Sorry, guys, but the “Oh no, baby, I only signed up for Ashley Madison to research my hit hacker TV show” excuse has been taken.
Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail acknowledged that his name was among those listed when hackers released the website’s clients back in August:
Esmail signed up for a host of digital romance outlets, including Eharmony.com, as part of research for the series, he confessed at a Paley Center for Media event honoring his USA drama. When hackers broke into the service in September, “of course, my name is in the thing,” he acknowledged. The drama’s central protagonist, Elliot Alderson, hacks into the digital lives of people to connect with them, rather than trying to start a more typical human relationship.
#2.) There’s a small part of me that wonders how many people actually did sign up for Ashley Madison as “research.” Of course not research into the lines between public and private on the internet as preparation for helming one of the hit shows of the summer. More like research into “what gives me a boner.” But research nonetheless.
And that research shouldn’t count as cheating.
There were of course shitty, hypocritical garbage people who cheated through Ashley Madison, and that should count as cheating. But people who made no concentrated effort to meet anyone in real life let alone actually have sex with them? I have to imagine that would fall more under the advanced porn viewing. And given that it now turns out most of Ashley Madison was guys saying dirty things to each other, I have a hard time qualifying that as the same category as extended affairs that produce children.
Not to say that the men who had Ashley Madison accounts did nothing wrong. In addition to the idiocy of paying for anything sexually related on the internet (seriously free sex stuff is mostly what the internet is for), it was a breach of trust. It exposed the fact that these men were looking for a sexual outlet that wasn’t their primary partner. Maybe their partners considered it a harmless bit of make believe. Maybe they actively encouraged their partners to use the internet as an outlet because it seems like a safer way to expend/ increase their partner’s sexual energy. Maybe they thought it was total bullshit, and “is that why you spent all those hours on the internet? When you told me you couldn’t help with the kids because you were ‘working’?!” The point is, the flaws that the Ashley Madison leak exposed weren’t necessarily sexual indiscretions as much as deeper personality shortcomings.
Take Anthony Weiner’s Twitter debacle for instance. Huma Abedin shouldn’t divorce her husband because he sent sexually explicit messages to women he had no interest in meeting in real life. She should divorce him because he’s a megalomaniac whose unquenchable need for love and validation is so wildly out of control that he can’t not fuck up his life.
And while those traits are detrimental to his success in life, undermine the projects and policies he spent many years, often successfully, championing, and are devastating to the relationships that he has with intimate partners, that only makes him an asshole. Being an asshole isn’t the same as being a cheater.