You have probably heard the story, so I won’t go into details. After an unprecedented theft of internal and highly sensitive data in Sony’s computer system and more, and after threats to theaters that show the move “The Interview”, Sony has pulled the movie from distribution.
Many have spoken out angrily, arguing that this paves the way for further hacking and threats to curb our freedom of expression. I am reminded of the decade long threats to Salmon Rushdie after publication of “The Satanic Verses” and the hullabaloo over publication of cartoons in Denmark that depicted he who cannot be named or pictured.
My point is that we should not be surprised that persons would seek to snuff out media content that they find offensive or dangerous. It is a fairly regular occurrence. What is unusual here is that this fairly regular occurrence affects a main source of entertainment in the US – the movies.
What should Sony have done? Well, Sony made a booboo long ago. It is in the entertainment business but in this case it has created a political satire. Political satirists know that they will be attacked and prepare for it. Sony blundered forward without thinking that something might be amiss when they create a film about the assassination of a real person in power. A person who has at his disposal weapons to strike back and who apparently has employed them. Ooops.
But having stuck its toe in the world of political satire, Sony has now acted like an entertainment company again, saying in effect, “well, we were just having fun and all of this nasty stuff just isn’t worth it. ” Sorry, once you are in the soup, you are soupy. Fred Wilson has a good point — Sony can let everyone see the film online and judge for themselves what this is all about. But I think Sony is just hurting itself more here by trying the ostrich defense.
Lawrence O’Donnell (as usual) just made a good point. Sony cannot give over DVD copies or digital streaming rights to this film without exposing itself to further hacking threats. And the FBI has probably advised Sony and others that those threats are real. Thus, we are not likely to see this film online anytime soon. Sad but so it goes, it appears.