Contributor Post Created with Sketch. So, Yeah … The Terrorists Won

 

Hollywood, in case you haven’t heard, is a brave place. There’s no adjective the town is fonder of during bouts of self-congratulation. Every film that wanders into liberal erogenous zones of race, class, gender, or sexual orientation is always hailed as courageous, though that’s an odd way to describe material that simply reaffirms an industrywide ideological consensus.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these films are legitimately praiseworthy. I happen to think, for instance, that — unserious and reflexive conservative carping notwithstanding — 12 Years A Slave was actually a harrowing, moving portrayal of the depredations of slavery. But brave? There are few views that command such absolute consensus in modern American society as the notion that the possession of human chattel was a grave sin. The movie wasn’t exactly swimming against the tide.

Now, however, Hollywood has a legitimate opportunity for bravery — and the industry is wilting in the heat. From Fox News:

The hackers behind a devastating attack on Sony are threatening an “11th of September”-style attack on movie theaters showing an upcoming film that pokes fun at North Korea’s communist dictatorship…

In a message emailed to various reporters and accompanying the latest in a series of leaks that have included employee emails, health and financial information, the hackers who call themselves “Guardians of Peace” sent a grim warning to people planning to attend screenings of “The Interview,” even warning people who live near cinemas to leave home, according to a report from Variety.

“Warning…We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” reads the message posted on Tuesday. “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear.”

Silly terrorists. If you really want to cause social chaos, the proper strategy is to not interrupt screenings of a James Franco film.

I have no idea whether The Interview will be any good. Given the talent involved, I suspect that it will be legitimately funny and eye-rollingly sophomoric by turns. But I like the pluck involved in producing a film whose entire premise is taking a shot (literally and figuratively) at Kim Jong-Un and the regime in Pyongyang. That seems like the kind of thing that ought to happen in a boisterous, rollicking free society.

So how is Hollywood dealing with the threat? From ABC News:

Sony has told theaters they do not have to show “The Interview,” after the group claiming responsibility for stealing troves of Sony executives’ emails released a note apparently threatening attacks on the theaters where the movie will be played, sources said.

Actors James Franco and Seth Rogen also canceled all press appearances in light of the threats, a representative for Rogen said.

Wait, what? Am I the only one who remembers that period when members of the entertainment industry were at the forefront of the argument that even the most minuscule change in American life produced by the threat of violence meant that the terrorists had won? And now they’re going to ground because of chest-thumping from a pudgy boy dictator with the Brad Pitt haircut from Fury?

If Hollywood was as brave as its denizens say it is every time the wine is flowing at the Beverly Hilton, wouldn’t this be an opportunity to defiantly declare that it won’t be silenced? To rub the hackers’ noses in the fact that this is how a free society functions? Or is this that kind of “bravery” where you tweak the Southern Baptist Convention to your heart’s content but lose bladder control when you get on the wrong side of anyone with actual power?

Update: Variety is now reporting that Sony has pulled the theatrical release of The Interview altogether. No word yet on whether it will ever see theaters, though the language of the piece makes that seem a distant possibility. From a statement quoted in the piece:

“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public,” it continues. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

We stand by their right to free expression? Or we stand behind it while it takes three rounds to the chest?

There are 77 comments.

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  1. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Who knew Kim Jong-Un was Muslim?

    • #1
    • December 17, 2014, at 11:06 AM PST
    • Like
  2. Tom Meyer, Common Citizen Contributor

    Troy Senik, Ed.: I happen to think, for instance, that — unserious and reflexive conservative carping notwithstanding — 12 Years A Slave was actually a harrowing, moving portrayal of the depredations of slavery. But brave? There are few views that command such absolute consensus in modern American society as the notion that the possession of human chattel was a grave sin. The movie wasn’t exactly swimming against the tide.

    I realize this is tangential, but I just wanted to heartily endorse all this. Really good movie; not a brave movie.

    • #2
    • December 17, 2014, at 11:24 AM PST
    • Like
  3. Percival Thatcher
    PercivalJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Dear Sony,

    Broadcast it. Yeah, you’re going to take a bath, but at this point that’s inevitable. Bite the bullet and go for it.

    On the other hand, maybe you don’t take a bath. Do this right and you could approach Super Bowl numbers.

    • #3
    • December 17, 2014, at 11:30 AM PST
    • Like
  4. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Troy,

    If Hollywood was as brave as its denizens say it is every time the wine is flowing at the Beverly Hilton, wouldn’t this be an opportunity to defiantly declare that it won’t be silenced? To rub the hackers’ noses in the fact that this is how a free society functions? Or is this that kind of “bravery” where you tweak the Southern Baptist Convention to your heart’s content but lose bladder control when you get on the wrong side of anyone with actual power?

    They don’t have actual bravery just an amazing simulation. Sort of like a special effect.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #4
    • December 17, 2014, at 11:59 AM PST
    • 1 like
  5. KC Mulville Inactive

    A new meaning for “straight to DVD.”

    • #5
    • December 17, 2014, at 12:03 PM PST
    • Like
  6. Hank Rearden Member

    Still waiting for the Theo Van Gogh Oscar for Courageous Documentary.

    Heck, it’s even a famous last name in art.

    • #6
    • December 17, 2014, at 12:06 PM PST
    • Like
  7. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Waitaminute.

    If Sony has the power to tell theatres they don’t have to show the movie, that implies that Sony otherwise has the power to dictate to theatres that they must show its movies.

    And here I thought studio domination of theatres was broken up in 1948

    • #7
    • December 17, 2014, at 12:36 PM PST
    • Like
  8. Valiuth Member
    ValiuthJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Troy Senik, Ed.: I happen to think, for instance, that — unserious and reflexive conservative carping notwithstanding — 12 Years A Slave was actually a harrowing, moving portrayal of the depredations of slavery. But brave? There are few views that command such absolute consensus in modern American society as the notion that the possession of human chattel was a grave sin. The movie wasn’t exactly swimming against the tide.

    I realize this is tangential, but I just wanted to heartily endorse all this. Really good movie; not a brave movie.

    A good movie? I rather thought it was kind of boring, and for all the talk of torture porn that surrounded it I found it rather tame. Now Django that was a fun movie.

    • #8
    • December 17, 2014, at 1:27 PM PST
    • Like
  9. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk andJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    If only this had happened prior to the release of Die Another Day, we might have been spared some pain…

    • #9
    • December 17, 2014, at 1:36 PM PST
    • Like
  10. James Gawron Thatcher
    James GawronJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Troy and all,

    How dare the decadent criminals who run the arts make emails that disgrace our glorious leader.

    Comrade Stalin knows who is for the people and who is an enemy of the people.

    SONY must beg for absolution from Comrade Beria..er..Comrade Sharpton.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #10
    • December 17, 2014, at 1:41 PM PST
    • Like
  11. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph StankoJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Am I the only one here who really, really wants to see this in a theater now, just on general principle?

    I loved Franco and Rogan in Freaks & Geeks. Their work since then has been hit or miss, but the preview looked like it could be halfway decent, and I mentally filed it in my “I might rent it someday” category.

    But when an evil dictator thinks he has the power to stop me from watching a movie, it makes me want to see it. If they release this in theaters I will go, and if not I will rent it. Heck, I might even buy the Blu-ray just to spite Pyongyang.

    • #11
    • December 17, 2014, at 2:43 PM PST
    • Like
  12. Blue Yeti Admin

    I thought Pineapple Express was pretty funny, actually.

    I’m sympathetic to Sony and the theater owners here. It’s their one of their busiest time of the year. If a prankster, having nothing to do with the hackers or North Korea so much as set off a firecracker in a theater, the theatrical business would be effectively destroyed for weeks. Class action lawsuits would roil on for years. For what? The sake of showing The Interview? Not worth it.

    Most studios have distribution agreements with the theaters that prevent them from simply releasing a new film directly on the internet. But perhaps they could get a waiver for this movie? Then, everyone could see it thereby foiling whom ever is responsible for this.

    • #12
    • December 17, 2014, at 3:03 PM PST
    • Like
  13. Fred Cole Member

    KC Mulville:A new meaning for “straight to DVD.”

    What’s a DVD?

    • #13
    • December 17, 2014, at 3:18 PM PST
    • Like
  14. Jordan Inactive

    Blue Yeti:I thought Pineapple Express was pretty funny, actually.

    I’m sympathetic to Sony and the theater owners here. It’s their one of their busiest time of the year. If a prankster, having nothing to do with the hackers or North Korea so much as set off a firecracker in a theater, the theatrical business would be effectively destroyed for weeks. Class action lawsuits would roil on for years. For what? The sake of showing The Interview? Not worth it.

    Most studios have distribution agreements with the theaters that prevent them from simply releasing a new film directly on the internet. But perhaps they could get a waiver for this movie? Then, everyone could see it thereby foiling whom ever is responsible for this.

    It’s not really about The Interview though. It really is the principle of the thing. The worst thing you can do to a bully is cave once, it makes it that much harder to stop them in the future because they will know they can get results.

    The only reasonable response to bullies is to lay them out, immediately and without mercy or warning. Crush them once and they won’t bother you again. It is the same for nations as it is for people; we merely lack the collective will to do it because of some misguided notion of proper behavior.

    I’m not sympathetic. I predict that more instances like this will follow because terrorism apparently works.

    • #14
    • December 17, 2014, at 3:32 PM PST
    • Like
  15. Blue Yeti Admin

    Jordan Wiegand:

    Blue Yeti:I thought Pineapple Express was pretty funny, actually.

    I’m sympathetic to Sony and the theater owners here. It’s their one of their busiest time of the year. If a prankster, having nothing to do with the hackers or North Korea so much as set off a firecracker in a theater, the theatrical business would be effectively destroyed for weeks. Class action lawsuits would roil on for years. For what? The sake of showing The Interview? Not worth it.

    Most studios have distribution agreements with the theaters that prevent them from simply releasing a new film directly on the internet. But perhaps they could get a waiver for this movie? Then, everyone could see it thereby foiling whom ever is responsible for this.

    It’s not really about The Interview though. It really is the principle of the thing. The worst thing you can do to a bully is cave once, it makes it that much harder to stop them in the future because they will know they can get results.

    The only reasonable response to bullies is to lay them out, immediately and without mercy or warning. Crush them once and they won’t bother you again. It is the same for nations as it is for people; we merely lack the collective will to do it because of some misguided notion of proper behavior.

    I’m not sympathetic. I predict that more instances like this will follow because terrorism apparently works.

    That’s a brave and sensible stance to take — if you’re not a theater owner.

    • #15
    • December 17, 2014, at 3:33 PM PST
    • Like
  16. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The new sign goes up tomorrow. Can you see it from Venice Beach?

    Pyongyang

    • #16
    • December 17, 2014, at 3:36 PM PST
    • Like
  17. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph StankoJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Blue Yeti: That’s a brave and sensible stance to take — if you’re not a theater owner.

    No, I don’t own a theater, but I said if they show the movie I’ll go watch it.

    Now if terrorists blow up the theater while I’m in it, it might hurt the owner’s bottom line, but it’ll hurt me a whole lot more.

    • #17
    • December 17, 2014, at 3:42 PM PST
    • Like
  18. Jordan Inactive

    That’s a brave and sensible stance to take — if you’re not a theater owner.

    Yeah, definitely. I can’t say that, did I own a theater, I wouldn’t think hard before showing it. Theater owners are in a bind. The terrorists are making them responsible for Sony’s behavior, so they are in an awkward position.

    Sony, however, could hire an army of hackers. They probably need some grey-hat support to redo their security anyway, might as well get to them to do some “external support” as well. Were I Kazuo Hirai or Mike Lynton, I’d probably be thinking those thoughts.

    • #18
    • December 17, 2014, at 3:49 PM PST
    • Like
  19. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Joseph Stanko: Am I the only one here who really, really wants to see this in a theater now, just on general principle?

    I loved Franco and Rogan in Freaks & Geeks. Their work since then has been hit or miss, but the preview looked like it could be halfway decent, and I mentally filed it in my “I might rent it someday” category.

    The last movie I saw Franco in was Your Highness. The intro was funny, but it was downhill from there. I turned it off after forcing myself through maybe half of it.

    He doesn’t seem like a bad actor. He’s the villain in a Jason Statham movie I’m looking forward to seeing. But I lost all respect for his selection of comedy scripts.

    • #19
    • December 17, 2014, at 3:54 PM PST
    • Like
  20. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph StankoJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jordan Wiegand: The only reasonable response to bullies is to lay them out, immediately and without mercy or warning. Crush them once and they won’t bother you again. It is the same for nations as it is for people; we merely lack the collective will to do it because of some misguided notion of proper behavior.

    I think one warning is fair. How about this: we announce that if there are any “11th of September”-style attacks on movie theaters, we will respond with airstrikes on all of North Korea’s known or suspected nuclear facilities.

    • #20
    • December 17, 2014, at 4:04 PM PST
    • Like
  21. Scott R Member
    Scott RJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Disgusting.

    It’s true that this situation requires special bravery from theater owners, just as the Muhammed cartoons required the same from print media.

    So? Step up. All together now. It’s not every day you get the chance to take a heroic stand — with, let’s be realistic, very little true risk.

    • #21
    • December 17, 2014, at 4:19 PM PST
    • Like
  22. Profile Photo Member

    Sony’s capitulation sets a horrible precedent- it is disgraceful.

    • #22
    • December 17, 2014, at 4:34 PM PST
    • 1 like
  23. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Joseph Stanko:

    Jordan Wiegand: The only reasonable response to bullies is to lay them out, immediately and without mercy or warning. Crush them once and they won’t bother you again. It is the same for nations as it is for people; we merely lack the collective will to do it because of some misguided notion of proper behavior.

    I think one warning is fair. How about this: we announce that if there are any “11th of September”-style attacks on movie theaters, we will respond with airstrikes on all of North Korea’s known or suspected nuclear facilities.

    Also, golf courses and arcades. I don’t think Kim Jong-Un has ever seen a nuke, but he has probably played Mario Kart with half of Hollywood and the NBA.

    • #23
    • December 17, 2014, at 4:51 PM PST
    • Like
  24. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil FawltyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

    Over which we had no control?

    • #24
    • December 17, 2014, at 5:15 PM PST
    • Like
  25. Totus Porcus Inactive

    I just pray that the Guardians of Peace hack Sony’s emails again so we can read all of the back-and-forth about pulling the picture.

    • #25
    • December 17, 2014, at 5:18 PM PST
    • Like
  26. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph StankoJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Basil Fawlty:“We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

    Over which we had no control?

    “We stand by our filmmakers… as long as they are standing somewhere safe, out of the line of fire.”

    • #26
    • December 17, 2014, at 5:27 PM PST
    • Like
  27. Crow's Nest Inactive

    Where do I sign the petition to bring this movie to my local theater without delay?

    Sack up, Sony!

    • #27
    • December 17, 2014, at 5:30 PM PST
    • Like
  28. Blue Yeti Admin

    Judithann Campbell:Sony’s capitulation sets a horrible precedent- it is disgraceful.

    It wasn’t Sony’s capitulation — Sony wants to try and at least get some of their money back. Rather, it was the theater owners along with their landlords, their insurers, their lawyers, their local elected officials, etc, etc, etc. who didn’t want the movie anywhere near them.

    • #28
    • December 17, 2014, at 5:40 PM PST
    • Like
  29. Blue Yeti Admin

    Basil Fawlty:“We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

    Over which we had no control?

    The mistake –if there was one– was making the movie in the first place. Once you green light the movie, the ship has pretty much sailed. You can try and tone it down (which they attempted) but you’re not going to change the basic idea of the movie.

    • #29
    • December 17, 2014, at 5:43 PM PST
    • Like
  30. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph StankoJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Blue Yeti: The mistake –if there was one– was making the movie in the first place. Once you green light the movie, the ship has pretty much sailed. You can try and tone it down (which they attempted) but you’re not going to change the basic idea of the movie.

    Yeah, what were they thinking? They should have rewritten it as a movie where they interview and try to kill the Koch brothers…

    • #30
    • December 17, 2014, at 5:54 PM PST
    • Like

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