgotten Hollywood legend. This level would pay out up to $50 million, mostly for old times’ sake.
“Zoinks!” This tier would cover those situations that are just so wacky that the average person couldn’t resist looking. It could cover everything from Luke Skywalker hooking up with a Wookie to Scooby Doo doing Tony the Tiger. You may be ashamed later, but you know you would look.Winning lawsuits at this level would be entitled to up to $75 million.
“YOWZA!” This is the top tier, reserved for the elite of perverted viewing – like a Brad and Angelina romp. They would be entitled to the maximum $100 million penalty – and a hearty thank you from the viewing public!
Oh and what about Kim Kardashian? Get real! Naked pictures of Kim are a dime a dozen.
Anybody got a dime?
John Christian Hopkins, an award-winning novelist and humor columnist, is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe. See his writings at http://authorjohnchopkins.blogspot.com.