"I was very offended by the emails that were hacked... We’ll determine there whether we are going to join calls for her resignation or whether she is really, seriously going to deal with the fact that Hollywood really reflects a lot of what was said in that conversation. Right now, Hollywood is like the Rocky Mountains, the higher up it goes, the whiter it looks. I don’t know who’s behind the hack, but I know what I read on the hack. And I’m going to give her a lot of heck about the hack."
-- Al Sharpton on Sony co-chair Amy Pascal
It's been 72-hours since the world last heard from Al Sharpton, so you kind of knew this was coming. There was no way Sharpton wasn't going to insert himself into the controversy over a leaked e-mail conversation between Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin in which the two joked about black movies President Obama would probably like. Last week, Sharpton was already positioning himself as the official representative for Black America on the matter -- which as you know is a monolithic institution rather than one made up of millions of free-thinking individuals -- whose ring Pascal would have to kiss if she wanted to make amends for her sins. He released a statement comparing her to Donald Sterling, a move that drew an immediate phone call from Pascal in which she apologized profusely for making an insensitive offhand joke that was intended for no one but a close friends of hers and was only seen by the world because of an invasive criminal act.
About that criminal act and its devastating consequences, we should be clear here: Right now whether or not Al Sharpton is happy with her should literally be the very last fucking thing on Amy Pascal's mind. Her entire company is under siege. Its network of computers wasn't simply violated, it was sabotaged and Sony is now reduced to communicating like it's 1985. Every personal and proprietary detail of the inner workings of Sony is being leaked into the media bloodstream slowly, in what one expert cleverly compared to shooting hostages one at a time. Today the first of what will likely be a flood of lawsuits was filed against the company by two former employees who say Sony didn't do enough to protect their personal information from being hacked. And this is nowhere near over. Not by a long shot. (Update:No it's not, as Sony has now told theaters they can begin pulling The Interview if they choose after threats of violence were made against them by the hackers. Sony is also considering postponing or dropping the film altogether, which would be a financial disaster.)
It's difficult to effectively overstate the catastrophe this is for Sony. Oh yeah, and it's entirely possible this whole thing is an act of cyber-terrorism committed against a private company, based partially in the United States, by either the North Korean government or someone sanctioned by it -- all because Sony made a movie it didn't like.
But just for the hell of it let's go back to that comment by Sharpton. He says he's "very offended by the e-mails that were hacked." This is so wonderfully tone-deaf to the real transgression being committed here. To Sharpton it doesn't matter that private materials were stolen and made public and only because of that crime was he able to even see these e-mails and be offended by them. No, what's more important was the private conversation itself -- the conversation never intended for his eyes or anybody else's.
You want to know a secret that's not a secret at all? If your private thoughts, personal conversations and most unguarded moments were made public, you'd be fucked. None of us would hold up under scrutiny. Not one of us. Certainly not Al Sharpton. If the things we said to our closest friends were suddenly being broadcast everywhere, each of us would wind up apologizing until he or she keeled over dead (even though those apologies probably wouldn't be owed to anyone). The thought of having to worry about the things we say in what we assume are private interactions is infinitely more terrifying and offensive than a couple of Hollywood assholes making a racially insensitive joke via e-mail. The thought that those interactions might one day be circulated by high-tech home invaders, and therefore we can never let our guard down, is so much more daunting than Al Sharpton deciding he's found a new controversy to co-opt.
As for Amy Pascal, her job is definitely on the line right now, but make no mistake -- her fate isn't in Al Sharpton's hands. Whatever demands he may or may not make won't have a damn thing to do with what happens to her.