Writings

Hollywood Cyber Wars


December 22nd, 2014

Season’s Greetings, everyone! It’s time to gather with family, exchange gifts, and wonder how Hollywood could give in to terrorists at Christmas, completely ignoring the lesson from Die Hard.

In case you missed it, Sony Pictures planned to release a new film called The Interview, in which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is killed by the 21st century Cheech and Chong. The fearless-in-theory-only leader wasn’t too happy with that plot, so his crack team of malnourished but tech savvy henchmen hacked into Sony, released some private emails, and threatened worse if the movie was released. Sony backed down.

It should be noted that a group calling itself “Guardians of Peace” took responsibility for the attack, not North Korea. Some authorities on this side of free speech even say the cyber hit was orchestrated at a fraternity in Virginia. But since Rolling Stone isn’t in the national security business, the FBI has narrowed it down to North Korea and a maniacal Gary Busey.

Honestly, I don’t know if I’m more disappointed in Sony or in the fact that Liam Neeson actually can’t make a phone call warning bad guys of a certain set of skills.

I have to hand it to North Korea, though. I didn’t think Hollywood was vulnerable to anything not named San Andreas or scientology.

It’s pretty remarkable. Usually when another country makes news in Hollywood, it’s because Angelina Jolie adopted a kid from it. Not anymore. Imagine if the Soviet Union knew these rules when Rocky knocked out Ivan Drago. What about Egypt? Did their leaders see The Mummy? Did they care that their beloved mascot was defeated by a mortal Encino Man? Probably so, but they thought themselves powerless. Oh, how wrong they were.

This is no small matter. Think about it. North Korea has totally changed the landscape of Rotten Tomatoes. Giving a film one star or a thumbs down used to be the worst anyone could do as a consumer, whether or not they’re a dictator. Okay, there’s also the dreaded message board, where a person’s hate is directly proportional to his disregard for spellcheck. But that was it. Now, if you really don’t like a film, you can hack into a company’s computer network and completely shut it down, shoplifting Annie on your way out the door. Will the sun come out tomorrow? I’m not so sure. Have you ever seen North Korea? The sun comes out about as much as a new hairstyle.

As I’m writing this blog, it seems that news is being updated by the minute. Apparently there was some sort of cyber retaliation, and all of North Korea was offline on Monday. That could mean a number of things. We could have zapped their networks. We could have reported their behavior as “inappropriate” to Facebook. We could have simply hit them with sanctions, which in this case means no more freeloading WiFi from a Starbucks in Seoul. Whatever the case, it’s getting uglier than the eighth page of a Google search.

I don’t know what to expect, but if Kim Jong Un and the Kim Jong Un backup dancers want to play hardball over a silly satire, so be it. Even if he wants to negotiate, I hope we send someone who is familiar with both Hollywood and the mind of a someone who could snap at any moment. Ambassador Busey — I like the sound of that.

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