President Obama Says Sony Shouldn't Have Pulled 'The Interview'
by Ethan Anderton
December 19, 2014
This morning, President Barack Obama participated in a news conference regarding the cyber attack against Sony Pictures after the FBI had officially made a statement implicating North Korea was responsible for the hacking of the motion pictures studio, the leaking of their documents and files online, and also the threat that resulted in Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg's comedy The Interview being pulled from a Christmas Day release in theaters in the United States. We've officially reached a place where foreign policy and the entertainment industry go hand in hand. But Obama simply wishes it was handled better.
First of all, Sony Pictures decision to pull the film was not the right decision. Obama said, "I wish they had spoken to me first. I would have told them do not get into a pattern in which you're intimidated by these kinds of criminal attacks." And while the president indicated that he understands the pressure that Sony has been under due to the leaks of their business documents and files, not to mention employees' personal information, he still says, "I think they made a mistake." Of course, we can't entirely blame Sony since it was the major movie theater chains pulling the film that contributed to the decision not to release the film at all, since it seemed pointless without the majority of movie theaters playing it.
But still, the response has been misguided and unfortunate, and it could give way to more drastic attacks and sacrifices. Obama said during the news conference:
"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States. Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don't like or news reports that they don't like.
Imagine if producers and distributors and others started engaging in self-censorship because they don't want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended."
Yeah, that sounds scary as hell, and that's exactly what's been happening since this threat gained traction. Paramount Pictures should also be getting a stern talking to by choosing not to let theaters play Team America: World Police in place of The Interview. We're not allowed to watched a decade-old movie with puppets for fear that it might piss off this crazed dictator with no real power. That's insane. Obama only addressed the issue that has arisen with Sony Pictures, and the overarching message about living our life and regulating our art based on fear "That's not who we are. That's not what America's about."
But in reaction to what seemed like a victory, the hackers seemed to show mercy on Sony. Or maybe they asked for more. There are conflicting reports on messages sent to Sony following their decision to pull The Interview from release. USA Today reported that Guardians of the Peace issued this message last night:
This is GOP.
You have suffered through enough threats.
We lift the ban.
The Interview may release now.
But be carful.
September 11 may happen again if you don't comply with the rules.
Rule #1: no death scene of Kim Jong Un being too happy
Rule #2: do not test us again
Rule #3: if you make anything else, we will be here ready to fight
But then CNN is reporting that a different message was sent that commended Sony for being "very wise" not to release the film, but then asked for them to continue to comply, "Now we want you never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy. And we want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately." It's not clear if one of these messages if falsely from Guardians of the Peace or if there's some miscommunication somewhere, but either way, this continues to be a messed up situation.
And since has now been revealed to be the work of North Korea, the United States will not let this action go without some kind of retaliation. Obama said the country would retaliate somehow, but was not ready to give specifics. The president said, "We will respond, we will respond proportionally, and in a place and time that we choose. It's not something that I will announce here today at this press conference. In this interconnected digital world, there are going to be opportunities for hackers to engage in cyberassaults both in the private sector and the public. Now, our first order of business is making sure that we do everything to harden sites and prevent these attacks from taking place." Stay tuned.