Thursday, December 18, 2014

Whatever Happened to "The Show Must Go On?"

There’s an old saying in show business…the show must go on. Unfortunately, this old saying comes with a twenty-first century addendum…unless you get threatened by hackers.

Yesterday, a day where being a Communist made a comeback, not only did the 60 year embargo on Cuba get lifted, but a handful of pajama-wearing, basement-living geeks managed to bring Sony Entertainment to its knees. Ten days ago, they hacked into Sony’s computer system, demanding that the upcoming movie, “The Interview” be cancelled. Yesterday, Sony capitulated, giving the anonymous hackers everything they asked for. Revenge of the Nerds, indeed.

The ransom note left by the hackers reads like the assembly instructions that come with those entertainment system cabinets you buy at Target. Apparently, North Korean doesn’t translate well to English:

remember the 11th of September, we recommend you to keep to keep yourself distant from the places at that time…Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Entertainment has made, then the world will be full of fear…All the world will denounce the Sony”

This stinging rebuke comes from a country whose people subsist on sticks and berries.

Still, on a day where Regal Cinemas announced their refusal to show the movie in question, Sony followed with a full retreat, pulling the film from every movie theatre in the world. This, despite the fact that the FBI finds zero evidence of any active threats to any cinema in the United States.

Before all the hubbub about “The Interview,” this movie would have appeared dead last on my “List of Things To Do Before I Die” list. But when I see naked cowardice and capitulation it serves to give me an insatiable appetite for horrible movies. If I ran Sony pictures, I would have been handing out free tickets! If I owned a Cineplex, I would be giving out free popcorn and drinks to anyone who showed up. I would make it my avowed goal to break Gone With The Wind’s 70 year old box office records. Then I would take out full page ads in every newspaper from Variety to the New York Times saying…Dear North Korean Hackers,…..Kiss My Ass.

This is not who we are in America, or at least, it’s not who we used to be. We love liberty, we cherish our freedom, yes even our freedom to indulge in terrible films. We have always gotten highly annoyed when anyone tried to censor art. And while The Interview isn’t exactly Hamlet, this is America. If we want to spend our money watching a comedy about the CIA hiring a couple of Hollywood types to go kill a dictator in North Korea, well…that’s our business.

Today it appears that personal safety trumps liberty and freedom. The mere possibility of violence is enough to send corporate types into the high grass in fear of lawsuits. We used to be made of sterner stuff. Imagine what we would have done in the 40’s had Hitler vowed violent attacks on anyone going to see Casablanca? Suppose the Soviets had threatened death on anyone daring enough to pay money to see Dr. Strangelove back in the 60’s? It would have been laughable.

But here we are in 2014, losing a huge battle in the Cyberwar, to a bunch of computer hackers.

Merciful fathers.