I logged onto Facebook this morning and found a rather unpleasant article courtesy of my fellow blogger The Corner Critic. Apparently the Georgia-based movie theater chain Carmike Cinemas has canceled screenings of the upcoming film The Interview due to liability concerns after Internet death threats were made, something done with the blessing of Sony Pictures. The film's premiere in New York was canceled due to threats of a "9/11-style attack." And Sony has already caved to North Korea's whining once already by editing real-life North Korean military medals out of the film.
I can understand prudence, especially if there are lives and/or a great deal of money on the line. However, the chances of anything actually happening are extremely remote. Although North Korea has engaged in state sponsorship of terror before (so there is precedent for violent behavior abroad), incidents like the Rangoon Bombing and the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 were in the 1980s and in Asia to boot. North Korea is a heck of a lot poorer now without Soviet subsidies and with its economy having tanked to the point of famine. And by making threats, whoever is behind the hacks (probably agents of the regime) has openly telegraphed its intentions. Whatever assets, personnel, etc. they've got here (apparently they don't have diplomatic relations with the U.S.) would be under more serious scrutiny. Even if they seriously attempted anything, it would get nixed really quickly.
Hacking and making Internet threats are an extremely cheap way to sow terror. All you really need are a couple guys with computer skills (and diplomatic immunity if they get caught) to do things like hack Sony's computers or send online death threats. Actually putting together a terrorist attack is a much more difficult proposition. The first link cites the Department of Homeland Security saying there is no evidence an actual attack is in the works. This report from the Atlanta-based pop-culture news site Fanbolt confirms it.
Furthermore, it seems rather questionable that movie theaters would be liable in the unlikely event there were some kind of terrorist attack. This article here indicates workplaces can be sued for negligence, but if theaters can get Sony Pictures to provide extra security, hire security guards themselves, or get the local government to provide extra police (spin it as defending Americans' right to see whatever movies they like being under threat from foreign goons), that would indicate they took the threat seriously and would limit their liability.
I do like what this group of human-rights activists are planning on doing--sending copies of The Interview into North Korea via balloon. I wonder if they've already done the same with Team America World Police, since that one mocks Kim Jong-Il mercilessly. The article states that North Korea would be much more upset at The Interview than a film like Titanic because it openly undermines the cult of the Kims. If non-political Western movies weaken the brainwashing as much as the story in the article indicates, movies openly bashing the Kim Dynasty would be even more effective.
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