Friday, December 19, 2014

A Second Post About "The Interview"

Now it seems that the film The Interview will not be released at all, not even on Video on Demand, at least in the near future. Sony first abandoned plans to release the film after most theater chains in the United States refused to show it after the hackers (likely backed by North Korea) threatened 9/11-esque terror attacks. It seems more realistic that the greater danger would be hacking of customer credit card data and the like rather than physical violence (thus saith Homeland Security), but given how a judge has ruled a lawsuit against the theater in Aurora, Colorado over the shooting in the movie theater can go forward, that theaters might be concerned is understandable.

(The only solution I could think of would be for the government to agree to assume liability for this particular situation on the grounds of defending the citizens' freedoms against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That could potentially be very expensive and theater owners might not want the theaters full of cops--or if a municipality doesn't have enough police, the National Guard--as an alternative to simply not screening the movie. And they're a private business--if they don't want to go to all the trouble, that's their call.)

However, many movie theaters like the Plaza Theater in Atlanta were still willing to show the movie. I was actually planning on seeing it there as part of a "To Hell With Kim Jong-Un" outing. I am aware there is a risk (however minimal) of violence or (more probable) that my financial data might be compromised in a reprisal hack. Thing is, life has risks.

We are free because people in this country resisted bullies like the British Crown, the Klan, etc. not by cowering and hoping against hope the arrogant and the strong would show mercy. I intended to see the movie to show that I (and presumably the others who would see it with me) were not going to be intimidated by the Internet hired guns of some chunky despot in some unreconstructed Stalinist hellhole. And to all those people moralizing in the comments sections about how showing the movie isn't worth innocent lives, that if there was an incident the same people who condemned Sony for pulling the movie would condemn Sony for releasing the movie, etc., I would remind you that Allied bombing killed vast numbers of civilians living under German occupation in WWII and these same populations thought it was worth it to be liberated. Sometimes freedom has a price.

Then, when I was in the early stages of organizing my outing, Sony pulled the movie completely. One of my friends theorized that the hackers still had unreleased employee personal data that they could have released if further antagonized and Sony knuckled under to their threats to protect employees, which this article here supports. However, this article here depicts Sony warning past and present employees that their data is already out there. If that is the case, this was cowardice on Sony's part, since the hackers would have (foolishly) expended their leverage.

And Paramount is even worse. Some theaters decided to show Team America World Police instead to show they would not be intimidated by Fat Boy and his minions, but Paramount prevented them from screening the film. Paramount has not been hacked and now that the North Koreans' goons' tactics are known, precautions can be taken. And since it seemed the theater owners were making the decision to show the movie on their own, they're the ones assuming liability. This is an even more pathetic case of cowardice on the part of Paramount, which can't even plead coercion the way Sony can.

I've seen some people online suggesting that The Interview would be released later once the hubbub dies down, either theatrically or, to avoid security problems, by video-on-demand. It would be a good idea to give Sony a few months to a year to do the right thing, once the initial threat has passed. However, between Sony's "no plans" statement and this new threat by hackers, that might not be happening. If Sony tried to kill the movie permanently, this would be one of those rare occasions that I would support pirating it and spreading it so far over the Internet that all the threats and bloviations of Sony, Fat Boy, etc. would not be able to stop it. It would foil the North Korean regime's desire that people not see this movie and show Sony that bowing to the demands of hackers can cost them as well.

(And to anyone who says that'd be victimizing Sony twice, this would allow them to get their product out there and have an excuse to the people holding them hostage that they had nothing to do with it. Once the cat's out of the bag, the hackers might back off and Sony can release it legitimately.)

Judd Apatow has said Sony's actions guarantee the film will be seen illegally. Glad to see he agrees with me.

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