President Obama and George Clooney are calling it: Sony’s falling victim to cyberterrorism and canceling The Interview isn’t just about hackers taking down a raunchy comedy. It’s about terrorists winning against the U.S. and effectively compromising the country’s freedom of speech.
During his end-of-the-year press conference, Obama called Sony’s decision to pull the film a mistake and addressed what this forced censorship could mean for the future of storytelling through filmmaking, stating:
Sony’s a corporation. It suffered significant damage, there were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced. Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake…We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States, because if someone is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of somebody whose sensibilities probably need to be offended. That’s not who we are. That’s not what America’s about.
In an exclusive interview with Deadline, Clooney echoed the President’s statement saying:
This is a silly comedy, but the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this. That’s not just Sony, but all of us, including my good friends in the press who have the responsibility to be asking themselves: What was important? What was the important story to be covering here? The hacking is terrible because of the damage they did to all those people. Their medical records, that is a horrible thing, their Social Security numbers. Then, to turn around and threaten to blow people up and kill people, and just by that threat alone we change what we do for a living, that’s the actual definition of terrorism.
Clooney and his CAA agent Bryan Lourd had attempted to send a petition around to major Hollywood execs that would support the release of The Interview. However, not one person asked agreed to sign it, in fear of becoming a terrorist target themselves. Here is an excerpt from their petition:
This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands. We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.
In the interview, Clooney also mentioned speaking to Sony chairman Amy Pascal, who still wants to release the film. The actor’s solution calls for doing so in whatever way possible, even if that includes releasing it online, to continue to protect the United States’ values.
With the news that the FBI is now officially linking the hacking to North Korea, a country that’s been expressing their support for the crimes and threatening physical harm to the U.S. if the film was released, it’s even more imperative to consider Clooney and President Obama’s remarks. In Clooney’s words, “We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all fucking people.”
The Gossip Table has more on Clooney being the subject of some of Sony’s leaked emails.
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]