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We’re going to talk about the overall topic in the next episode, which should go live tonight or tomorrow, but The Interview and Sony’s decision to cancel its release has been the biggest story of the week and the rare one that bridges the gap between entertainment news and real news. And it’s always a bit frightening when that happens, because it can lead to things like the President of the United States of America speaking fondly about stoner heroes James Franco and Seth Rogen (a Canadian, no less!) during a press conference.
Besides calling Pineapple Express the most important film of the last 20 years (it was implied), President Obama also took off the gloves when addressing the Sony hack scandal and The Interview‘s cancellation. That wasn’t surprising, but it was surprising to see him rough up Sony over their decision to bench the film after receiving terroristic threats from a group of hackers that have been linked to North Korea. In his remarks, the President said that Sony, “made a mistake” and said that he wished that the private company would have consulted him.
Here’s a full quote, courtesy of CNN.
“We cannot have a society where 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’ll do when they see a documentary that they don’t like, or news reports that they don’t like — or even worse, imagine if producers or distributors or others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended,” Obama said.
“So, you know, that’s not who we are. That’s not what America’s about. Again, I’m sympathetic that Sony as a private company was worried about liabilities and this and that and the other. I wish they’d 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,”
The President also spoke strongly about the need to persevere in the face of terroristic threats, referencing Boston’s decision to run the Boston Marathon the year after the Boston Marathon bombing.
With Obama publicly wagging his finger at Sony and the North Korean hackers threatening further action if they release The Interview in any way, the question is, will Sony push back by justifying their actions in the face of growing public dissatisfaction with the precedent that has been established, or will they push back and release the film via VOD or on DVD despite fears about these threats? Time will tell, but I don’t envy the person who has to make that decision.
As for what the US response will be to North Korea’s actions, the President refused to give specifics (for obvious reasons), but did say that there would be a “proportional response”.