A Solution To Sony’s “The Interview” Dilemma That Thwarts The Terrorists

Hackers that stole private information from Sony Pictures and released some of it publicly caused an enormous amount of embarrassment and significant damage to the studio’s relationships with their employees and business partners. But what came next is far more troubling than embarrassment. The hackers behind the data theft have now threatened to attack movie theaters that show the film.

“We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.”

The one thing that this message makes clear is that whoever wrote it is a moron. After all, how will the world see what an awful movie it is if, as the terrorists wish, nobody sees it? It is idiocy like this that makes me tend to discount reports that North Korea is behind the hack or the threats. It sounds much more like a disgruntled ex-employee (or a group of them) who is seeking personal revenge. The fractured English looks deliberate as they managed to correctly punctuate the contraction “you would” while elsewhere emulating the syntax of Yoda.

Particularly revealing is the reference to greed as what offends the hacker. If the North Koreans were responsible it would be the perceived insult to their leader, Kim Jong-Un that would have incited them. But even that is a stretch because the film makes fools of the Americans, which is something that the North Koreans would welcome. And why would North Korea suddenly get so upset by this low-brow comedy? Why wouldn’t they have long ago threatened to blow up all of the media outlets that have been harshly critical of their country? Why wouldn’t they have aimed their wrath at hundreds of other more significant criticisms? Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity have said far worse things about North Korean than this film does.

However, now that this has devolved to terrorist threats for whatever reason it is an utterly unacceptable demand. If Sony capitulates to this threat they open the door for future terrorists to effectively control what American filmmakers (and any other product manufacturer) can produce and distribute. And, of course, that also means that the terrorists control what American citizens are permitted to see or buy. That is a power that must not be granted to the cretins who plotted this affair. And Sony has it within their power to thwart them.

Sony Interview

Some theaters have already decided to pull the film from their screens. Sony has told all exhibitors that they will be allowed to do so. Consequently, the film’s profit potential in the theatrical marketplace has been effectively ruined. So why doesn’t Sony just take the next step and announce that they will make the film available for free to everyone. They can release it themselves on the Internet. They can distribute it to cable television operators for free broadcast.

By doing this they keep the means of distribution in their own hands. They can inset advertising to generate revenue. And the ad rates could probably be unusually high due to the abnormally strong level of interest that this film will likely have. As a result, whatever motives the hackers had to suppress the film will have not only been thwarted, it is very likely that more people will see it than if none of this had occurred.

So what do you say, Sony? Do you want to allow terrorists to dictate what Americans can produce and consume? Or do you want to turn a horrible situation around to slap the perpetrators in the face and deter future attempts of this sort of extortion? This solution denies the bad guys a victory at the same time as it rescues the studio from a certain loss.

Fortunate Son Burn: To Fox News An Anti-War Song Is Anti-Military

In a never ending quest to find artificially negative themes with which to provoke their mentally unstable viewers into irrational panics, Fox News latched onto the broadcast of an HBO tribute to veterans on Veterans Day. The atrocity that caught their attention was a performance by Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, and Zac Brown, of the classic 1960’s song “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. And it was literally, according to Fox, an outrage.

Fox News Fortunate Son

What ruffled Fox’s chickenhawk feathers was their addled interpretation of the song as anti-military. And what made the song anti-military was that it was allegedly anti-war. Fox pounded that view into their audience all day with segments on Fox & Friends, where co-host Anna Kooiman said it was “a slap in the face” to veterans; on Outnumbered, where it was characterized as an “outrage;” and on The Five, where co-host Eric Bolling called the choice of material “a mistake.”

First of all, the song is not anti-war. It is anti-elitist privileged classes that exempt themselves from the burdens of society. It explicitly criticizes the rich and powerful who vote themselves tax cuts and shield their kids from the dirty business of defending the freedom that they exploit. The song’s title should make it obvious enough that the hacks on Fox wouldn’t need to struggle to figure it out.

Secondly, even if the song were anti-war, that does not translate to anti-military in any sane person’s mind. Some of the most anti-war people you will ever meet are soldiers and veterans. This makes perfect sense because they are the ones most affected by war. When military conflicts are averted they remain safe and their families are spared the anxiety of separation and potential tragedy.

For Fox to contrive an anti-military spin to the concept of anti-war requires them to adopt the view that in order to be pro-military you must be pro-war. That is ludicrous on its face. In fact, the opposite is true. Anyone who is truly pro-military wants every possible measure taken to avoid sending America’s sons and daughters into battle. Once in battle, support for the military is expressed by wishes for the safe completion of their mission and return home. No supporter of the military also supports an enduring war.

Nevertheless, the confused anti-military viewpoint of the talking head set is precisely what Fox News wants to project to their dimwitted audience. They obviously have no grasp of the real nature of patriotism, and they are even worse when they pretend to be rock music critics.

For your entertainment pleasure, here is the awesome version of Fortunate Son performed at the Concert for Valor:

D’Souza’s America: Conservative Crybaby Whines About Oscar Snub

Finally, Oscar Sunday is right around the corner. And what better time for a right-wing loser to whine to the press about how the Academy failed to recognize his brilliance and shower him with undeserved praise?

Dinesh D’Souza turned his critically reviled book of falsehoods about President Obama into a crockumentary called “2016: Obama’s America.” While the film found an audience of gullible Teabaggers anxious to consume anything derogatory about the President, more sensible viewers found the film to be riddled with lies and fabricated mythology.

Not surprisingly, a so-called documentary that failed to adhere to the most basic tenets of truth, also failed to garner much support for recognition by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Thinly veiled propaganda screeds that have no factual basis rarely win Oscars.

Rather than exhibiting some measure of dignity and enjoying the financial rewards of making a film popular with conspiracy nuts, D’Souza has chosen to blast the Academy and its members as hopelessly biased for not seeing what a humongous slab of talent he is. Even worse, D’Souza slammed the filmmakers who actually did produce works of quality that earned them Oscar nominations.

D’Souza: I join most Americans in leaving them in deserved obscurity. I haven’t heard of any of them, and like most people, I haven’t seen them.

What class. And what a demonstration of intellectual integrity he shows by disparaging films he admits he has not even seen. Then again, what more should we expect from a man who was forced to resign as the head of King’s College (a Christian institution) for having an affair, which he denied even as he admitted that he was engaged to a woman who was not his wife.

Dinesh D'Souza

In the hypocritical world of sanctimonious piety peddlers, preachers embroiled in sex scandals, like Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard are forgiven. Politicians like Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, and David Vitter, who have had to explain their own adulteries and whore mongering, know that Fox News will always be there to defend them. Every conservative sinner is granted a “Get Out of Hell Free” card. Too bad they don’t have their own Oscars (yet) to award themselves statuettes for Best Smear Job by a Dishonest Hack.

R.I.P. Andy Griffith. Not Just A Face In The Crowd

Lonesome Rhodes: Rednecks, crackers, hillbillies, hausfraus, shut-ins, pea-pickers – everybody that’s got to jump when somebody else blows the whistle. […] They’re mine! I own ‘em! They think like I do. Only they’re even more stupid than I am, so I gotta think for ‘em.

If you haven’t seen this movie, now would be good time. An amazingly prescient take on the then-new medium of television, and one of the best screen performances of all time.

America’s Barack: Get A T-Shirt That Celebrates The Obama Recovery

America's BarackWould you like to wear your heart on your sleeve? Crass Commerce, the eShop for News Corpse, has this original design on T-Shirts and stickers. America’s Barack!

Your purchases will help to maintain this web site and it’s mission to expose right-wing bias in the media.

Our nation has been struggling to recover from the economic calamity that a conservative philosophy thrust upon us. Tax cuts for the wealthy and dangerous deregulation led directly to the Great Recession of 2008. Now we are beginning to dig our way out of that hole, and it is due to an agenda of stimulus and investment in the American middle class. We need to stay on this path and that means staying with a forward-looking administration that understands that prosperity is the byproduct of a financially healthy middle class that has money to spend in their communities.

The Constitution begins “We the People” not “We the Corporations.” (And no, corporations are not people). We are America, and America’s Barack!

Born And Bred In Brooklyn, U.S.A., They Call Me Adam Yauch But I’m M.C.A.

The Beastie Boys may be remembered best for fighting for their right to party. But they were a groundbreaking trio of rockin rappers who cared about music and the world they lived in. Even if it was a World Gone Mad.

Adam Yauch passed away today at the age of 47 after a three year battle with cancer.

R.I.P. M.C.A.

Fox News: In Touch With America – Of The 1940’s

Conservatives have been clamoring for the past three years or so that they want to “take America back.” The problem is that they want to take America back 50 years – or more. Evidence of their fixation on yesteryear was poignantly exhibited this morning on Fox and Friends when the hosts featured a segment about a fundraiser for President Obama.

Male Host: We’ve heard a lot about civility recently , and that’s why we maintain only the highest standards of civility on this program. But there’s a kind of a crazy moment at one of these Obama fundraisers. An entertainer named Cee Lo Green I believe, who must be very popular and hip because I’ve never heard of him ever before.
[…]
Female Host: It makes you long for the days of Sinatra, doesn’t it?

Cee Lo Green, of course, is a Grammy-winning artist whose novelty song “Fuck You” was a huge hit. It’s hard to grasp how anyone not living in an underground bunker waiting for Armageddon could have never heard of him. And why Frank Sinatra, a known pal of Mafia kingpins, is morally preferable to a guy who harmlessly and humorously cusses, is not readily apparent.

Nevertheless, Fox is intent on demonstrating the highest moral standards by featuring this story at the top of their Fox Nation web site, as if it were the most important news item of the day. And in their coverage they seem to have no problem with posting, uncensored, the very language that they are condemning:

“Donors at one of President Barack Obama’s fundraisers in Atlanta on Friday received at least one message loud and clear from the Obama campaign: ‘Fuck you.’ Singer Cee Lo Green, best known for his solo career and his work in the musical duo Gnarles Barkley, was entertaining guests at the $500-per-ticket event at Tyler Perry Studios when he prepared to launch into a performance of his song ‘Forget You.’

There was only one problem. Green decided, apparently at the last minute, to sing the uncensored and decidedly unpresidential version of the song — titled ‘Fuck You’ — instead.”

Note to Fox News: The song is not called “Forget You.” That was a sanitized version that Green recorded after the song unexpectedly raced up the charts. And if you’re so incensed by the use of foul language, why did you subject your hypersensitive readers to it – twice?

Thank goodness we have Fox News monitoring the moral fitness of society’s art and entertainment. We know that they can be relied upon to uphold the values that all Americans share (because we all think alike), while keeping up with contemporary culture (as long as it stops at 1950).

Mitt Romney Takes Pot Shots At Big Bird And PBS

Big BirdOne of the right’s perennial targets has been public television and programs that benefit the arts. They have relentlessly criticized these institutions and sought to deny them federal funding. They have even accused them of being socialist vehicles intent on indoctrinating America’s young. Now Mitt Romney joins the battle with a pledge to stop funding PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts (video below).

When Romney says that he wants to “stop certain programs…even some you like,” he is referring to programs that are of significant value to average Americans, but that he can live without because his quarter of a billion dollar net worth enables him to acquire whatever he wants. Romney demonstrates how pitifully out of touch he is by proposing to eliminate funding for PBS, a network that provides educational programming that is not available anywhere else, certainly not in commercial television. He is explicit in what he plans to do:

“We subsidize PBS. Look, I’m gonna stop that. I’m gonna say that PBS is gonna have to have advertisements. We’re not gonna kill Big Bird, but Big Bird’s gonna have advertisements.”

Despite his denials, killing off Big Bird is precisely what his plan would accomplish. There is a reason that commercial TV does not produce the sort of programming seen on PBS. For-profit networks have to cater to advertisers in order to stay in business. By necessity they are more concerned with generating profit than with quality programming. Take a look at tonight’s primetime schedules of the cable nets that were supposed to compete with public television:

  • Bravo: 8:00pm Top Chef: Texas; 9:00pm Top Chef: Texas; 10:00pm Top Chef: Texas
  • Discovery: 8:00pm Sons of Guns; 9:00pm Sons of Guns; 10:00pm Moonshiners
  • Learning Channel: 8:00pm Toddlers & Tiaras; 9:00pm Cheapskates; 10:00pm Toddlers & Tiaras

That’s not exactly entertainment designed to enrich America’s children. It’s a jumble of insipid reality programs that repeat ad nauseum. It’s Real Housewives, Swamp Loggers, Hoarders, and info-mercials. If Big Bird were required to rely on advertisers for funding it would not be long before Sesame Street was just another avenue on the Jersey Shore.

That’s the free market model for public broadcasting that Romney and the right advocate. It’s a model that would replace Bert and Ernie with Kim and Chloe. Is that really the example we want to set for our kids?

Leave It To Blather: A Holiday Memorial To The Media Madhouse

In honor of Independence Day I offer this reprise of a video I produced almost five years ago that embraces the naive wisdom found in the Golden Age of American television. Is this a great country or what?

Who would have thought that after 50 years the Cleaver brothers would be looked back upon as media visionaries? The insight and stark analysis preserved in this video unmistakably marks them as the intellectual peers of Minow, McLuhan, and Colbert.

The video above contains an actual clip from Leave It To Beaver. In the episode’s customary moralistic epilogue, the boys tackle the same defects in television news that Jon Stewart so elegantly skewered in his now famous Crossfire appearance.

Seeing this icon of innocence and family values humorously addressing a media problem that persists 50 years later, illustrates just how entrenched these problems are (and how easy they are to make fun of). But the fact that we’re still laughing at the same jokes is a bit disheartening. It’s not exactly an affirmation of progress.

The parade of prattling pundits that populate the closing credits are only a taste of the Blathering Class that infects our national discourse with deceit, diversion and division. And yet, people watch. Are we gluttons for punishment, addicted to conflict, or just starved for knowledge and hoping some will inadvertently reveal itself?

I don’t know. I guess I watch too much TV. Have a Happy Froth of July.