Monday, December 22, 2014

"The Interview" being pulled from theaters in regards to recent cyber attack on Sony Entertainment

Last week, Sony Entertainment had a company wide cyber attack that revealed many personal emails of chief executives, directors, producers, actors, and other employees had a drastic impact on the company. The FBI however have connected this cyber attack to a North Korea, and specifically the group of hackers who call themselves "Guardians of Peace", which wanted to halt the release of the movie "The Interview" starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. This movie angered North Korea's leader Kim Jung Un (ABC News) because the plot of the movie was about two American reporters being sent to assassinate Kim Jung Un. Sony's decided to pull the plug on the release of the movie, and so did theaters companies, such as AMC theaters, who felt that they will be threatened and hacked by the Guardians and that their information would be stolen as well (ABC News). The Guardians have threatened to take and expose more information from Sony if "The Interview" is ever shown, released, or leaked in any form (NY Post). Many Hollywood celebrities are outraged by Sony's decision to pull the movie out of theaters before it is even released, saying that it shows weakness (CNN) and President Obama saying that "[He] wished they had spoken to [him] first" (The Guardian). Jokingly, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted "Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I'd also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers." He later added: "Oh, hackers, one more thing - I lost like $180K on [my film] 'Canadian Bacon.' Can u do the opposite of what u just did & get it back IN to theaters?"

I find this recent cyber attack quite disturbing, as do most people, thinking that Sony has shown weakness ti cyber terrorists and that they should have shown the movie. I also agree with the people who want the release of "The Interview" because it looked really funny, even though North Korea's leader didn't like it. Sony has gotten a lot of criticism for not showing its movie, and some theaters and people have volunteered to show it. With that much effort from other people and companies wanting to release the movie to the public on its expected release day, I believe Sony entertainment should stand up to these international bullies and show the movie. Even though the U.S. has more firepower, resources, and people to use, it is a waste of effort to use any of it on such a matter. The North Korean's could have taken this satirical movie and got back at the U.S. with a similar movie about North  Koreans coming to get our president, and we wouldn't have hacked them to stop the showing. This incident has shed some light on the new means of hacking that has not been seen before, and how our technologically connected planet can be targeted in new ways.



Questions:

1.What do you think Sony should have done in regards to this matter?
2. How do you think people will respond to this situation? Should they show the movie or not?
3. Should the president use his War Powers Act abilities to find and retaliate against the Guardians of Peace?
4. If Obama was running for another term (hypothetically if he could), how would this incident affect his reelection and how would his campaign staff have to help him?
5. Did you want to see the movie?


10 comments:

Brian Yee said...

In terms of the US government and not just Sony itself, I believe that the US shouldn't do more in response to the situation than they already have. To start off, the attack isn't too much of a threat but more of a nuisance. To start a cyberwar over this attack would just be to encourage more escalation in the situation. So to answer the third question, I don't think that retaliation would benefit the US in any manner and instead would lead to more conflict with North Korea. At this point, I don't think that Sony should show the movie. North Korea may perceive this as a counter-response and threaten the US with more "attacks." Simply, this would lead to more conflict and anxiety in the American public. However, hypothetically, if there were some reason the US had to retaliate, a study showed that the US could sanction foreign-owned companies that are supporting North Korea's economy/infrastructure. However, like I said before, at this point the US shouldn't retaliate as it might trigger more threats from North Korea.

Brendan Vroom 6 said...

I think that Sony's decision was definitely in self-interest, as the cancellation of the release is detrimental to the US' public image as a place that won't "negotiate with terrorists", but is definitely the right move for Sony because they don't want possibly damaging private information to be shared with the entire world. So, while I would love to have seen "the Interview" at its original release date, I think realistically, Sony needs to rid itself of this invasive cyber attack before it proceeds with the movie. In a perfect scenario, Sony is somehow able to combat the hackers and actually release the movie sometime in the near future.

Victoria King said...

I can understand why Sony decided to cancel the movie’s premiere. Better safe than sorry, even though North Korea is known for their usually empty threats (and some sources doubt that North Korea was behind the threats and the hackings). I actually feel very sorry for the dilemma that Sony faces. They just want to ensure safety for themselves and for those that want to see the movie, but on the other hand they have to put up with multiple criticisms from the public. This situation reminds of the shooting threat that occurred at our own school a couple of years ago. Fortunately in the end nothing happened, but no one could possibly tell what would happen, and so all of us—those who went to school and especially those who didn’t— were very cautious and alert. These reactions to a threat are the same in Sony’s situation, especially with a significantly larger population involved. But again, I realize that most people believe North Korea wouldn’t dare to actually attack us over a movie.
Although “The Interview” will not be shown in theaters, Sony has given permission to a few websites to release an online version of the movie. I think this is the best method to counter North Korea’s threats, especially since there’s no way for them to possibly track down and attack every single household or other areas for streaming the movie. Sony already backed out from a series of threats, but this online release will be their comeback.

Jacob Huth said...

So as of today it seems as if the film will be showing in select theaters, airing on it's intended December 25th premier (apparently cinelux in Scotts Valley if you're up for a drive). So for better or for worse, the film will reach the public against North Korea's well articulated wishes. While I understand that I common reaction to the initial cancellation was that Sony and the theaters simply bowed down to North Korea's threat, I agree with Victoria in that it was probably better safe than sorry, and I'm actually a bit wary of them actually releasing it, albeit on a much smaller scale than previously intended. While the threat is probably empty and now that the film will be shown, I doubt that much will happen, It would be unfortunate if something really did. From my understanding it was theaters that initially decided against showing the film, and once most of the larger chains did Sony pulled the film. In this case from a purely business point of view, I understand Sony's decision, but it does to some extent look weak.
In terms of retaliation, I don't think that some massive revenge would be in our best interests. This situation is somewhat reminiscent of the Cold War in that all out war with North Korea would be incredibly sub-optimal to the US and North Korea alike. I don't think that this particular incident will spark anything so catastrophic, but I don't think we can afford to be as heavy handed as we may feel entitled to be against North Korea.

Vito Gano said...

So, I recently saw the movie on YouTube and my recent remarks on the movie were filled with both praise and disappointment. Although I admire the satirical effort that Seth Rogen have placed in the film, I personally thought that the idea of making this film the biggest controversial film of all time gave me a sad note that it wasn't as controversial as what other people expected the film to be.
(Spoilers Contained)
This idea of uncovering Kim Jong Un's identity as a normal human rather as a god to the people of North Korea than killing the Supreme Leader itself gives me that note that the producers of the film never intended to want Kim Jong Un to be executed but rather to expose him from the face of propoganda. We can relate it all to North Korea's excessive use of propoganda and how they try to sugarcoat the facts by showing the world its great side of North Korea. The one scene which exemplified this example was when Skylark went to a grocery store when he saw that the store was a lie and the kid that was standing outside eating was a lie too. Well, set that aside, watch The Interview and see for ourselves what the producers wanted to show to the public and to the land of North Korea.

Eddie Huang said...

Given the fact that a wide number of independent theaters decided not to show the movie in their theaters at the release date, Sony had little choice but to cancel the release of the movie to movie theaters. (http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/sony-hack/sony-cancels-interview-release-after-theaters-drop-out-while-fox-n270281) The threats made against them had little credibility, and it would not have not been in the company's best interest to cancel the movie's release based solely on those, as it would be tantamount to accepting that empty threats from an isolated, hermit country have the power to control the company's actions and suppress free speech. However, despite the perceived lack of credibility to these threats, security measures would be necessary.

Sony's decision to release the movie online was, in my opinion, the correct decision. Despite the refusal of a large number of independent movie theaters to show the movie, their refusal to completely drop the movie over intimidation because of a hacking scandal, and release it through other avenues instead, sends a more appropriate message to the perpetrators that their intimation was futile. Ironically, this entire episode actually gave the movie a notable amount of prominence; the media coverage of the hacking scandal and the movie will actually likely cause a larger audience, something that the hackers likely did not intend.

Streisand effect anyone? (If you don't know about it, read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect)

Jordan Kranzler said...

I agree with Sony's action. While I am sympathetic to the views of President Obama when he says we shouldn't show North Korea that they can basically censor us overseas, I think that you really can't blame Sony because the cancellation was partly in response to a lot of movie theaters refusing to screen the movie -- this is not really something Sony can control. And they still put it on YouTube, so it showed we weren't really being censored. I think people will at least be happy that they can see it easier. I don't think he should do that; the whole goal is to avoid belligerent actions on part of the North Koreans, and I don't think that that would be the best plan keeping that in mind. Honestly, I don't think this incident would be super consequential for a presidential election since the major action involved in the incident was done by a private company, not the president, and I think people would understand that.

Antony Cabuslay said...

This isn't about an American show of strength and power; Sony is a private company and acts in its own best interest. That being said, Sony is a company based in Japan, meaning True Korea is a viable threat, unlike it is here in the US. An attack on the company on Japanese soil is much more likely than it would have been in Hollywood, since True Korea does have the technology to strike there. The whole "they wont try anything because we can nuke them to the stone-age" argument hold much less weight when you're gambling with your entire country, which is even stupider if youre doing it to watch a garbage movie nobody cared about until the attacks. Personally I doubt the North Koreans are even capable of a cyber attack of this caliber, but that's all speculative conspiracy thinking on my part. To answer some of the question, showing the movies is entirely up to the independent operators, should they or shouldn't they is up to whether or not they believe it makes business sense to do so, not a political statement. I'm not sure if the War Powers act applies here, since I'm not entirely sure if cyber attacks are considered an act of war, but there have already been retaliations towards the North Koreans.

Wesley Lee said...

While some argue that Sony's decision to remove was a sign of weakness, it has shown to be one of the largest marketing ploys that Sony has pulled. The uproar that the media has generated had turned a pretty mediocre movie (with 52% rating on rotten tomatoes http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_interview_2014/) into an international phenomenon. Even though many theaters decided not to show the movie and it only pulled in $1 million in the box office on opening night, Sony has released the movie for purchase and for rent online so the profits are estimated to be much larger. This is an example of a company taking advantage of an international situation and swinging it in it's favor.

Ben Maison said...

What's interesting is that, at this point, the blame is much more up-in-the-air than it was a week ago.

Despite an abnormally large amount of piracy over the holidays, it was still resorted to have made over 15 million on online distribution alone. Although this is not a case touting the norm for media distribution, it does prove that people watch a new film online en masse.

Seeing Mitt Romney come out to say that it should be released for free really made me laugh though. Seeing Mr. Businessman ask for a free release of a multi-million dollar production, even more so a mediocre stoner comedy, was definitely a high point to recent news.