If you've been paying attention to entertainment news recently, you've been hearing about the Sony hack. (If this is the first you've heard of it, Sony's computer systems were hacked and basically anything and everything about anyone who's ever worked with/for/near them has been leaked to the public.) Fortunately I haven't personally been affected, though the director of my film last week fielded a phone call from his lawyer between takes. "Yeah. Your name is out there."
I admit I've been casually skimming headlines and first paragraphs out of sheer curiosity, mildly entertained by the candid emails sent between studio execs. Some people are up in arms because "X" exec was frustrated when "Y" star pulled out of their movie and shared what weren't exactly flattering opinions. It feels a bit high-schooly. Sure, more delicate words could have been chosen, particularly in a medium as permanent as email, but I hold nothing against any of them. We'd all be blushing if the world combed through our private emails with a magnifying glass.
What actually does upset me is the alleged reason behind the hack. (I say alleged because I don't think it's still 100% confirmed.) Apparently it's Kim Jong-Un's response to a Sony film with the premise of an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-Un. I can understand that ol' Kim isn't so pumped about that. The Interview is probably a really shitty movie with bad-taste humor about someone everyone loves to hate. I imagine it's going to place Kim Jong-Un in pretty unfavorable light. If it were me, that would make me pretty crabby too.
Unfortunately for Kim (and anyone else who's had to face intense public criticism and satire)... hurt feelings are not an adequate justification for stifling free speech. Neither are desires to preserve a certain image you would like to maintain. (Even if that's how you run things in your own country.)
What upsets me the most? The hackers succeeded. Sony has pulled the film. Is it really that easy to block the release of a major studio picture because you don't like the plot? Precedent is a word everyone is throwing around today. It's a scary word and no one knows what the long term effects of this will be.
My initial outrage was at what felt like a back down, a surrender in the face of blatant censorship. After I calmed a bit, I realized that there are so many other factors at play. Like, can the theater companies protect their employees and patrons from a hacking similar to that which has crumpled Sony? (**I am not even going to attempt to address the other threat. I cannot imagine that anyone would actually bomb a movie theater over a stupid movie that people will forget 10 minutes after they finish their popcorn.**) If those companies are not confident in their digital security, then perhaps we should take a moment to get that under control and revisit a release later. That's a smart and responsible move... even though my 'merica instincts want to go all cowboy and air the movie simultaneously on every tv channel around the world during primetime.
Ironically, if it is North Korea (and not a Sony publicity stunt, which is an actual theory that is circulating, dear god let that not be true), the move will likely backfire. In reality, this has actually increased the awareness of what would have probably been a forgettable box office event. Everyone is now jonesing to see the film, myself included.
We'll see how this plays out. Meanwhile, go change all your passwords and watch how you phrase your thoughts in heated emails.