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.

It’s A Despicable Me Giveaway!

Despicable Me Premium Package \ Image: Sony DSC
Despicable Me Premium Package \ Image: Sony DSC

Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 are popular movies in my house. I’m not sure if it’s their cuddly appearance, their obsession with bananas (ba-na-na-na) or their loyalty to all things evil, but minions are some of my favorite people in the world.

To celebrate all things despicable and minion alike, we’re hosting a Despicable Me giveaway!

Starting today and running till Wednesday, December 11th, you can enter to win one of three Despicable Me 2 prize packs. One lucky reader will win the premium package which includes:

  • 1 Blu-ray Combo pack of Despicable Me 2
  • 1 DM2 Fart gun
  • 1 Dave plush
  • 1 Stuart plush
  • 1 DM2 umbrella
  • 1 DM2 beanie
  • 1 DM2 pen
  • 1 sheet of DM2 stickers

and two lucky readers will win runner-up giveaway packs which include:

  • 1 Blu-ray Combo pack of Despicable Me 2
  • 1 Dave plush
  • 1 Stuart plush
  • 1 DM2 umbrella
  • 1 DM2 beanie
  • 1 DM2 pen
  • 1 sheet of DM2 stickers

To enter our giveaway, just login to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win). You can then like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for up to two entries! If you already like/follow us it will still enter you in the giveaway. A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest. The winners will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.

So what are you waiting for? Click the link below for a chance to have your very own fart gun in your home (and if that isn’t enticing enough, you get the movie too!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Take Away Your Camera’s Mirror

Sony NEX-5
Image Courtesy Sony

Point and shoot cameras are okay, but they really don’t take the kind of awesome photos you can get from dSLR cameras with interchangeable lenses.

At the same time, those cameras are so huge that you really have to want to take one with you. They have not only huge lenses, but a huge camera body. Even though the camera itself has moved to the digital age, the mirror has stayed as if we just slapped some electronic sensors on the back of the same camera design we’ve been using for decades. But now there’s another choice.

Let me explain a little. On dSLR cameras, the d stands for digital, and the SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. The camera has a series of mirrors that lets you see through the lens when you look through the viewfinder, and the mirrors go up out of the way when you snap a shot to let the camera sensors record the image. You can also swap out lenses for a variety of shots or effects.

That has a couple of inconvenient side effects. It means your camera body has to be big and bulky enough to house those mirrors, and it means that although you can change lenses, you can’t always change them between brands of camera body, since some of them would require the lens to be closer to the camera in order to focus.

Enter the mirrorless cameras. There are a couple of competing technologies here. Olympus and Panasonic use what’s called “Micro Four Thirds,” and Sony uses a different system, but they work pretty similarly for us end users. You end up with a less expensive, lighter camera with what appears to be a comically oversized lens. They’ve also been around long enough that you can find sales and deals.

Mirrorless Advantages

Because there’s no mirror, the body of the camera ends up being very tiny. That means it’s easy to carry around, but it also means your adapter only needs to mount lenses away from the camera body to use them. You can find adapters for all those dSLR and SLR lenses you have around or find great deals on through eBay. You can’t use auto-focus features from a lens you’re using with an adapter, so keep that in mind before you cheer too loudly.

Because you’re not reliant on a viewfinder, you can hold your mirrorless camera out from your body or over your head and look at the display screen to make sure your photo is framed correctly. The back screen of some cameras have adjustable tilt, so you can still get a clear view of the screen from odd angles. This is fantastic for shooting photos at crowded press events, anime conventions, or science fairs.

Of the models I looked at over the summer, Sony had the smallest body. I tried several out in the store, and I went with the Sony NEX-3, even though it had a slightly less comfortable grip than the NEX-5 and has less resolution on video recording. I was actually leaning toward the NEX-5, but I happened to find an open box model for the NEX-3 at the local Best Buy. Score!

 

Image I shot at Maker Faire from the Sony NEX-3

Mirrorless Disadvantages

Are your shots going to end up looking as great as they do from a fancy dSLR? Probably not. There’s still a small gap in quality, although that will probably decrease in future years. I can still take some fantastic photos, but I still end up with a few more blurry shots than I would with a dSLR, and it doesn’t perform nearly as well in low light situations. (Bad news for the convention costume contest.)

The lenses, although interchangeable, are still pretty pricey, so if you get more than one lens, as I did, you’re still looking at spending more than $200 over the initial camera price. On top of that, there’s not a huge selection of lenses being offered for these cameras right now. With Sony, there are pretty much only two choices. Hopefully they’ll announce more in January.

You’ll also find that camera accessories are designed for either point-and-shoots or for large camera bodies. My camera swims in the camera bag I used to use with my old SLR. At the same time, it’s still much larger than a point and shoot, so this isn’t something you can slip in a jacket pocket like you can with your phone or a compact point and shoot.

Video

An interesting thing seems to have happened to the video camera. I know a lot of folks who shoot video, and many of them have stopped using dedicated video cameras. You can shoot video on most (if not all) of these video cameras, and it usually ends up looking pretty great. Get a tripod and big enough memory card, and you really don’t need to buy another dedicated video camera. If you want to shoot video, look for a camera that allows you to hook up your own mic.

Bottom Line

If  you’re like me and not a pro photographer, but you do need to have better quality photos, a mirrorless interchangeable lens system is a good compromise. You end up with a camera light enough to hold in one hand, and you can still get good shots. This summer when I went on vacation, I took my Sony NEX and the smaller 16mm wide-angle “pancake lens.”  I stored the camera in a camera bag insert that fit inside my purse, so there was no separate camera bag to schlep around and advertise to the world that I was carrying a camera.

I handed my daughter the camera several times, and she ended up getting a purple ribbon at the county fair for this picture:

The Heart of Paris
Shot by my daughter

I’m not sure I’d have trusted her with a heavy dSLR, but then she’s never learned how to use a viewfinder, so I’m not sure she would have gotten the shot. In her world, cameras always use the display screen on the back, and they usually also make phone calls. Eventually, that will be our world, too.