Amidst all the palaver over the recent hacking of Sony Entertainment and subsequent threats something keeps popping into my head. There’s an old political adage that states that should you have people from both sides of an issue complaining about your decision then you must have done something right. The Sony decision to pull its sophomoric film The Interview in light of cyber threats fits right in. The company was harshly criticized by both Hollywood and the Republican Party, to say nothing of the president.
As of now Sony stands to lose a chunk of cash by essentially scrapping the film. They have been roundly shellacked by critics for caving in to alleged North Korean threats. But what if they didn’t pull the flick? What if they took George Clooney and President Obama’s advice – neither of whom attend movies in public theatres I presume – and went ahead and opened the movie wide, right across the country on Christmas Day as planned? And let’s just say that those who made the threats carried through on them, resulting in several horrific incidents in different cities, ranging from, let’s say, gas attacks to fires, and about a hundred cinema patrons are killed.
This would of course be an egregious turn of events, an act of war, completely unprovoked. And who would be the whipping boy? Sony of course. They’d be branded as greedy for going ahead with the film and putting the public in danger. It would be deemed a true corporate cash grab with no concern for safety.
When the terrorism threat level is elevated in New York City, they suspend visits to the top of the Empire State Building. Does anyone claim this is caving in? Of course not. Even if the reason for curtailing the tours is more about the possibility of visitors actually being terrorists than it is about their safety, the fact remains that a threat by an outside source caused a change in daily life. It’s just logic.
Withdrawing the film was more a matter of public security than of caving in to the demands of cyber terrorists. Going ahead with the film would have required extra security at the nation’s cinemas; security that could be put to much better use policing neighborhoods instead of being tied-up by the possibility of attacks by cyber terrorists.
Does this set a new low standard? Will any threat now alter daily life? I don’t believe so.
Rather than getting it right, Sony can’t win.