Wow, this hack on Sony just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and worse and worse—unless, of course, the downfall of Sony makes you happy. But even then, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll feel the ripple of effects of this massive breach in ways none of us want, such as censorship. Today, the latest round of posted information—a “Christmas gift,” according to the hackers—went a step further than any of the previous ones: this time, the hackers are threatening anyone who sees Sony’s The Interview, a satire about two journalists (Seth Rogen and James Franco) who are hired to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Here’s what today’s message said (grammatical mistakes and all):
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.
For those of you who may not have been following this, a group called the Guardians of Peace (oh, the irony) hacked into Sony’s computers a couple weeks ago, infecting them with potent malware, and getting access to a whole slew of info, including movies yet to be released, which they uploaded onto the internet for folks to see for free. They also got access to a bunch of celebrity information, which has been plastered all over the web.
All of that stuff is horrible for Sony, no doubt, but for folks like us, it doesn’t do a lot of damage. Some people have voiced support for the hackers, including Glenn Schwartz, president of a Los Angeles public relations firm, who says the Sony hack reiterates the importance of personal communication by phone and in person, rather than doing everything digitally. “[T]his could be the best thing to happen to our generation of conversation-challenged people,” Schwartz argues. “If sending a colorful, conversational or nasty email becomes a danger, then perhaps we will all have to start talking again.” I can see Schwartz’s point, and it’s tough to feel sympathy for a giant media corporation, but since Schwart’z op-ed, the Guardians of Peace have crossed the line.
Mentioning 9/11 is a low blow. There’s no way to mention that event in the context of a threat and also simultaneously insist on doing something good, right, or fair. If North Korea is responsible for the Sony hack, the worst thing it can do is to put the U.S. on high alert, or to make its actions seem anything akin to a threat. North Korea has been volatile enough in the past few years, and if it wants to engage and humiliate Sony, fine. I’m not all that beat up about the leaked torrent files, either, the latest of which is called “Christmas gift: Michael Lynton” (Sony’s CEO) and includes Lynton’s personal emails. But if it wants to provoke fear in Americans or engage the U.S. military, well…that seems pretty foolish.
The good news, though, is that The Interview premiered in Los Angeles last week without incident. Still, co-stars Franco and Rogen have cancelled media appearances in the wake of these new threats. They still plan on attending a scaled-down New York screening of the movie on Thursday. Sony is hemorrhaging money, with more to come—a couple former employees are suing the media giant for “failing to protect employee data.” At this point, I can’t help but wonder how much worse this will get. I also can’t help being a little afraid about the answer to that question.