This is a story about censorship. Or corporate responsibility. Or public safety. Or copyright protection. Or something. At this point, I don’t even know if the furor surrounding the Sony Hack can be branded cyber-terrorism, brilliant marketing, or cowardice. You probably know by now that Sony Pictures has essentially killed its movie The Interview, after threats from an anonymous online hacker collective called Guardians of Peace (that some suspect may have links to North Korea.) The response to the voluntary withdrawal of the comedy from theaters was predictable: outrage about the value of free speech in a democracy, and offers from some – including George R.R. Martin – to host private viewings of the movie. Salman Rushdie can only wish there had been social media 25 years ago.
Then came the inspired decision from some theaters to replace the planned showing of The Interview with Team America: World Police. “We’re just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation,” said James Wallace, of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Now, however, not even that act of saying ‘F*ck You!’ to the hackers will go ahead. Paramount has now canceled any showings. As Uproxx reports, “Paramount has put an end to any independent showings of Team America, because something is obviously happening that nobody is talking about.” Future historians will look back on this time and perhaps wonder how the guys who made Pineapple Express managed to ignite what just may be the beginning of the globe’s biggest cyberwar. In any event, the chance to attend the private showing of The Interview, if it happens, will no doubt become the hottest ticket in Hollywood, with bragging rights assured. As I write this, no doubt in a dark basement somewhere somebody is printing t-shirts with the slogan I Saw The Interview And You Didn’t, which they will sell online and make a fortune.