After a series of cyber-terrorist attacks, Sony has decided to pull Seth Rogen and James Franco’s ‘The Interview’ from its planned release. Sony have been accused of cowardice and failure. If we cannot protect freedom of creativity, many argue, then what kind of precedent does this set for challenging art?
But Sony is just a convenient scapegoat for this whole nightmarish episode. The cheek of people to accuse Sony of cowardice is one of the most hypocritical things the media has done in some time (which is saying something). The same newspapers that hailed Edward Snowden as a hero for revealing the NSA and GCHQ’s infringements on our privacy are the ones who delighted in the gossip-ridden emails of the Sony producers. This was a malicious campaign by North Korea to force them to stop the movie and they could not have achieved this without the media ganging up on Sony and printing the juicy emails with mouth-drooling glee.
Shortly after the hack, George Clooney attempted to unify the studios against the cyber-terrorists by asking them to voice public support for Sony. Not one person offered help, because they were scared that the same people would hack their own systems. And yet Sony are the cowards?
Of course, when some details of the emails were released, public opinion turned drastically against Sony. The joke about Obama liking 12 Years a Slave was obviously unacceptable and revealing that Jennifer Lawrence earned less than her male costars got her rabid fan base into a spin. But this was all a premeditated effort to force Sony into a corner and to lose them any potential allies. North Korea must have delighted in our triggered response to private business matters.
The conclusion to it all was so, so predictable and yet it seems to have taken everybody by surprise. After the hacked emails worked so well in the western media, of course they were going to threaten 9/11 style attacks if the film went ahead. The media and public seem to think that Sony should just put their fingers in the ears, blindfolded and pretend it isn’t happening. But it is happening, because we isolated them with our distasteful need for gossip.
If Sony allowed this film to be released and just one person was hurt because it offended someone, then they would be ruined. People would say ‘They should have pulled the movie in the face of potential violence!’ and ‘They should have heeded the warnings! They only released it so they could make money!’ And just imagine you’re Seth Rogen for a second. He has a wife and young family. Are you going to let a 0.00001% chance of them getting hurt because of a stupid movie you made? Of course you’re not.
How dare people call Sony the cowards. They are the victims here, no matter how unpleasant some of the emails were. People love to gang up on big business especially with a household name like Sony. Yet when it comes to freedom of creativity, the same ones think they should risk life and limb, not to mention company respectability, to confront terrorists. The media and other studios backed them into a corner, made them deal with hackers alone, and then jeered them when they admitted defeat. It is one of the most shameful episodes of hubris in the history of filmmaking.