Congratulations, Guardians of Peace (and North Korea!) -- you've successfully prevented a "dangerous" Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy from getting released. But guess what? You've also made The Interview, which appeared to be just another slacker comedy from the Freaks and Geeks alums, vastly more important than it ever would have been on its own. That's what we in America call delicious irony.
Sony, in a move President Barack Obama has called "a mistake," has vowed never to release the film in any form -- no VOD, no special digital download -- but it's only a matter of time until it's on every torrent and illegal video-streaming site on the web. And how long do you think it'll be until it makes its way into North Korea? You've won this battle, but you've also ignited a war against censorship that could end up dismantling your fascist control of information. Also, didn't you realize people always want what they can't have?
Sure, The Interview will forever be known as the movie that hackers and one testy dictatorship killed. But really, it's never going to die. It'll be the film deemed too provocative for release. It might actually make more people aware of North Korea's horrific treatment of its people (e.g., rampant starvation, tens of thousands dying every year in prison camps and more!). Most importantly, it could be the film that, when taken together with all of the damage from the Sony hacks and the highly original 9/11 threat against theaters, may finally prompt a response to North Korea from the US government and the rest of the world. Sony may pretend The Interview never existed, per the final ridiculous demand from the Guardians of Peace, but this whole fiasco has made the film something the rest of us will never forget.
Sony may pretend The Interview never existed, per the final ridiculous demand from the Guardians of Peace, but this whole fiasco has made the film something the rest of us will never forget.
What scares me more than Sony's cancellation of the film is the cowardly responses we're seeing from other studios. Paramount Pictures shut down screenings of Team America: World Police this week, a 10-year-old film from the South Park creators, which many theaters were planning on showing instead of The Interview. And New Regency, a production studio co-owned by Fox and Warner Bros., pulled the plug on the Steve Carrell vehicle Pyongyang, which hadn't even started shooting yet. It's hard to blame Sony -- it was basically strong-armed into doing so because major theater chains refused to show it, and no big corporation would ever take a threat of violence against consumers lightly -- but these other studios are running scared before they even see a glimmer of a threat. You can bet this whole fiasco will dramatically alter the sorts of movies that get greenlit over the next few years. Don't expect something on the level of Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, a film that criticized Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime long before the US government, anytime soon.
At the same time, GoP, you've also lost. You've turned what would have been a harmless film into something that's gotten the US government thinking of a "proportional response."
So yes, GoP, as terrorists you've sort of won. Sony's knee-jerk reactions have set a precedent for how other big companies might react to hacker demands, and it's not a pretty sight. Now any group that manages to make their way into private servers can make whatever threat they want, and there's a good chance their victims will be forced to cooperate. If anything, this hack makes it clear that major companies can no longer half-ass their cybersecurity efforts. Sony already suffered a major attack against its PlayStation Network several years ago, and Sony Pictures apparently learned hackers were in its systems a year ago, so you'd think it would have been extra vigilant. And of course, we can't forget the major data breaches at Home Depot and Target, which gave hackers access to personal data (including credit and debit card information) from tens of millions of customers.
At the same time, GoP, you've also lost. You've turned what would have been a harmless film into something that's gotten the US government thinking of a "proportional response" against North Korea. And no matter how hard you try, everyone will soon be watching your dictator's head explode. (Spoiler alert!)
[Image credits: Michael Thurston/Getty Images (lede image); raindropstace69/Reddit (James Franco GIF); Sony Pictures (movie still)]