It’s been a rough month for Sony Pictures Entertainment, to say the least.
First came the calamitous hack, then came damaging leaks, which were amplified by massive media coverage and, finally, the withdrawal of “The Interview” from theaters (and any other kind of release).
All of this was unavoidable. But what came next wasn’t.
News of the pullout was greeted by a flurry of derisive tweets from high-profile talent who ripped the decision for many different reasons. Comedy stars should know a thing or two about bad timing, but it came across as insensitive given that the studio — as well as the exhibitors — were trying to do the right thing.
Take your pick of the nitpicking (some excerpted below): An act of cowardice. A victory for censorship and a loss for freedom of speech. A bad setting of precedent that invited other terrorists to do same.
They’re entitled to their opinions, but they’re being short-sighted. Given that the scope of this cyber-attack is uncharted territory not just for Sony but for the entire country, proceeding with caution was the right call.
Think what you want about Sony did, but is there anyone who really believes the studio didn’t have honorable intentions? Sony was faced with a no-win situation: Keeping the movie in theaters risked a tragic incident that, even if chances were minimal, would have been an economic disaster for the entire movie business had the hackers made good on their threat.
Yanking the film, one could argue, was actually the more selfless move that contained the damage to Sony, which can kiss its marketing spend goodbye at a time when it actually stood to gain from all the publicity surrounding the controversy. Studios with competing films at the box office may want to send a thank-you note.
But rather than drone on any longer on this subject, let’s take it on a tweet-by-tweet basis.
. @JuddApatow I agree wholeheartedly. An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent.
“Cowardice” is an offensive criticism, Jimmy, considering Sony and the exhibitors were just being prudent given the threat risk. Had they put “The Interview” in theaters, they could have faced an even harsher criticism: that they were being reckless given the known threat.
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) December 17, 2014
Sorry, Bill, but this wasn’t a random teenager calling in a bomb threat at his local high school to get out of a math test. It’s a dangerous nation-state that already proved its capability to pull off a sophisticated cyber-attack, which made the potential for a violent outbreak worth taking seriously.
I feel you, Steve, fear is never a good thing. But it can be a sensible reaction in the face of a very unpredictable threat. There seems to be a lot of wounded pride out there because North Korea scored a victory, but this war is far from over, and there should be hope and optimism that justice will prevail in the long run.
Canceling "The Interview" seems like a pretty horrible precedent to set.
— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) December 17, 2014
I see your point, Zach, but is there really a line forming behind North Korea now of rogues who have such pressing grievances with movies in Hollywood’s development pipeline that they’re ready to attack us over it? Don’t bet on it– this is a unique situation. Safety should take precedence…over fears of setting a precedent.
Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I'd also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers.
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) December 17, 2014
No offense taken, Michael. Finally, a tweet on which we can all agree.