TV Review: “The Most Hated Man on the Internet” – Fate of the Foul Slime Online
By Matt Hanson
The Internet’s Most Hated Man tells a legitimate story in which the good guys win, but there’s no attempt to answer one of the most important and uncomfortable social questions the show raises.
Not so long ago, a young woman in California decided to take a topless photo of herself. She then emailed it to her own private email account. Reasonably enough, she assumed that would be it. She had no idea what was going to happen. Unbeknownst to her, her privately taken photo was made available to the public on a now-defunct website called isanyoneup.com, which specializes in “revenge porn,” a self-explanatory term. Her story of abuse, and those like her, is told in this three-part, but sadly superficial, new Netflix series. The most hated man on the internet.
The rancid setup of the website: People sent photos of their exes or any private photography they could get their hands on. isanyoneup.com posted them to tickle viewers (and there were a lot of them). Sneaky and malicious comments were encouraged. The site was run by a young drug addicted man whose name it is better not to repeat because why give him more notoriety. Also, even though he spent time in prison, he is currently walking (or would it be slipping) among us.
Let’s stick to his initials and say that the most hated eponymous man was a Horny Moster, a Hungry Manipulator, who was horribly untruthful. The kid ran his site like his own private online attack club and made big bucks taking obvious pleasure in trashing strangers while engaging his fans in the sadistic hazing.
Luckily, the young woman in question had a fiercely protective mother and a steel-backed lawyer father to come to her aid. Not everyone whose private photos have been hacked, stolen, or shared without permission has had such strong advocates. We get the story of the sick website and the creep that ran it, but the series aptly focuses on the admirable tenacity of the woman’s mother, who indomitablely defended her own daughter’s privacy while deciding entirely by itself to defend the alarmingly high number. victims of the site. The series ends up being a tribute to filial devotion: an admiring look at how far a parent will go to protect and defend their child. It adds something of a feel-good angle to the story arc, a surprisingly heartwarming approach given the thorny subject matter.
Of course, the story of a young woman who agreed to do painful things live on camera is heartbreaking to hear. Ironically, she seems to regret the end of her quarter of an hour of fame, even if it consisted of humiliating herself in public. In a culture that worships fame, visibility is paramount. The most hated man on the internet touches on the murky moral implications of the situation, he doesn’t have the nerve to explore too deeply, and that’s a waste.
It’s not just that there was a website where people were posting their personal information without their consent. It’s bad enough. We all know that we take a risk when we do anything online. there are a myriad of hackers and shady websites across the boundless sight of the internet. It’s not uncommon to get bitten by malware while innocently browsing the World Wide Web. It’s happened to everyone.
What’s far more disturbing is how long Hateful Meathead got away with it, and how many people savored his relentless meanness, exploitation, and sordidness. Yes, the site offered illicit kicking enhanced by the anonymity of cyberspace. Lots of sites do it anyway. Shocking isn’t necessarily the right word, but you can’t help but wonder why the site has become so popular. Why did so many people love a person everyone hated so much? Bullies and creeps will still be there; it’s nothing new and nothing special.
The crux here is that a bully gets a boost when he receives a crew that encourages his cruelty. He is given a team to put down roots and conspire with. And these groups are what made up the army commanded by the king of revenge porn, who developed a Manson-like online cult called The Family. The beleaguered mother was constantly harassed, threatened and made to fight even harder and longer than she should have to seek justice for her daughter and other victims like her. We meet an ex-Marine – with a lifelong distaste for bullying – who helped recruit the radical hacker community Anonymous to force the site to change from revenge porn to an anti-bullying website.
That’s good, but the crucial question that the movie doesn’t explore is what in our society is causing such a foul ooze online? If it is true, as some claim, that the Internet is where people go to be themselves, free from the restrictions of everyday life, then revenge porn as a phenomenon could be more than a simple matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Hacker Monster wasn’t just a kid living in his mother’s basement: he proudly DJed raves all over the country and sent videos of himself partying to his legions of fans. worshipers. The filmmakers offered to interview him for the film but he declined.
Is the success of a porn site like this, no matter how brief, just the hustle and bustle of a born charlatan? The triumph of a brutal social Darwinist mentality in a country that celebrates the winner – but is just as happy to see a foot planted firmly on the neck of the loser? Are we talking about kicking by proxy because of sexual repression? Or just bored, insecure teenagers who can’t resist a chance to pounce on other people’s vulnerabilities? The series tells a legitimate story in which the good guys win, but there’s no attempt to answer any of these larger, uncomfortable social questions. And that kind of honest conversation is what we need to fix the problem, along with tougher congressional regulations regarding the internet and its mandarins. Ways must be found to keep freaks and sleazes away from other people’s sensitive information. Otherwise, prepare for a future in which the World Wide Web is an amoral game free for all.
Matt Hanson is a contributing editor at artistic fuse whose work has also appeared in American interest, Deflector, Guardian, Millions, New Yorker, Smart set, and elsewhere. A longtime resident of Boston, he now lives in New Orleans.