Displaced Anger Over Sony’s Shelving Of The Interview

by | Dec 19, 2014

Sony has the power of the dollar. Don't blame it for not having the power of the gun.


From The Washington Post:

Sony Pictures Entertainment on Wednesday canceled the Christmas Day release of “The Interview,” bowing to threats of a wide-scale attack from hackers who U.S. intelligence officials have concluded were working for North Korea. […] Based on a screenplay by Dan Sterling, “The Interview” tells the story of two celebrity journalists (James Franco and Seth Rogen) who land an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on their popular television show, only to have the CIA ask them to assassinate him.

[…] Earlier in the day, the nation’s five largest theater circuits — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — said they would delay the $44 million film’s opening. Regal, the biggest of the five, said it would delay the screening because of “the wavering support of the film” by Sony “as well as the ambiguous nature” of the threats. Cineplex said it “takes seriously its commitment to the freedom of artistic expression” but added that safety was paramount because of the “unprecedented and complex situation.”

That decision created its own backlash, as people took to Facebook to call the chain “cowards” for “kowtowing” to the threats. In response, Bow Tie spokesman Joe Masher said: “The safety of our patrons and staff are our number one priority. Period. It was a difficult decision for us to make.”

[…] Actor Rob Lowe said in a tweet that he had seen Rogen at the airport and that “both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this.” He added, “Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today,” a reference to the British prime minister linked with the appeasement of Nazi Germany.

For halting the release of the movie, “The Interview,” Sony Pictures is being compared to Neville Chamberlain, and damned as cowardly (with every variation of “spineless” that’s in the thesaurus, and others I’m sure that are not). (Incidentally, some theater owners had already decided to not show the movie.)

Suppose there’s a credible bomb threat at your home. Do you and your family stick around with a target on your back or flee for safety? Suppose there’s one at your place of employment. The building is cleared, and then products and services aren’t delivered. Now suppose the police and politicians say: “We’ll wag our fingers a bit, and issue empty statements about the evil of extortion.” But they do not take the threat seriously. They don’t use their police powers to protect you and your property, or to track down, arrest, and prosecute the extortionists. (The source of the extortion and the nature of the product is irrelevant here.) Ask any victim of stalking what their life is like, and what type of tortuous decisions they have to make, when the authorities do *not* take the threat seriously.

north korea

Absent that government protection, what was Sony supposed to do? It can’t go bankrupt trying to protect its employees and properties. Neither can the theater owners. And imagine the outcry (and subsequent lawsuits, and possible criminal charges) if it had released the film, and there were a bombing: “Evil corporation — putting ‘profits ahead of people.'”

It is understandable that some see Sony’s decision as a threat to their values. But their anger at Sony is displaced (and the epithets hurled at it an injustice.) The company is no more to blame than were the bookstores who refused to carry Rushdie’s book after they were threatened with bombings by the mullahs in Iran. That righteous indignation should be redirected toward its actual target: the government for not doing its job.

At minimum, there should have been a speech by the President, with him flanked by the heads of the CIA, FBI, and the armed forces: “Federal, state, and local police will be present at every movie theater showing “The Interview.” Federal Marshals are protecting Sony, its properties, and employees. Our military commanders will now give you more details about the aircraft carriers, bombers, and Special Forces that have been deployed to North Korea.”

Sony has the power of the dollar. Don’t blame it for not having the power of the gun.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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