Let’s hope Sony’s scrapping of The Interview doesn’t set a dangerous precedent

I didn’t blog yesterday because I had a long day at work, I was tired, and there really wasn’t much going on in the news, anyway.

Today could not be more different.

I worked less than five hours, I’m blitzed on caffeine, and there’s so much going on in the news today that I could write an entire volume of blogs.

The biggest news in the grand scheme of the world is easily President Obama’s announcement of renewed relations between the United States and Cuba. But the most talked about item is the Sony hacks, and the entertainment conglomerate’s decision to pull The Interview on Christmas Day.

This only happened a few years ago, but it’s already sparked a lot of conversation from several angles. In case you’re behind in the news, Sony was hacked. Email conversations, screenplays, copies of unreleased films and The Interview2private information of employees was leaked.

The most dramatic thing to come out of it was an announcement by the group responsible for the hack, the Guardians of Peace, that they would mount a terrorist attack akin to September 11 if The Interview aired.

Since The Interview mocks  Kim Jong-Un, it was widely believed North Korea was involved. The FBI has since confirmed it.

Aaron Sorkin wrote a very interesting op-ed in the New York Times, blaming the media nearly as much as the hackers. He makes a valid point. Yes, it was the hackers who made all of the information available, but it was the media who jumped on it and made it public and easily accessible.

But the primary topic of discussion is whether Sony should have given in and pulled the movie. As much as I hate to say it, I personally think they had no choice.

Major theater chains already announced their intention to not show the movie. And I don’t blame them. Think of it from the perspective of theater owner. Christmas is one of the most profitable days of the year. Besides The Interview, there’s several other movies coming out that day, many of them family-oriented.

Why risk deterring families and moviegoers from coming to your theater because of a movie that wasn’t going to be your primary source of revenue, and isn’t even getting great reviews, anyway?

After that, cancelling the Dec. 25 release was inevitable. It forced Sony’s hand.

Whether the movie gets released at a later date, or in a completely different format altogether, remains to be seen.

The cancellation has not been well-received, to say the least, by Hollywood. Many are blasting it as a major blow for creative expression. Others say it sets a dangerous precedent for censorship, as well as any future and/or anonymous threats.

One might say, “why would Seth Rogen even make a movie like this? If you mock a totalitarian regime that has long been associated with terrorism, then what did you expect?”

My response is to look no further than Charlie Chaplin.

In 1940, he wrote, directed and starred in The Great Dictator, a satire of Adolf Hitler, released before World War II and during the height of the German ruler’s power. That took guts. It’s now praised as one of the most important movies ever made.

The world was a lot different in 1940 than it is now. There was no Internet.

Regardless, let’s not let this set a precedent for timid film making.

I predict that The Interview will be released, sooner than later, and because of the controversy, more people will see it than originally expected.

The terrorists got what they wanted. For now.

But for the sake of humanity, let’s hope creative expression prevails in the end.

 

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