The FBI still doesn't know precisely all the details about the massive hack of Sony Pictures, but they do know it was incredibly sophisticated. "[T]he malware that was used would have gotten past 90 percent of the Net defenses that are out there today in private industry, says Joe Demarest, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's cyberdivision -- and he added, and that the attack would probably have been able to challenge even state government,"
It seems pretty clear at this point that the attack was not done by North Korea, in retaliation for the release of Sony's film, The Interview, about two bumbling dunderheads hired by the CIA to assassinate the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. However, the country did release the statement, "The hacking into Sony Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea],"
I'm inclined to believe North Korea on this. I say that because, while a denial on its own is hardly evidence of anything, North Korea has such a legitimate grievance here that there's no good reason for them to deny involvement. First of all, North Korea has shown itself quite unconcerned with world opinion, so they certainly wouldn't care if other nations criticized them for a cyberattack. But second, if they did acknowledge involvement, I suspect they'd have a lot of understanding throughout much of the world.
In fact, I'm almost surprised that they didn't take credit for the cyberattack, even though not involved.
The premise of the film is so ghastly to me that I'm actually torn about whether to see it. I find a lot individual scenes in the movie about bumbling sort of amusing. And I like the two actors, who seem to be doing a good job of it. But I personally find the storyline so reprehensible that it's hard for me to go.
For all the people saying that it's just a comedy, it's just a joke, it's not real -- and obviously I get that, as a writer of movie comedies -- that's no defense on its own. There are good jokes and bad jokes. And all I keep doing is imagining the reverse: a movie from some other country, particularly a country we've declared a terrorist nation and part of the Axis of Evil, about two government agents coming into the United States to kill Barack Obama, or George Bush, or Bill Clinton, or Ronald Reagan when they were president. The yucks might don't seem so funny.
One of the afore-mentioned hacked email exchanges from Sony have shown discussion between studio head Amy Pascal and writer/co-director Seth Rogen about making a few very minor changes at the request of company chief executive Kazuo Harai, after getting objections from North Korea (. In one note, Rogen writes back that he's made as many changes as he can (really tiny ones) and saying that any more would mean, "This is now a story of Americans changing their movie to make North Koreans happy. That is a very damning story."
It really isn't. It isn't about making North Korea happy, and it isn't very damning. It's about not acting irresponsibly in the first place, and fixing a problem The scene in question, by the way, which Rogen was being asked to fix is where the North Korean leader is hit by a shell and his head explodes.
Sometimes it bad to cave to inappropriate requests. Sometimes, if the complaint has validity, it's okay to say, "Yeah, maybe we went too far. We get it..."
For all of Sony's seemingly trying to "tone things down," I think they look sort of idiotic here, but for another reason. Why didn't they raise any objections before making the freaking film in the first place??! Did no one read it? Did no one see that it was about killing the real leader of another nation. And that his head explodes? Did they not care? Obviously not.
I can see why Seth Rogen or any filmmaker wouldn't want to change their work, especially at the pushing of another nation -- especially one that's considered a terrorist nation. And the movie is probably pointed in being about Real People. But...but...c'mon. People get it if you make up a fake country name, and it doesn't hurt most movies or jokes. The Princess Diaries wasn't damaged because it was about a young girl becoming the heir to the throne of Genovia. Would it have been better and funnier if it was Monaco? The TV series Mission: Impossible was hugely successful for years as the team each week fought the bad guys in ficticious countries like El Cristobal. Charlie Chaplin made a classic film The Dictator even though the dictator wasn't named Adolf Hitler. Audiences got it. Would The Interview have been lessened so drastically if they had to assassinate the leader of the terrorist nation of East Singtao? Maybe some scenes wouldn't have been as funny. Maybe some would have been funnier. No, it wouldn't have been as edgy. But it might have been better. I don't know. But I do know if wouldn't have felt as thoughtless.
For all I know, The Interview might be very funny and reasonably innocent. But...boy, it's hard to see the "innocent" part. More to the point, though, if the story was the other way around, and the assassination target was here, it's near-impossible to think there wouldn't be understandable outrage.
And so I'm still undecided if I'll go see the movie. At the moment, I'm leaning to not.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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