An Army of David LaChappelles

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George Clooney has been burned by bloggers recently, but who knew it would turn him into a vigilante? Angered by the existence of Gawker.com's "Stalker" page, Clooney has asked his peers to unite and "render these guys useless."

Flood their Web site with bogus sightings. Get your clients to get 10 friends to text in fake sightings of any number of stars. A couple hundred conflicting sightings and this Web site is worthless. No need to try to create new laws to restrict free speech. Just make them useless.

I think any webmaster who's been hit by junk traffic or denial-of-service attacks can appreciate that wisdom.

UPDATE: On reflection, my first take was too hard on George Clooney. If fulfilled, this would actually be a positive, people-powered development—instead of taking out his anger via the usual team of lawyers, a celebrity is politely asking people to get on their Blackberries and start spamming. And remember, Hollywood was using Blackberries when they were just a whisper.

NEXT: Steaming Douglas

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  1. Is that a typo at the end, or is this an April Fool’s joke I’m not getting?

    A post about George Clooney but none about Cynthia McKinney? Where does Reason stand on her hitting a federal rentacop in response to continued harassment? I’m genuinely interested.

  2. {o,o}
    (__(|
    -“-“-
    NO WAI!

  3. I’m assuming the rest of the post was going to mention the fact that the Clooney sightings have funny pictures next to them. Oscar the Grouch and a Gibbon.

  4. I think we skipped a couple of steps.

    {o.o}
    |)___)
    -“-“-
    O RLY?

  5. “I think any webmaster who’s been hit by junk traffic or denial-of-service attacks can appreciate that wisdom.”

    Bogus analogy. Clooney isn’t talking about using force to make them unable to operate. He’s talking about beating them at their own game.

  6. I like George, but he really needs to get over himself…

  7. Ship Erect: Well, Dave did, um, analyze the McKinney situation at his own blog a couple of days ago…

  8. They would never do that because both the publicity people and the actors are dying to be stalked. We don’t have actors anymore we have media freaks. Who is George kidding? The worst thing that could ever happen to Clooney is for people to start ignoring him and he knows that.

  9. joe: It’s a perfect analogy. Clooney is suggesting that genuine messages identifying the locations of celebrities should be drowned out with fake messages, undermining the system. That’s precisely what a denial of service attack does, and it’s quite similar to what a spam attack does except that in the case of spam, undermining the system is an unintentional consequence. You can argue that what Clooney is advocating is a good idea, but it’s still basically a spamming denial of service attack.

  10. Clooney needs to “get over himself”? He’s now won his first Oscar, and was nominated twice. He’s just about the best looking and (reportedly) suavest man on earth. When he stumps, he’s generally got a sense of humor. And eighteen years on from Return of the Killer Tomatoes!, he’s paid his dues.

    What does he have to get over? This is Clooney’s planet. I will carry his water and be happy to do so.

  11. FXKLM,

    It’s the sloppy use of the term “undermining the system,” and the way it lumps together two extremely unlike things, that makes your argument bogus. A DNS attack makes a web site unable to operate. Clooney’s idea would, what, change how some people might think about the website?

    One is a violation of someone’s rights, akin to trespass, vandalism, or harrassment. A host suffering from a DNS attack is being robbed of his speech and property. Pray tell, what rights would Clooney’s idea take away from anyone, and from whom?

    A proper analogy to Clooney’s idea would be what happens sometimes when Fred Phelps comes to town: so many counter-protesters show up, and surround the event, that Phelps’ little group’s message is drowned out. You gotta problem wi’dat?

  12. Our actors should be anonymous like classical Greek actors were.

  13. What does he have to get over? This is Clooney’s planet. I will carry his water and be happy to do so.

    Are you joking or mentally ill?

  14. It’s not at all analogous to counter-protests. Counter-protestors make a competing message, but the original protest is still visible and unharmed. Maybe a better analogy would be undermining an Ebay auction you dislike by planting fake bids or flooding Wikipedia with inaccurate information. The latter is probably the best analogy. In both cases we have a decentralized system for gathering information and a person trying to undermine the reliability of the system with false information.

    The only difference I can see between the two is if you think Gawker is terrible and deserves to be undermined. You can argue that the tactic is generally sleazy, but it’s okay because Gawker is worse. You might be able to persuad me on that. But you won’t persuade me that the tactic is not sleazy and unethical in general.

  15. joe –

    A DNS attack makes a web site unable to operate. Clooney’s idea would, what, change how some people might think about the website?

    What if it wasn’t a website? What if the pizza place down the corner gave out maps to stars homes? Could Clooney et al keep calling with bogus orders?

    I mean wouldn’t it just change the way the people thought about the pizza parlor due to increased wait times for pizza delivery?

    As FXKLM said – you might convince some the tactic is useful due to what they’re trying to stop (even though the hypocrisy of celebrities not wanting to be “seen” is funny) – but you can’t seriously equate this to a counter protest.

  16. It’s interesting that the attitude of commenters here is that surveillance is okay when it’s done by a for-profit dot-com and their readers, but not okay when done by most anyone else.

    What, you sprinkle some web fairy dust on it and it becomes okay and fun and harmless?

    I expect most people would not like to find a map of their movements on an Internet site, such that your patterns could be discerned, making it easy to rob your home when you’re away.

    The Gawker stalker map might be innocuous if it only had sightings far away from the celeb’s home, or sightings at typical celebrity haunts like clubs and restaurants. But I expect a fair number will be sightings from the celeb’s residence’s immediate neighborhood in Manhattan, making the information useful for actual dangerous stalker types.

  17. “even though the hypocrisy of celebrities not wanting to be “seen” is funny”

    There’s a big difference between being seen and being tracked.

    Being tracked means people have a better chance of anticipating your wherabouts in the future.

  18. I’m a relative newbie at computers, but I understood spam attacks to be illegal. Or is this not considered spamming?

  19. In other news, the smug generated from Clooney’s Oscar acceptance speech continues to drift northward…

  20. jw,

    “I’m a relative newbie at computers, but I understood spam attacks to be illegal. Or is this not considered spamming?”
    I seriously doubt it. Blogs comments are thoroughly rife with idiots parroting talking points, often completely bereft of truth content. Far as I can see, Clooney’s big mistake is he has no plausible deniability ie his minion didn’t wear a mask and relay the message while skulking in the shad-doe, thru’a 401K or whatever that moveon.org thing is registered as. If this is spam then akmost every political blog is in big trouble.

  21. jw,

    To clarify – Spam is automated bullshit. If peolple do it their own volition, then it ain’t spam – it’s free speech.

  22. I will carry his water and be happy to do so…

    I think your head is already too far up his ass for you to carry anything at all.

  23. “Clooney’s idea would, what, change how some people might think about the website?”

    yeah, basically. which is good stuff, overall. it’s not a denial of service attack; it’s a denial of cultural cachet attack. of course, what it has to do, ultimately, is make gawker less entertaining, not less factual. i dunno if he’s going to win that one.

    gawker is going to destroy him, of course.

  24. also, isn’t this essentially the basic point of free speech as a model? people do war with words?

  25. Anything that strikes at the ridiculous celebrity obsession of our society is ok with me. I think this is actually an amusing way to deal with a nuisance website. Go George.

  26. In more local celeb-stalker news, the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Anniston duo are occasionally seen at the Wiener’s Circle hot dog stand at Clark/Wrightwood in my neighborhood, and are reportedly looking to buy a residence somewhere between Lincoln Park/Old Town/Gold Coast.

    grumble.

  27. Lots of good points on all sides here.

    FX, 6Sig, you’ve given me a lot to think about.

  28. cloney has made some bad movies and he has made some good movies…the macarthy movie probably should have mentioned stalin a bit more then it did. But i am no movie maker. He is more political then i like my movie actors but so the fuck what…it only means more political films which can’t be all bad. And at the very least some really funny southpark episodes.

    anyway what is a blueberry anyway?

    (i have the feeling i am going to regret that question)

  29. what is a blueberry anyway?

    It’s a fruit. So is a blackberry. A Blackberry ™ is a PDA that allows you to access email.

  30. I was thinking that a similar tactic should be used with the FCC. Specifically, that a group of people coordinate deluging the FCC with complaints about shows that are NOT being complained about by the PTC. So, instead of the latest skintillating episode of “Detective Debutantes” or “Nurses Playing Doctor” getting hammered by FCC fines, “Touched By An Angel” and “700 Club” will be responsible for a far larger number of complaints.

  31. Was best analyzed earlier, in the Smigel “Speed Racer” cartoon on SNL… look, it’s Eddie Murphy; vying with Marv Albert for that transsexual prostitute

  32. lol, 80s fan. The Speed Racer theme always plays in my head as “go, George Clooney, goooo-oh” since I obtained all the TV Funhouses. The only bigger earworm out of those segments is “Sadaam and Osama!” from the GI Joe parody.

  33. This is Clooney’s planet. I will carry his water and be happy to do so.

    Shouldn’t Clooney = Kyle McLaughlin or did I get this reference way off?

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