Day Nine, The Sony Hack: When I first watched Freaks and Geeks on NBC several years ago, I never expected that two of its stars would be at the center of a threatened terrorist attack. Behold, the faces of an international incident:
James Franco is a tremendous actor with endless charm and surprising depth. Seth Rogen is a born straight man who’s funniest when he’s bemused, and who does deadpan like no one else. They, along with the whole cast of Freaks, could have gone on to amazing careers. Stoner comedies must have been where the money was, though, because now here we are.
Sony Pictures’ The Interview was going to be a screwball comedy with a political twist, like something out of South Park or American Dad. Franco’s and Rogen’s characters travel to North Korea for a rare chitchat with the Great Leader Kim Jong Un. Before they head out, though, the US government sees an opportunity in these two numbskulls, and tasks them with assassinating the dictator. Wacky hijinks ensue.
Turns out North Korea’s government didn’t much care for this premise, so they apparently hired a hacker group called the Guardians of Peace to punish Sony for their misdeed. These Sneaky Petes broke into the studio’s computer network and grabbed almost everything they could find, from business and financial documents to personal emails, and scattered their plunder across the internet. In their calling card, the hackers warned Sony not to release The Interview in theaters, or else…something. The writers were pretty vague, and obviously didn’t speak English well, but they were savvy enough to invoke the holy date of September 11, 2001, and that’s a surefire way to put Americans off their eggs. Meanwhile, tabloids and TV news programs whooped with joy, and exacerbated the problem by further spreading the stupid gossipy stuff.
Sony Pictures was in a jam. What could they do? Should they can the movie, which would make them look like spineless cowards, and worse, eat the costs of production? Or should they thumb their noses at these would-be terrorists, release the film, and risk the bad press of slaughtered movie-goers?
Well, Sony capitulated. They announced the film’s cancellation, and that they had no plans to release it at any point in the future. Free speech advocates across the nation were outraged. Even the president shook his head. It seemed that North Korea had won.
Now we can only wonder what would have happened if Sony had stood firm. My guess? Nothing much. Probably the worst would have been the release of more juicy Sony secrets, but I can’t imagine that being of much interest to the general public.
I really, really doubt that North Korea would have the cheek to start a war with the US over a stupid movie, but…who knows, maybe they would. North Koreans do seem fanatical enough; what if they blew up a theater full of people in response to this movie? Right now the consensus is that Sony was cowardly to give in to the hackers’ threats, but if innocent Americans actually got killed over this, what would we say then? That maybe it wasn’t worth releasing the film? That Sony was reckless? Would we question whether the freedom of speech, as expressed in a dopey comedy movie, was worth dying over?
I hope not.
I think that, if North Korea started some shit with the US, and tried to tell us what’s what, Americans would get pissed, and line up for the chance to silence the annoying little nut-balls. And for once, I’d be behind the government in whatever retaliation it planned, because nobody is going to tell me what I can and cannot see or say in this country. Just so long as the incoming administration doesn’t hijack the campaign, and turn it into an excuse to invade China. If they do…well…Canada’s a pretty nice place to live, right?