Cyber terrorism, North Korea, Sony, extortion, free speech, The Interview, international relations, journalistic ethics, cyber security… can it get any better than this?

Implausible – a C grade comedy movie The Interview about two hapless TV journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate a sitting world leader North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

Appalling – Sony’s capitulation to terrorism and extortion and the horrific precedent leaves speechless any advocate of free speech. Who would have thunk it?

What Happened?  Poor judgment closely followed by really bad judgment.

Poor Judgment.

Imagine a large Chinese film studio produces a comedy where President Obama is mockingly portrayed by a bumbling black buffoon of a man who has no business running a country and is flamboyantly assassinated. Americans would be rightly offended and would cry racism followed by widespread condemnation of both the studio and the movie. Although Americans may accept lampooning themselves, much of the world does not. This was not the first depiction of the killing of a living international leader: Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” about Adolf Hitler, and “Team America: World Police,” about former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The difference? Now you can attack the film studio without bombs and guns.

Really Bad Judgment.

Capitulating to demands of “someone” which, by many accounts, may be multiple groups posing as the “Guardians of Peace.” Even President Obama chastised Sony as doing “the wrong thing when it backed down and pulled The Interview in the face of North Korean hacker threats.” Ignoring the $44 million to produce the movie, by caving to the “Guardians of Peace” Sony emboldens other hackers to harass companies with the expectation of similar results.


Win-Win for Capitalism and Free Speech Sony could have released the movie online through its own streaming service Crackle and distributed it through Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, iTunes, or any one of the other online video services. By reaching more people, safely, Sony could potentially make more money than in theaters. Many would have watched / bought online just to snub the North Korean hackers. And, in doing so, Sony could possibly turn negative press into positive PR.

Good Call – The Theaters.

The theaters made the right decision not to show “The Interview.” Although the Department of Homeland Security dismissed the emails as not credible, the theaters were forewarned. As Tilting reported in a January 2013 article “Have Gun, Will Travel: Owner’s Liability to Patrons for Violent Acts,” the best, and perhaps only, viable defense to the movie theater that suffered a mass shooting was that there was no past history of violent acts and no violence had been threatened.

Tilting the Scales in Your Favor.

Better to use sound judgment at the beginning, than try to catch up later. Poor judgment can be forgiven. Poor judgment followed by really bad judgment is hard to overlook.


Previous Tilting Articles: