A Leak of Their Own: An Ambivalent Perspective on the Sony Hack

The_Interview-Poster-Preview (1)

I only want to see this more now. Image via Screencrush

A few weeks ago, following threats from North Korea over the upcoming release of The Interview, Sony’s records were hacked and a shit storm commenced. What was once both harmless and hilarious in a voyeuristic way has now become a disaster that has nearly brought an entire studio to its knees. Oh, the hyperbole!

It all started when a steady stream of the leaked information was released by the media. Nobody seemed to have a problem with it at all. This week, after a series of hacked emails started to personally affect people’s careers, the backlash began. On Sunday, Aaron Sorkin penned a letter in the New York Times that mainly blames the media for distributing this stolen information and thus giving more power to the criminals who stole the information in the first place. You’re not wrong, Aaron Sorkin, but it seems a little convenient to post a critique of the media on the exact same day that your show The Newsroom, which is a critique of the media, was having its series finale.

While the idea that anything I write privately could be shown to the world terrifies me deeply, that doesn’t mean that I am not amused by any of the leaked information. On a purely objective scale, this has provided the most in-depth look at the movie industry in a long time. A lot of modern entertainment journalism is basically glorified PR.  Just look at the email chain between Scott Rudin, Amy Pascal, and several others regarding the planned Steve Jobs biopic. It shows that making a movie is hard and before anyone can even set up a single light kit, a bunch of producers, agents, and studio executives have to yell at each other for a while. This is a narrative we never see, and it is much more interesting than any DVD commentary where the actors pat themselves on the back.

Seriously, I don’t feel good about having seen any of this. In the end, the big names are going to be fine. Every celebrity who was insulted will have a box of chocolates and a Lamborghini waiting for them at their door step. However, I don’t know if I can say the same for many of the other people who would not make headlines that were impacted by this horrible cyber security attack. Show business is big, and there are countless production assistants, marketing directors, and accountants employed by Sony who are probably living in fear right now. But I am not a good person; I laughed hearing what everybody thought of Adam Sandler. I then laughed seeing Channing Tatum’s email about 22 Jump Street. And I laughed even harder seeing a powerpoint of themes in the Smurfs movie. Even Tropic Thunder couldn’t come up with something that good.

Maybe this all shows that there needs to be more transparency in Hollywood. That is not to say that all private emails should be made public. It just seems strange that a business filled with public figures should be so heavily guarded. I also don’t think it is completely fair to pin this all on journalists. Freedom of speech is endangered as is, and this whole event seems like another excuse to limit it. Let’s not use this as a way to forward agendas. Speaking of agendas, one actually useful piece of information this hack revealed: Sony’s close relation with the MPAA. Stopping piracy is a good thing, but seeing how close studios are to the ratings board worries me. You see, some of this actually is news that can start useful conversations.

This is all over the place. I have no idea what I am saying. This is a mess. Studio executive is turning against studio executive, and journalist is turning against journalist over our inability to just look away when some forbidden fruit comes to light. The hackers wanted chaos and in that regard, they have won. I think we all need to take a moment to give Sony credit. They are literally putting everything on the line for a bold and original idea. This kind of risk-taking doesn’t happen that often in Hollywood anymore. It is sad to think that after this, they might have to go back to banking on safer bets like Smurfs sequels so that hey don’t piss off anymore angry despots.

In the meantime, while the hackers cause chaos, let’s throw it back in their face. As the world burns, we can all just sit back and laugh at the fact that terrorists want to wage a war over a comedy that has a Guy Fieri cameo in it.

Here’s an interesting perspective on the leaks from Time.

Disclaimer: It has not been 100% confirmed that this leak has anything to do with North Korea. But…come on.