Given the fact that I had, and still have, no interest in seeing the SONY picture The Interview, I am nevertheless saddened to see its theatrical release scuttled. As you probably heard, the film is about a couple of “tabloid TV show” journalists…
When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim.
SONY pictures’ computers have been hacked by cyberbullies believed to be tied to North Korea. Or maybe not. A load of internal data was released – more anon – but the most serious action was a threat that suggested people stay away from the theaters showing the film, lest some Sept. 11, 2001-type attack befall them.
The riffraff on the Internet who think that SONY created the threat as a way to boost buzz for the Interview I find odd The conspiracy theorists are tiresome; it spent $30 million on the film, and tens of millions on the promotion. In any case, the alert got several of the largest movie theater chains to decide not to show the film, scheduled to open on Christmas Day. SONY then decided to pull the film from release.
Naturally, the politicians have weighed in. Mitt Romney, the once and perhaps future Presidential nominee suggests that SONY stream it for free. The incumbent, Barack Obama, suggested that we continue to go to the movies, and told SONY that it made a mistake shelving the flick.
A small part of me is actually thinking that the hoary cliche, We’re letting the terrorists win, seems appropriate here. As the George Clooney petition, which NO one in Hollywood signed, there’s a lot of cowardice in Tinsel Town. On the other hand, as Mark Evanier noted: “We cancel airline flights if there’s even a vague threat. We evacuate buildings if there are suspicious packages. In a sense, the terrorists/hackers have already won this one.”
Some of the data breaches of SONY have turned out to be everything from merely embarrassing to so problematic that lawsuits are threatened; it has been very costly for the company, both fiscally and on a trust level. Some of the issues revealed:
The script for an upcoming James Bond film
Tom Hanks used to check-in hotels under the name Johnny Madrid.
Alex Trebek considered quitting JEOPARDY! over a recent Kids’ Week kerfuffle
*Denzel Washington blacklist?
The journalism website Poynter has addressed the ethics of hacked email and otherwise ill-gotten information. It suggests:
Do additional reporting to verify the details. You must be sure it is accurate before you pass it along
Avoid distortion and instead ensure appropriate tone. This means watching your headlines, adjectives, and all the other details that give a particular piece of information a certain tone. When you add flavor to information, it needs to be appropriate.
*Add context, by seeking additional input or rebuttal from the relevant stakeholders. Context makes information more accurate.