Easy on the douchebag: Sean Parker defended

by Toby Manhire / 04 July, 2013
The Napster founder was pilloried for his wedding, and his essay in response to critics. But some say he's got a point.
Sean Parker's hobbity wedding

Sean Parker faced a blitz of opprobrium over his $4.5m Tokien-themed forest wedding – both for its environmental damage and sheer gaudiness.

And he got a fresh gust of the stuff after responding to those criticisms in the form of a 9,500-word online essay.

The headline on Gawker’s Silicon Valley focused blog ValleyWag was typical: “Sean Parker: Still an asshole 10,000 words later”.

But Parker – you know the one: Napster founder, early Facebook investor, played by Justin Timberlake in The Social Network – had a point, counters Hamish McKenzie at the US tech site Pando Daily.

You’ll never shut up the “’Sean Parker is a douchebag and shall not be forgiven’ crowd”, but Parker’s lengthy riposte is “actually riddled with logic”.

Parker is particularly on the money, says McKenzie – a New Zealander and sometime Listener contributor – in his media analysis.

Only one reporter approached Parker for a response, for example, and he was right to complaint that, “rather than basing their reporting on primary source material, the online tabloid press just piled onto the story, sourcing each other, and churning out increasingly sensational and exaggerated headlines as fast as they could type them.”

Parker bemoans “the repackaging of content into the digital drivel known as 'click-bait', the nearly automatic rehashing and regurgitating of nonsense news”, but creditably acknowledges that he “helped instigate” some of “the deeper structural changes the media has undergone” from which that sprung.

McKenzie is good enough to acknowledge that he, too, is at times part of the great regurgitation machine, including in the post he’s currently writing, in which he quotes Parker at length.

The irony is that this very post is a shining example of the “aggregation+spin” model of the worst offenders in the blogosphere.

And here I am aggregating with only the slightest spin McKenzie’s aggregagation and spin. Meta-headache.

I’ll go one further and quote Hamish’s persuasive conclusion in lieu of knocking out one of my own:

If we’re being honest with ourselves, we in the media business have to look at Parker’s essay and concede that he has a point. We have to be able to separate our personal feelings about the guy from the substance of what he is saying. If we read his words and still only see “douchebag,” we might just be beyond help.

For more on the rapidly self-eating arguments about Parker, his wedding, and journalists' responses, see Andrew Leonard for Salon: "Why 'real journalists' hate Sean Parker's wedding".
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