Monday Morning Critic – The Sony Leaks, The Fappening And The Emerging Nexus Between Hypocrisy & Privacy Debate

MMC

The big story that’s been popping out everywhere in the past couple weeks has been the massive hacks that have been targeting Sony Pictures. It’s apparently coming from North Korea, mainly because someone’s ticked about the Seth Rogen/James Franco film The Interview, and Sony is being targeted in every fashion. It’s the Sean Hannity dream for releases; all of the dirt of running a studio in modern day Hollywood is coming out. If you’re someone who makes a living in part by ranting about Hollywood’s politics not being to your liking, and wanting ammunition to make your audience echo your thoughts, this has been a freaking goldmine.

What has come out so far isn’t pretty and if you do a quick search you can find a handful of Sony films that have yet to come out already in the usual sources. On top of being a PR nightmare this is going to be a fiscal one, as well, if The Expendables 3 leak is a preview for the sort of damage to a film’s box office an early leak can provide any sort of potential look at what a full on leak will do to a film’s box office.

Sony has had reports of production shut down, dispelled by Deadline, and there’s reports of an even bigger release coming on Christmas Day. So far there’s been a lot of digital ink spilled with all the dirt coming out, as Sony has gone from getting a black eye to taking a full on dick-kicking, but one thing hasn’t come with all these leaks. After certain outlets flaunted the disobeying of a judge’s order to take down a sex tape obtained through dubious means, there hasn’t been the same reaction to this story as there was to the big story of 2014 before this that covered similar grounds of privacy and famous people: the Fappening.

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I don’t have any relevant pictures this week … but man
this film is awesome. And out on DVD. So watch it, yo.

And the fact that violating the privacy of Sony, and its employees, isn’t generating similar outrage as the leaking of a multitude of celebrity pictures astounds me. In an age where we went completely postal when the NSA surveillance program was revealed, and demanded our privacy from government snooping, the debate on what is truly private (and what isn’t) has been one of the defining ones of this year. From “revenge porn” on down the nature of privacy, and the change in how we view in the brave new world of the internet age, has profoundly changed since the world went digital.

We should be stark raving mad at the Sony leaks instead of just shrugging. Why? Because it’s just as bad, perhaps even worse on certain levels, than the leak of naked pictures of celebrities. It also illustrates one of the problems of the modern journalist on the: the nexus of hypocrisy and privacy. We have no issue going to war to defend the privacy rights of individuals when it comes to their most intimate moments. But the emails of corporate movie executives?

The attitude seems to be “Oh well, they’re worth lots of money anyways.” It’s a “screw ’em” kind of attitude and it’s alternately amusing and disgusting to me.

As much as I am loathe to defending a company like Sony, or any company period, the one thing I think we have to have a consistent approach to is privacy. It’s one thing to leak trailers, et al, as we at Inside Pulse are willing to link to things that are leaked but always pull them when asked. Newsworthy sometimes means that if a trailer gets leaked, or a poster and perhaps images from a major event come out online, we post it (as well as every other website of note) because our readership will want to check it out. There’s a fine line that you have to walk and we’re always willing to pull down things if asked.

We linked to “The Fappening” because it was newsworthy (and got an insane amount of hits, which helps keeps the lights on). But I’ll be the first to admit I felt bad linking to it, if only for the privacy issues for those involved. Here’s the thing, though. If we’re going to rally behind Jennifer Lawrence when she calls the leaks of her (and others) nude pictures as a sex crime, and rightfully so, we need to at a minimum give Sony a fist pump of solidarity and call this what it properly is.

Corporate espionage at the highest level.

Garfield Christmas

Man, didn’t the Garfield film stink?

We were all fascinated when The Fappening happened, as we saw the humanly sexual side of celebrities when they weren’t in front of a camera, but anyone with any sense of right & wrong knew that this was profoundly wrong from the get go. The loudest voices decrying The Fappening have been awfully silent on the Sony debacle because of a couple factors. No one’s gotten naked, thus the ultimate betrayal of privacy (of personal, intimate pictures or video being released for profit or malfeasance) isn’t a factor. A bunch of dirt from executives (and a couple of movies) hasn’t exactly felt like a betrayal of privacy, either.

It just feels like a trailer leaking, but somehow bigger, because there is no major backlash.

It’s hard to feel bad and want to do something for a company like Sony, which is making substantive amounts of money every year. It’s easy to feel bad and want to do something for any number of the actresses who had profoundly personal moments uploaded for the world to see in perpetuity. We act as if they’re different acts, and imply the corporate hack & leaks are less serious due to our lesser outrage, when in reality they’re both equally awful and deserve similar amounts of outrage. Look at the aforementioned Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Pascal for the difference in how we get outraged in different amounts for the same breach of privacy.

Lawrence is an Oscar winner and the headline star of one of the biggest franchises of the decade with The Hunger Games, a genuine movie star, and will likely wind her career down as one of the great actresses and film stars of her generation. She’s also the type of actress you can admire for any number of reasons; Lawrence is a strong woman who has shown dedication to her craft and a quirky sense of humor in discussing the pratfalls of fame. Yet someone will be able to use a search engine to find something never meant for a mass audience, something stolen from her phone due to a technology error, for as long as humanity exists. Amy Pascal, a Sony executive, will always have interoffice, private emails never meant for dissemination available online for the same amount of time because her company was hacked. They too will be available on the web in perpetuity.

The only difference is no one saw Pascal naked on the internet.

She just insulted a movie star via email and somehow that’s ok to leak online with no outrage from anyone. We should be outraged the same … but we’re not. And that’s the problem.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

I reviewed If I Stay, which was kind of ok. But Chloe Moretz continues to impress.

Widro is starting a new piece called “This Day in Pulse History,” which follows what we did many moons ago. Wild to read this and remember all the people I’ve written with over the years.

Travis wrote about American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s latest.

Sean Penn … well … let’s be fair. He’s a great actor but it’s hard to buy him as an action hero.

My mother wrote an e-book on the letters exchanged between her mother and father during World War II. They found them in a Suitcase when she passed. You can buy it on Kindle here. It’s like $3, too. It’s weird to me to read my grandparents as young people, trying to be parents and husband & wife, during the war. It’s a different side to my grandmother, the one I didn’t know because I knew her after all this had happened.

And now on MMC … we watch the trailer to the greatest sequel to a film about space Nazis ever.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This week’s DVD – Sabotage

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback hasn’t been what many people had though it was, as I wrote last week, because the nature of what makes a star (and what makes us buy a ticket) has changed so much in the past decade. And it never was more apparent that with Sabotage, an R-rated hard-edged crime thriller Schwarzenegger would’ve been perfect to headline … in 1995.

Simple premise. Breacher (Schwarzenegger) is the lead of a black ops DEA team that takes down the worst of the worst. They ride the line between hoodlums and federal drug enforcement officers, mainly due to their badge, and it’s an existence fueled by alcohol and adrenaline. That’s also given them enemies across the world … and when they steal $10 million from a drug cartel, they cross a line.

Now Breacher’s team is being picked off, one by one, and Breacher has to figure out who’s behind it before he winds up dead. Did the cartel figure out it was them? Is it someone else from their past extracting revenge? Or is it his own team under the guise of a black flag from elsewhere?

The film didn’t do very well in theatres, even for an R-rated action thriller, because of an awful trailer that tries to make it more of an action film than a gritty thriller, because it’s a bit of a mess. This is a film that feels saved in post production as opposed to during. The film is coherent enough but it feels like it’s been assembled into a whole from parts that don’t quite match as much as they ought to. It’s like that Honda Civic that has all the right parts … but they’re all different colors, the engine rattles and the interior looks funky.

I like to think that when Arnold retires from action films, which is coming sooner than later based on his underwhelming record so far, that we’ll have two distinct eras of Arnold. And this’ll be the prime example of the latter, when he held on too long and was too old for roles he’d have been perfect for in his peak. Breacher is a great character and near perfect for Arnold but his age, and the fact that he looks every bit of a guy who’s pushing 70.

The fact that he’s so profoundly older and still trying to play a character that should be about a decade younger, based on the fact that Breacher is this Drug War legend with pictures of him with President Clinton, et al, when the role should be for someone closer to 50 than 70. Schwarzenegger has everything the role requires, the big presence and the charisma, but this is a role that should’ve been a signature when he was doing Eraser in the mid to late 1990s. Breacher is the old war horse but he’s older than everyone in the film, including his superiors, by a noticeable margin.

It feels like a stunt casting, no more, which is a shame because this could’ve been a little better with someone more appropriate for the role. The film isn’t all that good, as it has significant issues as a thriller, but it’s just good enough to watch without feeling guilty. Arnold is such a glaring weakness that even a diehard fan of the actor himself can only shrug after watching the film, though. Plus the fact that they couldn’t figure out how to use “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys into the film’s soundtrack is a disappointment, too.

Slightly recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies – The apparent final film in Peter Jackson’s descent back to Middle Earth.

See It – Apparently this one they don’t spent three hours walking and there’s the promise of a big epic battle scene.

Annie (2014) – A more urban remake of the original film, itself based off a Broadway show developed from a comic strip.

Skip it – After it got leaked the word of mouth came out that it was rancid, from the legions who apparently illegally downloaded and viewed it, I can’t imagine wanting to see it.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – Ben Stiller had to do another one of these after Tower Heist didn’t make as much money as they thought it would.

Skip it – The first was good but didn’t warrant, or need, a sequel. I reviewed the second here many moons ago. A third feels like Stiller is being contractually obligated to do so, not that he wants to, because he’s had a plethora of these sequels announced. A Zoolander sequel is in the works, as is one on Dodgeball, and it’s like Stiller is just knocking out all those contractual liabilities he’s put off for a decade plus now that his “give me an Oscar” film Walter Mitty didn’t get him a whiff of an award.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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