Nobody wants to own the place where something horrible happens–and nobody wants to be there. It’s not good for business. Terrorism isn’t always the bomb that goes off, it’s the looming threat that one might. And the Sony hackers are practicing terrorism, however much leaked gossip about Leo DiCaprio’s emotions obscures the fact. The Landmark Theater Sunshine Cinema that was to host the New York premiere of The Interview has pulled the plug on the event. Theaters all across the country are also dropping the film from their holiday lineups, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Interview, with a plot that centers on the assassination of the current North Korean leader, is the reason for the attack on Sony.
“Today’s threat against moviegoers is unconscionable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice,” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement. That’s true, but the present reality on the ground is that the hackers have forced movie theater owners to drop the comedy. And the hackers have also been successful at intimidating individual theatergoers from attending in places where the film remains available. It’s not your right to vote that’s being threatened–brave people might ignore intimidation and risk their lives to get to the polls. Instead it’s your right to see a slapstick comedy that in a few months you’ll be able to watch on your sofa. It’s a purely financial attack on Sony and it’s likely to work. Don’t be surprised if the hackers announce that they will track who rents the film on Netflix–and deliver consequences. They traffic in fear, and they are good at getting the information they need.