Cultural Wars: Hackers Harsher Critics Than Religious Zealots

/Beth Wareham

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North Korea just plunged everyone everywhere into the Theater of the Absurd with their hack attack. Heavily tanned and exfoliated executives at Sony showed how willing they were to stand up for their artists. The answer was NOT AT ALL. I mean, really, didn’t you laugh at Pineapple Express?

Let’s pop over and see some cultural terrorism in the literary department. Oh look! It’s Salman Rushdie.

Mr. Fatwah himself was surrounded by executives and artists that laid their heads on the executioner’s block before they’d let Islamic fundamentalists have Salman Rushdie. His publishing company was routinely evacuated from bomb threats, so were booksellers. Stephen King made the call to Barnes & Noble saying that if they didn’t sell Salman, they could not sell him.

No one cared that the novels of Rushdie are virtually unreadable. I’d call them crap and to his face. His children’s books are great, but that’s not the point. The point is no one cut him loose. The “literary” community fought like honey badgers for his right to publish.

Now let’s pop back to Hollywood. “The Interview” is probably BARELY watchable and pretty hilarious if you watch it stoned. It is a cultural fart. The fact that North Korea chose it to go after is even more hilarious. But the one thing that needed to happen in all this: Sony executives had a moment to make a stand for every artist, for everyone trying to achieve something creative in this world, and creativity is the only way this world might have a chance of lasting.

Sony was given a rare moment to be a hero, a defender everything American.

Unfortunately for them and for us, hero was not something Sony could be.

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