Hollywood cowers before Kim Jong-un, refuses to sign George Clooney petition for free speech

Clooney AP1Free speech is taking a beating these days, and the punishment is coming from the one place that should be its staunchest defender: Hollywood. In an exclusive with Deadline Hollywood, George Clooney says he circulated a petition to support Sony Entertainment on the grounds that pulling “The Interview” would, for all intents and purposes, be an abdication of free speech to its enemies. The number or people in Hollywood willing to sign the petition: ZERO.

Here is an excerpt from the petition:

This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands. We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.

The fact that Mr. Clooney’s friends within the industry refused to sign such a statement is pathetic. Dec. 16, 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, but on that very same day Hollywood studio heads couldn’t even bring themselves to sign a piece a paper in defense of free speech. Ask yourself: Would you want to go to war with anyone from Hollywood? Do you want these people and their friends running the country and shaping the culture? How much damage have they already done?

After discussing his spineless friends (without naming names, of course), Mr. Clooney then goes on to talk about the ramifications of the Sony hacking with Deadline Hollywood’s Mike Flemming Jr.

DEADLINE: What kind of constraints will this put on storytellers that want to shine a critical light on a place like Russia, for instance, with something like a movie about the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, the KGB officer who left and became an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin?

CLOONEY: What’s going to happen is, you’re going to have trouble finding distribution. In general, when you’re doing films like that, the ones that are critical, those aren’t going to be studio films anyway. Most of the movies that got us in trouble, we started out by raising the money independently. But to distribute, you’ve got to go to a studio, because they’re the ones that distribute movies. The truth is, you’re going to have a much harder time finding distribution now. And that’s a chilling effect.

Mr. Flemming’s hypothetical scenario involving a movie about Alexander Litvinenko is impressive. It shows that he knows how dangerous of a precedent it was for Sony Entertainment to pull “The Interview.” Unfortunately, he and George Clooney appear to be in the vast minority in Hollywood. The erosion of free speech is happening before our eyes — we just can’t see it. You can’t see or hear the movies that were never written out of fear. You can’t hold the DVD of a movie that was never made because cowardly men and women in Hollywood are slaves to the desires of dictators and despots. You can’t smell and taste the popcorn for a blockbuster movie that was killed before pen was ever put to paper.

People laugh because a giant free speech debate has been generated over a Seth Rogen movie, but what happened at Sony is no laughing matter. Regardless, Americans should stand up and applaud George Clooney for shining a light on the character — or lack thereof — of the men and women running Hollywood.

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Sony caves to North Korea: ‘The Interview’ capitulation clowns give Kim Jong-un free speech veto

Seth Rogen James Franco The InterviewThe Founding Fathers knew that the right to free speech was important, which is why it is covered in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as part of the Bill of Rights. Today, Dec. 17, 2014, is the day that U.S. capitulation clowns at Sony gave a dictator veto power over the free speech rights of its American artists and sent a message to thug regimes that if they have enough tech savvy, then they can make studio executives cower in fear.

Here is what the First Amendment says:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” — Amendment I, U.S. Constitution.

Sony isn’t rolling over for the U.S. government, but instead doing something even worse — it’s censoring itself to appease a Communist thug regime that runs gulags.

Here is Sony’s statement regarding its decision to pull “The Interview” from theaters. It also has no plans to release the film in any formincluding VOD or DVD.

“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

Cowards. American blood was shed to guarantee that our rights to free speech, press, petition, assembly, and religion could be upheld, but in the face of threats by anonymous hackers on the other side of the globe, Sony crumbled. And before Sony made an utter embarrassment out of itself, the five major movie theater circuits did the same thing: Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Carmike Cinemas, Cinemark and Cineplex Entertainment.

Imagine you’re Vladimir Putin. Imagine you’re Iran’s Ali Khamenei. Imagine you’re Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro or China’s Xi Jinping. Is it more or less likely that you would be willing to use hackers to impose your will upon American companies and stifle dissent?

Imagine you’re a writer for a major motion studio. Would you craft any screenplays in the near future that challenge the world’s worst dictators and despots? The message Sony has sent to the world by pulling “The Interview” is downright chilling and its executives should be reminded of it for years to come.

Anyone who cares about free speech should be downright terrified that companies operating in the U.S. would run for the hills the moment a nebulous hacking group threatens Americans with violence. The fact that it was even under consideration to torpedo the film is an indicator that America’s cultural rotgut has grown to gargantuan proportions. We have been hollowed out from the inside, and Sony’s reaction to being hacked by the “Guardians of Peace” has exposed that sad reality for everyone to see.

Sony does not “stand by” its filmmakers. In fact, it is doing the exact opposite. It stabbed Seth Rogen and James Franco in the back, and it sucker punched millions of Americans who realize just how dangerous it is to appease dictatorial regimes.

Calling someone “un-American” should be done only on rare occasions due to the seriousness of the charge. However, I firmly believe that any American employee of Sony who backs the decision to kill “The Interview’s” theatrical release is taking part in something that is wholly and unequivocally un-American.

Related: Seth Rogen rightly called out Sony’s capitulation to North Korean thugs prior to hacking

Seth Rogen rightly called out Sony’s capitulation to North Korean thugs prior to hacking

Seth Rogen James Franco The InterviewIt’s not very often that I find myself in agreement with Seth Rogen, but leaked Sony emails reveal that even a comedian who often spews leftist talking points understands the importance of free speech — when his own is threatened.

As Seth Rogen’s and James Franco’s “The Interview” was filming, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai took issue with a scene that depicts the death of North Korea’s gulag overseer, Kim Jong-un. He stepped in to make sure that the feelings of a dictator weren’t hurt too much. Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, then had to figure out a way to deliver the news to writer and co-director Mr. Rogen.

Reuters reported Dec. 10:

In an exchange with Rogen, Pascal said she was in a difficult position because Hirai had asked her to make changes in the film.

“And this isn’t some flunky. It’s the chairman of the entire Sony Corporation who I am dealing (with),” she said.

Rogen responded by promising to remove three of four burn marks on Kim’s face, and reduce the “flaming hair” by 50 percent. But he said he could not meet all the demands. …

Rogen initially told Pascal he objected to requests to modify the death scene, which he said would be viewed as censorship and hurt sales.

“This is now a story of Americans changing their movie to make North Koreans happy,” he said in an Aug. 15 email. “That is a very damning story.”

In the end, enough edits were apparently made to satisfy Mr. Hirai, but at what cost?

This blog has covered Hollywood’s willingness to appease Chinese censorship boards if it will bring in a few million dollars more, and now it’s confirmed that similar measures were made out of the fear of what a North Korean dictator might do when he is openly mocked.

There is no doubt that Sony will lose millions of dollars as a result of its recent hacking. There is also no doubt that it is also quite embarrassing when wealthy Jewish liberals are exposed saying things about the first black president that would get a conservative kicked out of the industry in a second.

Buzzfeed reported Dec. 10:

In what has become the latest embarrassing email uncovered in a trove of messages leaked by hackers who attacked Sony, Pascal wrote Rudin: “What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast?” She was referring to a breakfast hosted by DreamWorks Animation head and major Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Rudin, a top film producer responsible for films like No Country for Old Men and Moneyball, responded, “Would he like to finance some movies.” Pascal replied, “I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” Rudin responded: “12 YEARS.” Pascal quickly continued down the path of guessing Obama preferred movies by or starring African Americans. “Or the butler. Or think like a man? [sic]”

Rudin’s response: “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

Hopefully, future liberal Hollywood power players will understand that free speech is much more important than their reputations. Yes, there is a risk when taking on powerful regimes that it will result in your personal emails being shared with the world — your very racial, very liberal emails — but that is a risk worth taking.

Seth Rogen is a liberal guy, but it’s refreshing to see that even he understands how bizarre it is to curb creative endeavors because ruthless dictators might throw digital temper tantrums. When Hollywood censors itself because anyone with some top-notch hackers behind them might retaliate, then it is a sad day for freedom of speech.