If you want to read probably the single most insightful and intelligent piece of commentary on the cyberterrorism attack that devastated Sony, got The Interview dropped and struck a dangerous blow at the heart of our freedom of expression, read what George Clooney has to say. In a newly published interview with Deadline, Clooney not only not only dissects the actions of the hackers with a pretty startling amount of clarity, he explains how he tried to organize a united front in Hollywood to stand against the demands of the attackers. Unfortunately, as we’ve learned over the past 48 hours, Hollywood wouldn’t be willing to stand up to a Boy Scout troop trying to hold it hostage with a banana to its head.
In the interview, it’s revealed that as the hacking crisis was ramping up, Clooney and his agent at CAA, Bryan Lourd, drew up and began circulating a petition that was more like a declaration of defiance. Remember, this is George Clooney we’re talking about: a man who says, “Jump,” and people both in front of the camera and behind the scenes in every corner of Hollywood say, “How high?” And yet, astonishingly, not one person was willing to sign. Not. One.
Here’s what Clooney wrote:
On November 24 of this year, Sony Pictures was notified that it was the victim of a cyber attack, the effects of which is the most chilling and devastating of any cyber attack in the history of our country. Personal information including Social Security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the full texts of emails of tens of thousands of Sony employees was leaked online in an effort to scare and terrorize these workers. The hackers have made both demands and threats. The demand that Sony halt the release of its upcoming comedy The Interview, a satirical film about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Their threats vary from personal—you better behave wisely—to threatening physical harm—not only you but your family is in danger. North Korea has not claimed credit for the attack but has praised the act, calling it a righteous deed and promising merciless measures if the film is released. Meanwhile the hackers insist in their statement that what they’ve done so far is only a small part of our further plan. 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.
But they didn’t stand together. They cowered like children.
Not only is Clooney revealing the effort he made to save The Interview and stiffen Hollywood’s spine, he’s explaining why it’s so important to do so.
“What’s going to happen is, you’re going to have trouble finding distribution (of new films)… And that’s a chilling effect. We should be in the position right now of going on offense with this. I just talked to Amy (Pascal, co-chair of Sony) an hour ago. She wants to put that movie out. What do I do? My partner Grant Heslov and I had the conversation with her this morning. Bryan and I had the conversation with her last night. Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie. That’s the most important part. We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all f*cking people.”
Clooney also has a theory about why the hacking unfolded the way it did. He believes there was a method behind dumping the personal e-mail accounts of people like Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin into the media bloodstream early.
“Here’s the brilliant thing they did. You embarrass them first, so that no one gets on your side. After the Obama joke, no one was going to get on the side of Amy, and so suddenly, everyone ran for the hills… This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made. Quite honestly, this would happen in any industry. I don’t know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal. A huge deal. And people are still talking about dumb emails. Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren’t even paying attention.”
In one of the final questions in the one-on-one, Clooney is asked what the government “owes Sony” in the wake of the attack — what action it should take.
“The truth is, it’s all new territory and nobody knows how to handle it. I don’t think anyone was prepared for it. So now we’ll be prepared for it, hopefully. Everybody was doing their jobs, but somehow, we have allowed North Korea to dictate content, and that is just insane.”
George Clooney 2016