The U.S. government may have a policy not to negotiate with terrorists, but that doesn’t mean Sony can’t. The company has just done something unprecedented: given theaters permission to pull the new Seth Rogen and James Franco movie The Interview from screens this Christmas. This comes in the wake of an ominous threat made by those who claim to be behind the massive cyberattack that’s devastated the entertainment giant.
In a message reportedly posted Tuesday on Pastebin, a text-sharing site, the alleged hackers invoke the specter of 9/11, promising retaliation against anyone who sees and anyone who shows the film North Korea has dubbed an “act of war.” Here’s the full statement:
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.
In response to this, Rogen and Franco have canceled all upcoming promotional appearances on the talk show circuit, the New York City premiere has been called off and, according to the Wall Street Journal, Sony is even considering postponing or pulling the film altogether. Carmike Cinemas, which has 2,623 screens across the country, is reportedly already taking Sony up on its offer and is dropping The Interview from its theaters, says Variety.
The Department of Homeland Security says it knows of no credible threat against showings of The Interview, but the idea that a group of hackers which seems to be functioning either in conjunction with or simply on behalf of the North Korean government would threaten American lives is shocking and extraordinary. This was always as much an issue for the United States to confront as it was for Sony and it has now escalated to apparent threats of terroristic violence.
Since late November, hackers have systematically crippled Sony’s computer network company-wide and unleashed a torrent of personal and professional information stolen from it into the media bloodstream. It’s been a catastrophe for Sony, resulting not only in public embarrassment and costly violations of its proprietary materials, but the potential for lawsuits — which have already begun — resulting from the leaked information of its employees and associates, past and present. It’s also shown us how dangerous cyber-warfare is and how vulnerable we possibly are to being plunged into chaos by cyberterrorism. If you only thought of hackers as mischievous nerds or anonymous crusaders for good up until now, hopefully this will finally change your mind.
Somebody brought an entire company to its knees and is now threatening Americans’ lives. To quote a really terrible movie Sony produced, “Shit just got real.”