News of the cyber attack on Sony Pictures reads like an epic James Bond thriller. The hackers claim to have more than 100 Terabytes of data. They’ve already leaked several versions of unreleased films, thousands of confidential and compromising email exchanges involving top Sony execs, and personal information on famous people.
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All told, the hack will end up costing Sony a small fortune and a great deal of embarrassment. And all this over a Seth Rogen and James Franco action-comedy called “The Interview” about a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
While my moral compass tells me it isn’t right to play into the hands of criminals who are now making terrorist threats against moviegoers, I’ve had a few revelations about Sony that don’t involve some of the more salacious stories being reported by the page-view hungry media that simply can’t pass up a good train-wreck.
Sony’s Micromanaging CEO Scrutiny
There were several email exchanges between Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai and co-head of Sony Pictures Amy Pascal where Hirai got into all sorts of gory details while asking Pascal to tone down a scene where Kim dies a gruesome death and delete it entirely from international releases.
Since when does the chief executive of a $75 billion corporate giant get involved in that level of detail? This is not a billion dollar blockbuster but a $44 million spoof that’ll barely make a dent in the company’s bottom line, especially now.
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I don’t know if this is micromanaging or political correctness, but either way it’s dysfunctional. After all, American presidents both real and fictitious have been depicted in film in every imaginable way. Why the scrutiny over the brutal dictator of a rogue nation?
No wonder Sony can’t seem to get its turnaround act together.
Giving in to Cyber Terrorism
After canceling its New York premiere, allowing cinema chains to opt out of screening the film, which they promptly did, and letting Rogen and Franco cancel planned interviews to promote the movie, Sony finally went all the way and pulled the plug on the movie’s planned Christmas Day release.
All this in spite of the Department of Homeland Security releasing a statement saying, in part, “there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.” The cyber bullies appear to be achieving their demands with little more than a few scare tactics.
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It’s sort of surprising how quickly Hollywood crumbled in the face of a hacker threat. What happened to that good old American courage we so often see portrayed in movies?
Documenting Disingenuous Duplicity in Writing
Everyone from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Lois Lerner of the IRS have had embarrassing and potentially incriminating emails come back to haunt them. For years I’ve been writing about how otherwise smart and accomplished people document their stupidity in writing. Do they listen? Nope.
While I’m not going to do the hackers’ bidding by feeding the sensationalist media monster with quotes of what Sony’s Hollywood executives had to say about the talent they throw megabucks at and the president they publicly adore, I will say this. As leaders within a once-great tech giant, their disingenuous duplicity stinks.
Speaking of which, it’s truly sad to see that Sony’s reaction to the hack includes sending threatening letters to news outlets, as seen here. I don’t fault them for seeking to protect their confidential information and intellectual property. But to be fair, the media circus hasn’t done nearly as much damage as Sony has done to itself in this debacle.