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Mind Your Business: You Have Already Lost Your Freedom of Speech and It’s Sony’s Fault

According to Mark Simon, Sony’s actions have cost us one of our most cherished rights – freedom of speech.

*Editor’s Note – since Mark finished this article, Sony has decided to release The Interview online as a paid YouTube rental or purchase beginning December 24. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

You can no longer say or do what you want in the United States. It’s already happened.

Do you care about the Sony hack? Do you care that Sony pulled The Interview from distribution?

You should. It has already affected every one of you.

Because of Sony giving in to the hackers, we have lost one of our most cherished rights, the right to free speech…or to put it plainly, we no longer have the right to say whatever the fuck we want to, and we also can no longer watch whatever we want.

I’m not saying this is going to happen. It’s already happened.

Sony has fucked us all. Now they are trying to dig out.

Sony's choice to cancel the release of The Interview is scary. It's much scarier than the threats that caused their actions.

This has opened Pandora's Box of threats from anyone who doesn't like a movie or a book, or an app, a piece of art or anything else.

Here’s a thought. If you don't like a movie...don't see it. Pretty damn simple. But get the fuck out of my way so I can see it if I want to.

Any political or religious nutbag now feels they can shut down someone's expression with an email threat. That's scary.

Everyone in the entertainment industry stands to lose, or has already lost. Freedom of expression has already lost.

If you don’t think it isn’t already too late, ask the crew of Steve Carrell and Gore Verbinski’s thriller to be set in North Korea what they think. New Regency has scrapped the movie and Fox declined to release it. This happened within a day of Sony canceling distribution of The Interview. Over 200 people instantly lost their jobs on just that one project. More are likely doing the same.

Some asshole steals some documents and sends a threatening email and within a day, in America, this happens:

  • Every major theater chain drops The Interview
  • Sony pulls The Interview from distribution
  • Sony declares it will not release The Interview in any form
  • New Regency scraps a North Korea movie
  • Paramount pulls distribution of Team America (because it makes fun of N. Korea)

Do we now have to get rid of Rocky 4 because Russia doesn’t like it?

What about Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Lots of Arab and Muslim countries banned the movie, but it was released here in the U.S. anyway.

Iran didn’t like Zack Snyder’s 300.

Slovakian officials hated Hostel.

Kazakstan hated Borat. And then they ironically loved it. (Proving why movies should not be censored)

James Bond: Die Another Day. That dealt with North Korea too. Should we burn existing copies just because that baby-fied Kim Jong-Un might be offended? Why should we care what he thinks?

Religulous pissed off lots of Christians.

Should we censor all these movies?

If this keeps up, the only villains we can have in print or movies will be rich, white, American men. Sure, some deserve it, but are we going to kowtow to everyone else?

Is there a danger to showing The Interview? Maybe. Doubtful. But, it’s worth the chance.

I’m not saying the movie is worth it, I’m saying the fight for the right to show the movie is worth it. We can't be shut down because someone doesn't like it. That's their problem.

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So what should Sony do? Let’s look at the ongoing issues.

Their employees’ private info is threatened. You can’t trust a terrorist. You have to consider that the info they already have will be released no matter what you do. It’s already too late.

Hopefully Sony has already hired a company to protect the personal identity info of every employee affected.

More damaging emails will come out. Release the rest yourself, Sony, and remove the threat. If you don’t want this to happen again, stop being a dick. Don’t act like an ass in emails, or at any time actually. If you’re not a dick, you don’t have to worry about your correspondence being leaked.

Threats against theaters. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security has said it’s not a credible threat. But Sony can hire security for inside and outside theaters in big cities. Theaters need to stand strong and protect themselves as well. Backing down will instantly hurt them too.

Remember, North Korea can’t even launch a bottle rocket properly, and you’re worried that they can hurt a theater in Podunk, Arkansas? Get a spine and grow some balls.

You think that giving the terrorists what they ask for ends the problem? Think again. They are now empowered.

Immediately after Sony pulled the movie, the terrorists wanted more. “We want everything related to the movie, including its trailers, as well as its full version down from any website hosting them immediately.” They also demanded that it never come out on DVD, PPV or VOD.

Welcome to a lifetime of subservient servitude to other countries!

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For those of you who are thinking, “It’s easy for you to say all this, you’re not the one being threatened. What do you know about it?”

A lot actually. My life and my family’s life was threatened years ago. I stood against the gang and fought back in court. I was attacked. My car was run off the road. I saw my parents attacked in my front yard. Death threats were posted on our house and cars every day. We stood firm, fought back and won. Then I got 3 businesses and 7 other families to also use the courts to fight against the same gang using the same strategy I used. I got rid of the problem by dealing with it head on.

When you let someone threaten you and beat you, you lose not only that one time, but forever.

Sony, if you fight back, you help not only yourself, but others as well. You can be the hero here, but you have to take strong, decisive action. NOW.

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Sony CEO Michael Lynton declared on December 19, 2014 that “We have not caved.”

Wrong. They did cave and the entire world knows it. For a person running a media conglomerate, he seems to forget that perception is reality.

When Sony yanked the movie from the theaters, they said it was because the distributors had pulled it and they had no choice. Actually, Sony handed the distributors that choice with how Sony handled it, giving the theaters an easy out, thinking that Sony could blame their actions on the distributors. Nice try.

There are hundreds of independent theaters and smaller distributors that would have loved to carry the movie, especially with all the free publicity. If I could show it at my house I would and I’d make a fortune.

Then Sony announced that it had ‘no further release plans’ for the movie. They were pretty clear that they were burying the movie.

So when Lynton says they did not cave, he should read their own statements. However, I’m glad to see he’s starting to stand up and may release the movie after all.

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Sony, if you want to make this right:

  • Protect your employees and their private info
    • Lifelock or IdentityGuard would be a good place to start
  • Release your own emails
    • Take away their power
  • Tell the terrorists to go fuck themselves
  • Release The Interview
  • Work with theaters to provide a feeling of safety for movie viewers

Regency and Fox also need to grow a pair and reinstate their North Korean movie. Actions speak louder than words. So get to work.

If Sony does decide to release the movie, I will be first in line at the theater that runs it. I will be the first to buy the DVD, or the VOD.

All it takes is a crack in the armor to spread and take something down. We can't let this be a crack. If Sony doesn't have the balls to release the movie, someone else should. We need to show every terrorist that they can't control what we see or read.

If you don't think this is a big deal, you're delusional and partially responsible. This not about if you like the movie or like Seth Rogan. It’s about giving up the choice to make that decision for yourself. It's a huge deal and it affects all of us. It affects us right NOW.

Let Sony and the distributors know you disagree with them. Send your letters, make those calls, create emails. Stand up now...or kneel forever.

It’s a fucking comedy people. Are we going to give up our rights of speech because some spoiled dipshit in North Korea got his feelings hurt over a satire?

Grow some balls or give them up.

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Mark Simon has written 10 industry books, www.MarkSimonBooks.com, and he has a course on how to use Storyboard Pro at www.Lynda.com/MarkSimon. He’s worked on nearly 4,000 productions and speaks around the world. Oh, and he’s pissed off about what’s happening in the industry.

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