The Sony Clause and the Gift of Humor

White Christmas. Miracle on 34th Street. Home Alone….The Interview?? Will The Interview forever be associated with Christmas?  What would have been a silly, adolescent sort of flick became an international issue just in time for Christmas. The shutting down of a comedy film, then it’s release in selected theaters as well as streaming online, has become a Christmas gift after all. Regardless of the quality of The Interview as a film, it now stands for freedom and peace on earth. Taking liberties with comedy has become giving liberty, after it felt  like our liberties were being taken. 

Sony had to confront the awful embarrassment and vulnerability of being hacked and threatened by North Korea. I appreciated the responsibility (and embarrassment) that the execs at Sony had to face, although I was rather disappointed with their decision to cancel showing The Interview (even if I had no intention of seeing the movie prior to this). Now, behold a Christmas miracle: The Interview will be shown!

Many have suggested the possibility that this is a brilliant marketing strategy by Sony. More likely, it is a Christmas Miracle for Sony. The reviews for The Interview have not been great, but now EVERYONE wants to see it. It’s practically a patriotic act.

Last week, President Obama expressed his disappointment with Sony’s initial decision to pull The Interview from theaters. He seemed to reflect popular sentiment that a threat by North Korea over a silly movie was truly an insult to everything we stand for, including Hollywood! Ultimately, Sony execs reconsidered.

“We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment. “At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.”

Sony, in an attempt to save some face, or wash some egg off, reminds us with the clause that they are continuing to “secure more platforms”…. The issue of security, whether it’s their own internal e-security, or our cyber security, or our physical well being –especially in a movie theater on Christmas– makes everyone a bit jittery. Adding a clause about security (even in the most generic sense) is the best justifier for anything.

Parents have historically added security clauses after their own temper tantrums. (“I did it for your own good.”) Now we can know that Sony (and perhaps other corporations) can make decisions that are of geopolitical significance as well as corporate economic significance, because of the security clause. Sony was merely protecting us from North Korea.

We appreciate corporate responsibility, and the Sony hacking was revealing in its breadth as well as its rather uninspired (and racist) execs. Aside from the embarrassment that they suffered just from exposed emails, the embarrassment of being vulnerable had to be overcome. The subsequent threats if The Interview were shown, made it easier for Sony to focus on security for everyone’s sake.

But after the initial discomfort over the Sony hacking, Americans didn’t feel justifiably threatened;certainly not by North Korea. If anything, Sony’s initial decision to pull The Interview from theaters felt threatening. Could a corporate decision, about frivolity no less, threaten our freedom more than an enemy government or terrorist?

The Sony Clause gave us the opportunity to see (or not see) The Interview on Christmas or during the holiday season.  The opportunity (more than the movie) may not be a Christmas miracle so much as a gift. Opportunity is a gift, as is humor. We sadly said goodbye to The Colbert Report last week, before Sony shifted to show The Interview. What better gift, especially after the end of The Colbert Report, than the Sony Clause, ensuring more secure platforms, to give liberty to taking liberties!  The incident of The Interview may remind us of the gift of humor this Christmas.  Giggling is always the sound of freedom. Happy Holidays!  Wishing you laughter, joy and peace!