There are numerous, many alternative variations of the vampire’s story, however in its most timeworn Eurocentric telling, vampires are evil’s higher crust: stunning, blue-blooded aristocrats draped in velvet, exuding idle menace. Dracula and his cursed kin are the undead 1 p.c and act accordingly: terrorizing villages, murdering peasants, siphoning off others’ lifeblood, and turning up their aquiline noses on the slightest trace of dissent.
A whole cottage trade operates round their tales, and vampire lore doesn’t at all times confine itself to the web page. Within the 17th century, the very actual and really sadistic Countess Bathory—she of Hungarian legend and historic infamy—is alleged to have damaged the our bodies of greater than 650 village women and bathed in serf blood to retain her youth. For that, historical past remembers her with a wierd kind of fondness: as an unfathomably rich, castle-dwelling noblewoman at all times depicted as lavishly dressed and dripping in jewels. She was monstrous in an elegant kind of manner, the type that evokes gothic novels and Swedish black metal records. Vituperative inhumanity, however made modern.
Vampires’ modern-day counterparts, then again, depart a lot to be desired from an aesthetic standpoint. In contrast to the traditional Romanian moroi, Irish dearg-due, or Ghanaian sasabonsam, at this time’s vampires are parasitic new cash. Vulgar, ugly, and smug, their wrists are cluttered with hideous assertion watches, their torsos clad in energy fits or, worse, upmarket hipster threads. Some name them vulture capitalists, after the nice birds who feast on carrion. Whereas catchy, this time period doesn’t fairly match; these monsters don’t deal with the lifeless—they go after the dwelling. They run hedge funds, commerce shares, and handle non-public fairness companies, flush with generational wealth however at all times hungry for extra. As an alternative of scorching blood, these fancy fiends hunt for chilly money—and very like their non secular predecessors, care little for the way others should endure of their pursuit thereof.
They’ve plundered each trade obtainable, and, as of late, have educated their eyes on the crumbling edifice of digital media. In contrast to the countess, who secreted away the proof of her cruelty in a dungeon, this new era commits their horrors within the open.
Their newest sufferer is Deadspin—which was ostensibly a sports activities web site, however in the end extra of an offbeat tradition publication with a penchant for football-themed mockery and commemorating numerous guys. Earlier in 2019, Nice Hill Companions, a non-public fairness agency, acquired plenty of former Gawker Media properties, together with Gizmodo, Deadspin, Splinter, Jezebel, Kotaku, The Root, and The Onion, from Univision, who’d initially bought the portfolio following Gawker Media’s 2016 vivisection cum chapter. Nice Hill slapped collectively a brand new media firm they referred to as G/O Media, employed a bunch of getting old Forbes bros to run the present, and set to work dismantling their new purchases. The first to fall was Splinter, a razor-sharp politics web site that stored the rebellious spirit of Gawker alive; on October 10, a memo went out that the positioning was being shut down and 7 of its staffers have been being laid off. Two weeks later, one other memo was despatched, this time to Deadspin’s employees, ordering them to “stick to sports,” and a beloved longtime editor was fired for resisting the mandate; the writers and editors referred to as G/O’s bluff and quit en masse.
Your complete tragedy performed out on social media, particularly on Twitter, and watching Deadspin collapse in actual time was each terrible and galvanizing for individuals who have already been by the digital meat grinder. It felt totally different than the hemorrhages at Vice, Buzzfeed, and so many others; these occurred abruptly, with out a lot warning, and the employees have been rendered powerless to cease the cull. The layoffs have been dealt with in-house, with as a lot sterility as HR may muster. All that the general public noticed was a sudden inflow of “I suppose I’m freelance now” tweets. All of the viscera have been fastidiously packed away in Kafkaesque severance packages and non-disclosure agreements.
However with Deadspin, the axe didn’t fall swiftly. The staffers knew that the worst was but to return however didn’t enable themselves to be led quietly to their doom. With their union’s backing, they resisted. They yanked their heads off the block, and walked away with center fingers held aloft. Within the spirit of Gawker’s very public 2015 unionization marketing campaign, former reporter Laura Wagner’s investigation into their craven new CEO, and former Deadspin EIC Megan Greenwell’s magisterial explanation of what went unsuitable, they took on this problem the best way longtime readers have come to count on: bravely, irreverently, with probably the most stunning “Fuck me? Hey, buddy, fuck YOU” vitality possible. As web site founder Will Leitch said on Twitter, “They refused to provide in to the unhealthy guys.”
For now, Deadspin continues to be technically alive, albeit in a somnambulant fugue state. It seemingly gained’t final lengthy: Vampires and zombies are seldom present in the identical place, and one can solely think about how G/O administration will react to the relentless and deserved storm of criticism that greets their each boneheaded transfer. Vampires favor their victims to be left lifeless. If the standard sample holds, G/O will suck out what it will probably, and transfer on. Your favorite website could be next, and one can solely hope they’ll have the ability to take a stand the best way the great freaks at Deadspin did.
This wrongheaded company plundering didn’t begin and won’t cease with Deadspin; vampires are ceaselessly in want of recent hosts. Personal-equity companies have quietly taken over a big swath of the American financial system: shopping for up firms, promoting them off for elements, then stealing away unscathed. There’s a motive presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has been so outspoken in opposition to them. Personal fairness is a hazard to the free press, and a scourge upon the already weakened state of journalism. In just below two years, these companies have turned LA Weekly into a dull husk, ravaged The Denver Submit, gutted Sports activities Illustrated, and silently strangled dozens of native newspapers throughout the nation.
Media is much from their solely goal, although non-public fairness does have a style for probably the most weak. Over the previous decade, they’ve killed 1.3 million retail jobs, and the Los Angeles Occasions studies that 10 of the 14 largest retail chain bankruptcies since 2012 have been at non-public equity-acquired chains. A well-known instance of their brutal negligence is Toys “R” Us, which was pushed into chapter 11 after being acquired in 2014 by a pair of personal fairness companies, KKR and Bain Capital. Some 33,000 employees have been laid off, and it took months—and a class-action lawsuit—earlier than employees bought the severance payouts they have been owed. At this time, Bain Capital holds over $100 billion in belongings, and continues to hunt new victims.
Not even the sick and injured are protected from this specific pressure of supernatural avarice. The Carlyle Group, a large non-public fairness agency, got here below fireplace in 2018 when conditions at ManorCare, a nursing residence chain that it had purchased in 2007 and pushed into chapter 11, have been revealed to have been so understaffed that residents have been ceaselessly left to wallow in their very own filth. Some reported rooms overrun with roaches and ants, whereas others sustained grievous accidents as a consequence of neglect. In 2018, Hahnemann College Hospital, a 171-year-old facility in Middle Metropolis Philadelphia, was purchased by Joel Freedman’s Paladin Healthcare by way of a mortgage from MidCap Monetary, a subsidiary of the infamous private-equity agency Apollo World Administration, whose founder Leon Black was allegedly friend of billionaire intercourse abuser Jeffrey Epstein and who up till just lately counted Blackwater USA—the architects of a horrific massacre of Iraqi civilians in 2007—amongst its many holdings.
Freedman ushered the hospital—which is Drexel College’s foremost educating hospital, employs hundreds of unionized employees, and gives care to low-income, underserved, predominantly black and Latinx communities—into chapter 11, and introduced plans to promote its actual property to the very best bidder, hastening gentrification within the space. Locals are devastated on the prospect and have staged a number of protests. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally on the hospital, calling it “loopy” that “a hospital is being transformed into an actual property alternative so as to make some rich man much more cash, ignoring the health-care wants of hundreds of individuals.” The hospital stopped accepting sufferers in July.
Personal fairness has worn out entire grocery chains. It controls the worth of calling our loved ones in prison. It profits off the bail bonds and payday loans that extort poor communities of coloration. It purchased the Playboy Mansion (for higher or worse). It kneecapped millennial trend staple Without end 21. It even killed Necco wafers—and left the crumbs for the rats. Personal fairness vampires are ugly avatars for capitalism itself: They’re rapacious, and roam the earth draining communities of their livelihoods. As anybody who’s ever seen a vampire film or learn an Anne Rice (or Twilight) novel is aware of, vampires cease at nothing till they’re happy—and this 21st-century subspecies won’t ever suck down sufficient capital to fill the gaping holes the place their souls needs to be. There isn’t a comfortable ending right here, until a ruthless new period of regulation swoops in to place a picket stake by the center of personal fairness.