Is the Sony decision a blow to artistic freedom? – USA TODAY

There’s mixed opinion on Sony’s decision to cancel the release of ‘The Interview’ after threats from hackers. Some say it’s the safe bet while others, especially in Hollywood, think the studio is caving to the hacker’s demands. VPC

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
00:01 It’s a wrong move mostly. Because living BC came and
00:05 it demands a lot of that problem not only so it
00:07 was a good First Amendment thing or anything like that. Opinions
00:11 of moviegoers are split after learning Sony Pictures canceled a scheduled
00:15 Christmas Day release of the film the interview in the wake
00:17 of threats of violence from hackers. The decision came on the
00:20 heels of news US authorities determined. North Korea was behind the
00:24 recent cyber attack on the company if you want to kill
00:27 the leader of North Korea yes. University of Saint Thomas media
00:31 professor Kevin seltzer says he can’t collar similar phenomenon and it
00:35 bothers Americans to be threatened in this way it. It doesn’t
00:38 work very well with our general value system that we’re not
00:42 gonna let the terrorists win. But by the same token if
00:46 anybody ever called in a bomb threat was school her conservator.
00:50 Are a football game they probably would cancel the event or.
00:54 Engage in really heavy security. Many in Hollywood are outraged by
00:58 Sony’s actions Rob Lowe who’s in the film tweeting while everyone
01:02 paved the hackers one. An utter and complete victory for them.
01:06 Modern Stanley executive producer Amy zucker outing America will never give
01:10 into the demands of terrorists. They don’t like our movies in
01:13 which case we will public beach chair. Late night host Jimmy
01:16 Kimmel didn’t quite a while discussing the matter with Fox News
01:20 anchor making Kelly I hear you that does that the movie
01:23 distributors but what if it was the Christmas season they need
01:25 to make a buck there’s at the rat anybody got hurt
01:28 of course the Oilers would. At some backbone to do the
01:31 right. Kelly suggested Americans should support the film and I copies
01:36 of it on dvd your paper view. To show terrorists they
01:39 haven’t won. But at this point it’s unclear if anyone will
01:42 get that chance the statement from Sony said they have no
01:45 further released plans for the film.

Ben Stiller. Rob Lowe. Aaron Sorkin. Judd Apatow. Albert Brooks. Michael Moore.

High-powered Hollywood filmmakers, screenwriters and stars are slamming Sony for “caving” to terrorists by pulling The Interview from all platforms. They say the studio’s move is a blow to artistic freedom and to First Amendment rights.

Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin called it a “stunning display of corporate cowardice” in a blog post.

George Clooney and his agent Bryan Lourd sent around a petition to studio heads in support of Sony, but no one would sign it. “This was a dumb comedy,”Clooney told Deadline. “But the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this.”

“Sad day for creative expression,” tweeted Steve Carell. A movie he was supposed to start filming in March, Pyongyang, set in North Korea, was scrapped in the wake of the Sony situation.

“It’s already having a chilling effect,” notes Gavin Edwards, author of Last Night at the Viper Room, about River Phoenix. He says the Carell film was to be based on a book by Guy Delisle, “a sad lyrical comic book about a Frenchman working in North Korea on a not very good animated film. It’s sort of half travelogue and half portrait of being lonely, isolated in a place where you don’t know the language.”

It’s hardly a plot of killing a country’s leader, a la The Interview.

Alchemist author Paulo Coelho is taking the situation so seriously that he has offered Sony $100,000 for the rights to the film. He wants to post it on his blog for everyone to watch for free. Sony has yet to respond.

Offer to @SonyPictures stands till Fri 12:00 AM. You recover 0,01% of the budget, & I can say NO to terrorist threats

— Paulo Coelho (@paulocoelho) December 18, 2014

“Being a writer and an artist, I witnessed what happened with Salman Rushdie many years ago,” he tells USA TODAY in an e-mail. Rushdie’s novel Satanic Verses prompted Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini to pronounce a death sentence on Rushdie for insulting Islam.

“People were not being driven by this culture of fear that we see now. So publishers faced the threat, and some people died (I know a Scandinavian publisher who was murdered). However, freedom of speech survived.”

As a writer, he says, “freedom of information/distribution is important for me. When I posted that tweet, I was conscious that now I am also in the line of fire. But either you stand for your values, or you don’t deserve the freedom you have.”

Sony, he says, “created a dangerous precedent. The same thing may happen in the future.”

He also questions Sony’s motives. “I don’t think they were moved by protecting the people and theaters. Their main reason is, in my opinion, leaks that we started to see in the press — and scared them.”

What should Sony have done? “Stand for the American values: fight for your right to speak freely, and don’t negotiate with terrorists.”


Hollywood betrays team America: Our view


Sony Pictures plays with fire: Opposing view

Rachel Ehrenfeld, founder and CEO of New York-based American Center for Democracy, finds Sony’s reaction to the threat “appalling.” She also uses the words “unacceptable” and “outrageous.”

Ehrenfeld says, “We lost our first cyber war and we lost much more. We lost our freedom, our ability to speak freely — which makes the Unites States unique and different from every country. This is shameful.”

She says that the 9/11-type attack threat from the Guardians of Peace group should not have won out over “America’s right for free expression. It’s the most important value upon which America is based. Every writer and artist is in danger now — to say what we want, to make any joke we want, make any comedy we want.”

Yet Chicago attorney Andrew Stoltmann says Sony faced a big liability.

“Obviously you don’t want to chill artistic freedom, which would be a huge problem. But in the same sense, there is no question, Sony would have faced mega liability and a tsunami of lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny if something had happened at a theater. Yes, the artistic issue is important, but the dollars and cents decision if I’m a CEO or in the legal department of Sony is a pretty easy decision to make.”


Timeline: North Korea and the Sony Pictures hack

Steve Weisman, a professor at Boston’s Bentley University and an expert in cybercrime, is a little more tempered. “There’s a legitimate concern about the threat of 9/11-type violence, but I think that could have been dealt with (through) with enhanced security at theaters.”

He says, “North Korea is not a particular major world power, but look at the power they have here. To have us be so vulnerable to this kind of extortion when someone doesn’t like the topic of your art and your work is a frightening process for the First Amendment and art and free expression of ideas.”

Sony, he says, “could have anticipated this kind of thing.” He says it should be a “wake-up call” for all studios to beef up their cybersecurity. “Everything you’re going to see in art and a global village is going to upset someone these days.”

President Obama’s advice to us all came in an ABC interview Wednesday night: “For now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”

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