Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Don't Let the Bastards Win

Last week saw a couple of news events that seemed disconnected but I realized our reactions to them here in the United States had a unifying theme: don't let the bastards win. 

The first was the fallout from the hack of Sony's computer systems and the exposing of company secrets for the world to see. The fallout was the threat: as bad as this hack was, even worse things could happen next. And that leverage was used to exert pressure to remove the film The Interview from theaters. 

The Interview is/was/supposed to be a wacky comedy about an American TV talk show host being set up to assassinate the dictatorial leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Un. I have to admit I thought the trailer was funny but I can guess Kim Jung Un didn't share that point of view. I mean, if there was an entire major motion picture centered around the plot point of killing ME, yeah, I might have a problem with that. But at least what I could see from the trailer, the main thrust of the comedic action comes from the woefully out of their depth TV show host and his producer. As one rep from the CIA notes while watching these two numbskulls totally botch up a test of a plan to poison Kim Jung Un, "This plan has zero percent chance of succeeding." I'm pretty sure that within the context of this movie, Kim Jung Un had little worry about. 

But Kim, spoiled brat/dictator that he is, apparently decided to throw a temper tantrum and so some North Koreans who are not starving to death hack into Sony's computers. At first it seemed to be mostly an embarrassment to Sony execs: e-mails questioning why Sony is in business with Adam Sandler, why their movies suck (especially the Adam Sandler ones) and what a bitch Angelina Jolie is. 

But then things got serious. Dredging up the ghosts of 9/11, threats were made that if The Interview was shown in theaters, deadly terrorist acts would be committed against the American people. 

Sony elected to pull the movie from theaters. 

Immediately there was an outcry from President Obama all the way up to George Clooney that Sony had caved in to terrorists, that this was a blow to artistic freedom and free expression. With Sony pulling The Interview from theaters, the bastards win. 

But did Sony make the wrong decision? 

Consider this: movie theaters were already electing to not show the movie. Theater owners could not consider The Interview in isolation. Threats against any venue showing this one movie could undercut attendance to other movies in the same theater. Christmas is an extremely important time of the year for movie theaters with big blockbusters and award contenders being released. People not going to see The Interview would also mean people not going to see everything else. 

And Sony would incur significant costs to distribute a film that wasn't going to be shown in many (if any) theaters. 

No, we shouldn't let the bastards win but sometimes they're gonna win. Standing up to these terrorist cowards may be commendable but ultimately a business has shareholders and business partners to answer to. There's also a consumer base that would not look favorably upon this worldwide corporation if The Interview was released, damn the threats of terrorists but those threats were carried out. Death and destruction would be a lot to answer for.

Especially if The Interview sucked. 


And it stars Seth Rogen so...yeah. 

Note: Mark Evanier comes to similar conclusions but, no surprise, writes it better than me. Click here for Mark's take on All This Fuss About a Seth Rogen Movie

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Last week we heard announcement by President Obama that the US was changing its stance with Cuba and establishing relations between the two countries. Naturally, the far right opposition to Obama immediately went into knee jerk mode and immediately denounced the move on the following grounds: 

  1. Obama thinks its a good idea. 
  2. We're capitulating to communism. 
  3. Obama thinks its a good idea. 

Let's focus on point #2 a bit. (Points 1 and 3 are pretty much defacto for anything Obama does.)  Essentially, by ending the decades long embargo of Cuba, we're letting the bastards win. But with regards to Cuba, the bastards already won over a half century ago when communism took hold there under the ruthless grip of Fidel Castro. Not only did the embargo do nothing to overturn that victory, in an odd way we helped Castro maintain his grip on power there. He was one man standing up against an entire nation that was keeping Cuba in the dark with its embargo. Castro cast himself as the lone defender of Cuba against the American behemoth.  

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Over 5 decades of isolating Cuba never yielded the desired result. It was well overdue for the United States to do something different. We have to look at big picture, of what is ultimately best for both the people of Cuba and for Americans. 

Castro endured through 10 American Presidents, 5 of whom he outlived. As long as it was about punishing Castro and making sure "the bastard didn't win", nothing was going to change.

No, we shouldn't let the bastards win. But sometimes we have to pick and choose our battles. Which ones are worth fighting for. Which ones are worth dying for. Which ones will help the larger cause. So screw it, sometimes the bastards do win one once in a while, as long as the cause of what's right and what's just prevails in the end, that's what ultimately matters. 

Be good to one another.

Dave-El
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