What Sony, North Korea, and hackers taught us about movies
By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. January 6, 2015
Terrorist threats, computer hackers, and harsh critics have all failed in killing The Interview this holiday season.
While the North Korean government is still bitter over the Christmas release, viewers rejoice knowing that we can all move on to award season without further controversy from the lacklustre film. Our freedom is still intact. We watched a movie without being executed. We won—sort of.
After all the buzz and scare, it’s safe to say that the movie will become a forgettable political satire. The Interview was pretty much Pineapple Express with a sympathetic villain, Kim Jong-Un. I’m not sure what the terrorists and hackers expected, perhaps a defamatory representation of their “god,” but the fact that they made us worried—even for a little bit—is a violation of our rights. For a moment there, we were intimidated. And we should never be intimidated in such a coercive manner.
Obviously President Obama’s statements after Sony pulled The Interview from theatres will not be the most memorable moment of his term, but it’s good to see that they wasn’t bypassed either. Censorship is a dangerous power, especially in a society that harbours freedom of speech. Enabling some foreign government to control our right to document, report, and create art to establish discourse is something every media company should be wary of, but shouldn’t give in to.
The whole scenario is a laughable one now, perhaps even funnier than the movie itself. I hope that Sony is no longer afraid of North Korea, and I hope other private media companies have learned from the incident and fortified their networks as well.
The fact that a movie can be considered a threat says a lot about that nation and the fact that we wavered when threats were uttered says a lot about us too. However, we’ve rebounded with grace and innovation, even teaching some of us to purchase and rent movies via online streams; meanwhile North Korea is shooting insults at the American president, using racial slurs and poor turns of phrase.
Although it was a bit annoying, it was also reassuring to see all the support on social media after The Interview was pulled from major theatre chains. It’s good to know that so many people out there understood the circumstances. It’s good to know that we are not easily swayed by terrorist threats. Sure safety is paramount, but doing something just because someone has a gun to our head is cowardly.
But then again, perhaps Sony already knew about all this. Perhaps, it was all a big publicity stunted written by a supreme leader and orchestrated by a corporate behemoth. The Interview will forever live in infamy. There will be college courses teaching the events of this film in years to come. Maybe Sony knew this. After all, the movie made over $15-million during the holiday weekend and ranks number one in online Sony films.
The Interview was not a threat; it’s a cinema-distributing pioneer. Because of it, YouTube and Google Play are now big players in the feature motion picture game. If there is going to be a censorship war, it’s going to take place in cyberspace, not in the movie theatre.