The past few weeks have been a turbulent time for Sony. A hacking group calling themselves The Guardians of Peace began a cyber-terrorism campaign, breaking down servers and stealing documents, scripts, films, and emails from the company. Some of these emails and documents were private exchanges between Sony employees, and have been the source of all the recurrence of Spider-Man in Civil War rumours (which was old news and is still not going to happen), as well as some insulting remarks made against various celebs which has resulted in embarrassment for those involved. Disregarding the ethical questions regarding the news sites who published the emails (who seemed to think it was fine as Sony are a big company and deserve some flak – thus ignoring the very human aspect of people who believed their conversations were personal), the whole experience started to grow out of hand when medical insurance records had been hacked, and families of Sony employees were being drawn into the threats. When the hackers released a statement threatening doom to cinemas who screen the film, The Interview, with comments such as, “We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time,” it was the last straw for the major cinema chains in the US who refused to screen the film over the security risk involved.
In the past 24 hours Sony have made the decision to pull the film from release, and that includes home release also.
It is genuinely a sad day for the industry when a distributor can be bullied into not releasing a film. What makes it sadder is the, &Oh it looked rubbish anyway,& comments being thrown out by people who don't actually understand the significance of it all. The precedent is set, and pretty much every film made can cause offense to someone somewhere. Don't like the idea of a black stormtrooper? That's fine, start hacking and threatening now and you might stop it. Bond is sexist? Get going with the hate campaign and threaten to blow up cinemas. Feel that the Fast & Furious films promote high pollution cars that damage the environment? Get on it keyboard warriors.
You see, any 'cause' can now follow suit, and aim to cripple production of any film that bothers them. Already one film has been scrapped (a spy film which was going to star Steve Carrell), how many more will follow? I've said this before elsewhere, but must stress that there are people who have lost money in the form of income from this, not just corporate profits, but writers, camera crew, sound engineers, and all the other folk involved in making a film. Real people now without work due to a film being cancelled early in production.
Whilst I have also been throwing out some jokey memes online around it all (after all, humour is a very human reaction to difficult situations) I still see the bad precedent this has all set. From the start of the leaks onward I have commented on the genuine concerns all the actions of the past couple of weeks raise. Now it has proven to be a genuinely terrible moment for the industry.
So to those saying the film looked rubbish anyway and it is good it has been cancelled, I leave you with the words of Martin Niemoller.
& In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist...
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
...then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew...
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.&