So Sony pulled The Interview. Americans are pissed off about being deprived of their god-given right to watch a [probably bad, but I’ll never know] comedy that was intended to outrage the very people it outraged. It’s at least worth considering the possibility that canceling an event in reaction to threats of violence isn’t totally nuts. But let’s stop for a minute and think about what Americans aren’t much pissed off about:
- Our computer networks seem to be about as secure as a bag of money left in a taxi cab. It’s not just musicals about orphans [whoops, foster children] and comedies about vicious dictators. Our credit card information has been stolen repeatedly, but that doesn’t seem to bother people nearly as much.
- While Americans are outraged when they are unjustly inconvenienced in their movie-viewing choices, in other parts of the world, people are frequently terrified to send their kids to school or to visit the market for fear of a deadly attack [remember the Peshawar school massacre? That happened TUESDAY?]. This doesn’t mean Sony did or didn’t do the right thing [though you must admit, schools have been closed on equally vague threats in America, because do you really want to be the one who made the wrong call?], but it reflects what might be called American privilege: obliviousness to the injustices and harsh realities faced by People Who Are Not Us, simply by virtue of the fact that they live in places where our military goes TO, not where it comes FROM.
- If by some chance the North Koreans did decide to mount an attack on an American movie theater, obtaining assault rifles with which to do it would be the LEAST of their problems. Because FREEDOM.
- In a world where a foreign power breaks scandalous Hollywood stories via cyber-espionage that dominate endless news cycles for weeks on end, our formerly respected news outlets can no longer be bothered to fact-check their own investigative reports. [See this and this.] This is not to say that our news outlets should commit cyber-espionage. Just that they should make a serious effort to offer something better.
- North Korea. The actual North Korea. Do all the people tweeting their ire at Sony even know the truth about North Korea, let alone ever stop to think whether it’s the appropriate subject for light comedy? Did Seth Rogen and James Franco ask a human rights activist what he thought of their movie idea? If they had, this is the answer they might have gotten: “But it takes no valor and costs precious little to joke about these things safely oceans away from North Korea’s reach. When a North Korean inmate in a political prison camp or a closely monitored Pyongyang apparatchik pokes fun at Kim Jong Un and the system he represents—that is an act of audacity. It very literally can cost the person’s life, and those of his or her family members. To pretend that punchlines from afar, even in the face of hollow North Korean threats, are righteous acts is nonsense….North Korea is not funny.” [Adrian Hong]