Several weeks ago cyber hackers infiltrated the computers at Sony Pictures and publicly released private emails, documents and even full-length movies such as the upcoming release, “Annie.” At first the leaked documents were fluff – emails about celebrity salaries, closed-door negotiations and future movie spoilers. Then things got serious. A group called the Guardians of Peace threatened moviegoers with 9/11 type attacks if they see Sony’s upcoming comedy, “The Interview,” which pokes fun at North Korea and is scheduled to be released on Christmas Day.
“…Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. All the world will denounce the SONY.”
Despite reading like bad dialogue from an over-the-top villain out of a terrible B-movie, sounds pretty threatening, right? The big movie theater chains apparently thought so. As a result of the major chains refusing to show their film, Sony pulled the plug on the release of the film completely.
First of all, let me decide if a movie is awful, not a bunch of computer nerds. This sets a terrible precedent for any artistic work in the future. Now any individual or group can spew out similar threats against anything they don’t believe in and get their way. What if the KKK threatened terrorist action against the film, “Malcolm X?” What if Germans said “Nein!” to “Schindler’s List?” And would Hollywood take such action if obnoxious rednecks protested their portrayal in “Tammy?” Well, I actually wish they had on that one.
The point is we cannot let such threats jeopardize the artistic freedoms this country has fought so hard to protect. I realize this is an entertainment industry decision and not an Executive decision, so all that “The United States does not negotiate with terrorists” stuff doesn’t apply, but come on! There’s some really strong reasoning behind that rationale, and I wish people would stop pandering to the mindless masses just once and take a strong stand.
And yes, I understand that any threat to take human lives should be taken seriously and safety always comes first, but let’s be real. If it truly is the North Koreans who are behind the Sony cyber-attacks and making these threats, it’s not like the decision to pull a silly movie out of theaters will make them love us all of a sudden. If someone has it out for you, they will take action sooner or later, and the North Koreans, as annoying as that crick in your neck that just won’t go away, so far have only tried to see if the U.S. will flinch, without any serious bite behind their bark.
But what’s done is done, and I fear what will become of Hollywood’s future. Some of the most memorable films in history were quite controversial upon release, and if Hollywood becomes too scared to approach such topics and strike a few nerves in the future, we can all look forward to a bunch of safe and dumb movies about superheroes, toys or imaginary characters such as elves and hobbits. Oh wait, I guess we’re already too late. Anyone have Dennis Rodman’s number? Maybe he can help.