Thoughts on ‘The Interview’ Controversy

the-interviewOn December 25th, not only was the world going to be ready to celebrate Christmas – or to continue celebrating any of a number of other holidays – but several people were also looking forward to the release of Sony Pictures’ comedy The Interview, starring James Franco and Seth Rogan, of which the plot sees a pair of hapless foils sent to interview North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and tasked with the mission of assassinating the dictator by the US government.While the plot of the film may have stirred some sensibilities, Sony was forced to back out of the film’s release following a series of events that began with the November 24th hacking of the Sony Pictures network. This hack resulted in the release of countless pieces of sensitive information, but it also led many people to believe that North Korea – who had publicly denounced Sony’s ‘The Interview’, calling it “an act of war” – were behind the attack.

Ultimately, many major theater chains backed out of showing the film, some for fear of security due to terroristic threats. Others claiming that Sony did not have faith in the movie in order to further release, which prompted Sony Pictures to pull the plug on the Christmas release and ultimately claim that the movie would not see release at all.

Of course, after a storm of outrage, Sony has since relented and will ultimately release the film – time, date, and format to be announced – but the whole scenario screams of some kind of conspiracy to drive interest in a movie that – quite frankly – probably had very little interest up front. Additionally, many computer professionals are suspect that North Korea was even behind the Sony hack. Even the country itself has denied responsibility and wants to work with the US to find the perpetrators.

The one thing that irked me the most, however, on the whole subject was simply the course of events and the amount of artificial interest that has since been drummed up in The Interview. Like similar films with Franco and Rogen, The Interview was likely going to join the ranks of dumb-funny movies that may make a few bucks, possibly break even, but then be forgotten about in the annals of time. Thanks to these events, however, watching The Interview is almost an act of national pride – and I think we’re all getting played.

Over the course of a few days, interest in The Interview spiked dramatically, with people all over community and social media sites clamoring to watch the movie, many claiming that they’d buy multiple tickets just to essentially ‘stick it’ to North Korea, who the public felt was behind Sony’s actions. Even the President himself made a statement against Sony deciding to pull the plug on the film. But it seems convenient, doesn’t it?

Sony has successfully turned what was likely going to be a moderately successful holiday release into something of major consideration. If Sony and the various theater chains manage to release The Interview, it’s almost going to become an act of national pride just to go see it. Not only America, but every nation will feel like they’re “taking a stand” against an oppressive dictator by going to see The Interview, and Sony will make far more on this movie than they ever expected.

I don’t buy it. I don’t have any interest in The Interview, and I never did, and I don’t like the discomforting fact that people are so easily manipulated – even relatively smart people, people who aren’t usually flag-waving ‘Murica’-style knuckleheads. It’s disconcerting and disappointing that this would happen, and I don’t trust what Sony has to say about these events one bit.

It also ties into the controversy surrounding the Sony hack – the catalyst of this insanity – to begin with. Many people, including the FBI, are trying to pin this attack on North Korea, but professionals claim otherwise. Hector Monsegur, a former Anonymous hacker now working as a security researcher, claims that North Korea doesn’t possess the bandwidth to obtain the information this hack leaked.

“For something like this to happen, it had to happen over a long period of time. You cannot just exfiltrate one terabyte or 100 terabytes of data in a matter of weeks,” Monsegur told CBS This Morning. “It’s not possible. It would have taken months, maybe even years, to exfiltrate something like 100 terabytes of data without anyone noticing.

“Look at the bandwidth going into North Korea. I mean, the pipelines, the pipes going in, handling data, they only have one major ISP across their entire nation. That kind of information flowing at one time would have shut down North Korean internet completely.”

Additionally, even Evan Goldberg, co-director of The Interview, doesn’t think the North Koreans are responsible.

“For two seconds, it was the North Koreans,” Goldberg told straight.com. “and then the younger guys in our office who know way more about computers were like, ‘No way. You’d have to know Sony’s network, it has to be somebody on the inside.'”

There’s a lot of doubt to be had here, regardless of what the FBI is claiming, and it’s going to take a lot more convincing for some parts of the American public – and hopefully the rest of the world – to jump on the North Korea bandwagon.

Let’s face it, there are plenty of GOOD reasons to despise North Korea, especially when it comes to how they treat their own citizens. Hacking Sony? It’s not even close to the top of the list.

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