When I do an “And You” article, it’s because something has happened in a community this blog usually connects to that I feel the need to address to the community, often with both sides being wrong on at least one point. This is slightly different. There was some initial fallout that I want to address, but my larger point is wondering why more of you aren’t concerned about these events.
For anyone not following entertainment news, a group of hackers calling themselves “Guardians Of Peace” (whom the US government are convinced are connected to North Korea) went after Sony Pictures over Seth Rogan’s The Interview, a movie that stars Rogan and James Franco as journalists ordered by the CIA to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after they score an interview with him. For some crazy reason, Kim (family name first in Korean culture–at first I thought it was just Japan) wasn’t happy about that. Can’t imagine why.
Whether the hackers are loyalists or actually working for the government (and most of the country is) doesn’t matter to the rest of us. That’s politics. What is a concern is that they hacked Sony’s servers and leaked a ton of information, from back and forth emails that weren’t supposed to be released to the public (possibly because most of us wouldn’t get the context, or it was none of our business anyway) to early movie information that they weren’t ready to release to the public. People on Twitter were so happy about some of this information because they got to either laugh or take pop shots at Sony. Then the hackers gave their demands. Simply put, cancel all showings of The Interview or they will launch more attacks, with some reports I’ve seen hinting they won’t be all cyber-based.
Initially this caused the theaters to panic, pulling showings and cancelling at least one big premiere event. I’m still getting conflicting reports if Sony decided not to show the movie or if it’s still scheduled for Christmas Day of this year. I’ve seen indifference or calling Sony out for a “lack of guts”, but what I haven’t seen is my reaction…fear. Not the same fear that Sony and the theaters have, but fear this won’t be the last time.
This isn’t the first time something controversial has come out, but it might be the last. That’s fine if it’s something you disapprove of, but what about something you do? For all we know The Interview is not a good movie. Seth Rogen’s track record is spotty, with some movies working and others not. That’s not really the point. The stand isn’t over a terrible movie, but the reaction by a hostile group and how it could return the next time someone makes a movie involving a world leader who has access to cyberterrorists, or some other movement you may or may not agree with.
Somebody mentioned Team America: World Police featured Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, getting killed. (I think, I never saw it.) The South Park movie, by the same guys, had Sadam Hussein as Satan’s gay lover after being killed (long before the real Iraqi leader) on the show. Hussein also died in Top Gun parody Hot Shots: Part Deux. And even before the war fictional characters were punching Adolph Hitler’s lights out. Imagine what would have happened if the internet as it is today, with things like cloud storage and groups of hackers able to get into them to see naked celebrities they have no right seeing naked, existed at those times?
Also, Kim Jong Un is more media savvy than his late father. He’s from a younger generation and grew up with movies, the internet, video games (surprised Jack Thompson never jumped on that), and the like. So if he heard about this movie (and until this fallout I hadn’t) I wouldn’t be surprised if he took this route. The average person wouldn’t want to see a movie about the government forcing journalists to assassinate them, so why would someone who puts himself in godhood, as the Kims have done during their reign of North Korea?
The question is whether or not we want these movies seeing release under this kind of threat, whether they’re death threats or more of these kind of leaks that could ruin companies? I know some people are surprised when things they post on Facebook get thrown back at them, and those accounts are usually public. What happens with something that you only meant for one or two people who understand what you mean gets sent out to billions of other people who don’t, or won’t acknowledge they’ve said the same crap about you to their friends or co-workers exclusively so they can make you out to be the bad person?
Then there’s all the personal data that’s been released. Emails, home addresses…with rape and death threats people send to media companies about a movie, TV show, book, or game they take more seriously than their own families–and I’m talking about threats against children of the creators involved–do you really think they won’t attack at home? This is dangerous on a personal level.
And it doesn’t stop there. The “Guardians” (more like the Renegades…Cy-Kill would love these jokers) did this through identity theft. The Hollywood Reporter talked to an accountant falsely drawn into this, and she wasn’t the only victim. An accountant! She wasn’t even connected to the creation of the movie unless she ran the budget numbers or something.
So what should our response be? And by “our” I mean the moviegoing and fan communities. It should be outrage not at Sony but at North Korea and this group of hackers! They’re causing trouble for innocent people, damaging if not ruining Sony Pictures (and if they go any movie you enjoyed from them and were hoping for a sequel from goes with them), and if you think I’m kidding, go see how many movies canceled shoots over this. Scripts have been leaked for movies like the upcoming James Bond flick SPECTRE, which will lead to more prospoiler/antispoiler conflicts as people have the movie ruined for them even if they avoided the spoilers. Celebrities have had aliases they use to try to have a quiet vacation leaked. They haven’t just messed with companies, they’ve further screwed up people’s lives! Imagine that you were that accountant, or these celebrities looking to not be hounded by reporters while celebrating Christmas with your family, or a movie or video game writer inundated with threats because you didn’t put the “right” couple together in your story or because you have the “wrong body parts” to be writing a certain franchise. These have happened.
And why would this stop with foreign governments? Imagine this someday being used by rival studios? Seeing what effect this ultimately has on Sony might encourage a new form of corporate espionage, using the press to destroy their rivals…and for whatever reason they’ll be happy to do it. We’re talking about weaponizing TMZ, people, and I’m not even kidding here.
This is a big concern and I would love to see more outrage against these “Guardians Of Peace”. I mean, these are fan communities that come to the defense of terrible media products when our own government (or Australia’s if you’re a gamer) bans something or looks to restrict something. This is a foreign power getting mad and taking something away AND threatening the lives and livelihoods of innocent people. Doesn’t that warrant some kind of angry response? Or are you too busy laughing at Sony’s dark secrets being leaked to realize the cause of those leaks is a potential threat to our way of life and freedom of speech?