Open Letter: Sony, You Can and Should Do Better

Cropped image of <em>The Interview</em> movie poster. Image by Sony Pictures
Cropped image of “The Interview” movie poster. Image by Sony Pictures

Dear Sony,

I’m really not a fan right now. In fact, I’m really disappointed with your recent decision to completely stuff The Interview into a drawer.

I can no longer support a company that completely cancels a movie’s release because of threats and hackers.

I have many reasons. One of these reasons is: If the various places for which I do contract work let me go because they’ve been attacked for hiring me, I’d have much less work. Instead, these places—one of which includes this website–have increased support and circled their wagons around me.

And now, only hours after the announcement was made that you are pulling The Interview from both theaters and video-on-demand release, there are many reputable sources who are pulling apart the claims that North Korea is behind all of this hullaballoo.

To quote Vice President Biden, “What a bunch of stuff.”

Individual GeekMom writers are split on how they feel and what they think about your decision, Sony. Some understand this decision because they worry that some lone wolf, not from North Korea, would use this heightened sense of danger as an opportunity to pull another Newtown massacre. While others think threats, like the Newtown massacre, were already present and almost anything could set a lone wolf off. Individual GeekMom writers are also split on whether or not they believe it was North Korea, and believe unnamed sources in the CIA quoted in the media may not be trustworthy.

However, it is the opinion of this writer that we cannot give into threats. And big companies, like you, Sony, have huge resources that can pay for the best internet security and firewalls, and can properly rally around those who have signed contracts with you. Instead, we get—to paraphrase: we [Sony] are all about free speech and freedom of expression for our writers and directors, but we have chosen to stifle what we believe.

This sets a very bad precedent, and opens the door to bigger threats and more entertainment companies pulling out of existing contracts because they think the subject matter is too risqué.

Over the last few years, several Canadian government buildings have been the subject of terrorist attacks, including a lone wolf gunning down a guard at our federal Parliament building, and a thwarted Canada Day bombing a la Boston Marathon, on the B.C. Legislature building. Instead of giving in to the terror, we chose not to give in and continue our lives as normal. Obviously, this colors my opinion.

And if GeekMom as an entity, who has little resources compared to you, Sony, can rally around me when I’m doxed, and are willing to endure horrible attacks because I write for them, then, Sony, it is my unapologetic opinion that you and other big corporations can—and must—do better.

To completely pull out of any type of release of The Interview is… gobsmacking. There are more options than video-on-demand from which to choose. Why not release it on Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and many more online release options? Do you not understand how much revenue that would bring in?

Sony, you’ve let the supposed terrorists* win. I can see a future where no films that challenge certain ways of thinking will be made in Hollywood. You’ve basically said, “Sure, we believe in free speech and all that jazz, but we are completely opened to selling out to the highest bidder.”

If you can swallow the cost of producing The Interview, then you can definitely swallow the cost of setting up better internet security.  Sticking your middle finger up to other corporations and not just supposed terrorists by releasing the movie by other means instead of letting them  stifle your freedom of expression—something you claim to be all for—will benefit you and  take away profits from those other corporations’ that refuse to show the movie.

As one GeekMom said, “If [Sony] decided to make the movie, they have no need to cancel it. Of course, North Korea was going to be pissed off. Of course “something” was going to happen. With the [North Korean  leaders’s] ego, they weren’t going to sit idly by. But if [Sony] decided to make it, [Sony] already decided.”

In short: Sony, you made your bed, now lay in it. Don’t punish audiences and Seth Rogen because you’ve decided to create a complicated bed.

Sony, you can and should do better! You’ve lost me, and many others, as a customer.

Signed with much disappointment and sadness, but without regret,

Jules Sherred

*It is my personal opinion that these supposed terrorists are home-grown hackers who finds it quite entertaining when groups within a country becomes frenzied over any supposed threat.

Vintage Tomorrows Connects Steampunk, Makers, and the Future of Technology

Vintage Tomorrows cover, O'Reilly
Vintage Tomorrows cover, O’Reilly

Often we do, quite literally, judge a book by its cover. And like the cliché implies, sometimes what’s inside is so much more than what we expected. I certainly don’t mean to imply anything negative about the cover of Vintage Tomorrows–in fact, it was the cover that first drew my eye. What I didn’t expect was 383 pages that connected so many dots for me, so many of my interests that I had no idea were related, much less that they could all draw lines back to steampunk.

The book’s subtitle, A Historian and a Futurist Journey Through Steampunk Into the Future of Technology, summarizes as well as so few words can what’s to be found inside, but what it really gives you a glimpse of is the duality of the co-authors, one looking back and the other looking forwards. James Carrott is the historian half, but also was once the global product manager for the Xbox 360. Brian David Johnson looks into the metaphorical crystal ball to see technology’s future for Intel. The title of the first chapter, “A Futurist and a Cultural Historian Walk Into a Bar,” gives you a good idea of the tone of the rest of the book (much of which was imagined over pints of beer). It’s an academic tome with distinctly non-academic language. In referring to steampunk as “‘postmodern’ like nobody’s business,” Carrott notes, “and I hope never to use this word again in the course of this entire book (scary, bad academic things happen when one invokes such demons).” I wholeheartedly agree.

Continue reading Vintage Tomorrows Connects Steampunk, Makers, and the Future of Technology