As The Interview's release date approached, theaters received retaliatory threats. In response, major theater chains cancelled their showings and Sony dropped its plans for a Christmas Day release. This decision brought on cries of censorship.
We have no shortage of people in the Asia Society network with ideas and suggestions about what the next year will bring. The other night we hosted a panel on "Asia 2015," a whirlwind tour of the continent's near future.
So I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that some of the movie industry's most powerful traditions are still being maintained. The bad news is that these are cowardice and the ability to attract every kind of idiocy.
Free speech in America may be a constitutional right but self-censorship is an American congenital habit. From government officials to corporation executives, from filmmakers to the media, it happens at great frequency and intervals.
Does hacking into a private entertainment corporation's computer files constitute an act of war? Against whom, exactly?
China's leaders need to look hard at the "Chinese Dream" they are trying to realize for their country and decide if that dream rests more on cooperation at this defining moment with the world's other largest economy, the United States, or on an absurd and outdated allegiance to the bizarre and historically obsolete feudal regime of the Kim family in Pyongyang.
A White House sponsored screening of The Interview would be an endorsement of the First Amendment, and a demonstration of America's resolve in the face of bluster from a third world dictator.
I say that these terrorists were successful because they simply were. They achieved their intended goal. They kept this film from being released, so that audiences could not see the material in it, which they deemed offensive.
In all our concern for "free speech" (a phrase that has been tossed around needlessly; the United States government did not censor The Interview), we've overlooked the people of North Korea, and how our American thirst for comedy erases them from our consciousness.
If North Korea, with a GDP of $12 billion (compared to $16 trillion in the U.S.), can pose that kind of a threat, we need to seriously rethink what the term "super power" really means. Perhaps even more fundamentally, we need to reconsider what "power" means.
Although John McCain's sidekick in threat exaggeration and bellicose strutting, Lindsay Graham, was outraged that President Obama called North Korea's action "cyber vandalism," that is probably the best description.
Some people are calling the attack on Sony an act of cyber-terrorism (which it clearly is). Some are calling it cyber-bullying, albeit by the best, most powerful cyber-bullies we have encountered to date. But this actually may be a new kind of warfare, empowered by our addiction to, and our accelerating reliance on, technology.
Sony Pictures and the rest of corporate America must realize that the proliferation of cyber miscreants and illicit activities that steal Intellectual Property and sensitive data are finding it easier than ever.
Shrum and Lowry discuss North Korea's film fatwa and Cheney's eagerness to become Mr. Torture. Then: If Nixon recognized China 25 years after its Communist Revolution, why shouldn't Obama do so with Cuba 50 years later? And can the third Bush beat the first woman?
The vulnerabilities that Dr. Charlie Miller points to are real and require our attention if we are to ensure that fiction does not become reality, and that the most recent cyber attacks on Sony are the end and not the beginning of a new era in state-sponsored cyber attacks.