Tag Archives: sony hacks

The Birth of “Imitation Movie Product”

Add "straight male" to the flavor your corporate "movie" label is complete

Add “straight male” to the flavor your corporate “movie” label is complete

by Legendary Lew

The infamous Sony Hacks and film studios’ release plans for the next five years have made it more clear than ever before: they’re not interested in movies. Instead, they are interested in manufactured product. It’s incredible how brazen they now are in showing an utter disdain for you as a viewer.

As Mark Harris astutely points out in the must-read film article of the year,

As with prepackaged food, exportability and shelf life are now primary virtues. The product Hollywood is selling right now keeps better if it contains as few organic ingredients as possible — whether organic to the place, the mood, the news, or the moment. Think of the major Hollywood studio movies you saw this year. Aside from their up-to-the-nanosecond technological razzle-dazzle, how many of them felt like they belonged specifically to 2014, as opposed to five, 10, or 15 years ago? Or, for that matter, five years from now?

And much like an insurance company visiting college grad prospects, the “movie” studios have the next five years of your life all set. Behold, their idea of movie plots:

harris-sequels-1

harris-sequels-2

You can consider some older movies to be “corn”– a la (Frank) “Capra-corn”– but these features represent the corporate farm corn to be fed to the masses all over the world. These listings prove an attempt to standardize film making to such an extent that there’s practically no deviance from any formula that would disrupt the franchise.

So I propose a solution to differentiate between indie films and these corporate franchise films: require the latter to be labeled “Imitation Movie Product” or IMP, for short.

Why not? By law, sandwich slices have to be called “cheese food” or “cheese product” to separate them from the much better stuff you would buy at a specialty shop. “Imitation vanilla flavor” is not to be confused with what you can legally call vanilla.  Film makers at both the indie and corporate studio levels can use the same tools to make the finished film–much like “cheese food” companies can use “real milk!”–but they definitely come out with different works.

So from now on, the releases listed above will be referred to, by me, as “Imitation Movie Product” or IMP for short.

I think this will clear up the confusion and “consumers” will receive better guidance as to what they are actually viewing and supporting. You’re welcome.

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Dear Sony Pictures: Stop Threatening Journalists. You Brought the Sony Hacks Debacle On Yourself.

Make believe it didn't happen

Make believe it didn’t happen

by Legendary Lew

Dear Sony Pictures:

I realize you’re not having the best of holiday seasons. That’s totally understandable. This time of year is very rough on a lot of people.

You’re traveling a rocky road right now with the recently released details of embarrassing emails splashed all over social media. I admit laughing heartily while reading that Angelina Jolie was blamed for the loss of a Steve Jobs biopic from David Fincher and that Seth Rogen and James Franco were paid thousands of dollars to drive themselves to the set of their new movie The Interview.

I understand the new threats being leaked by The Guardians of Peace warning

Make believe this didn't happen

Make believe this didn’t happen

people not to watch The Interview are serious. The movie was pulled from release and now there are even reports claiming the hacks might have been an inside job. As the saying goes, it sucks to be you.

Perhaps these enduring stresses are why your PR department is in shambles. You’re demanding journalists destroy any files they’ve received under threats of lawsuits, thereby assuring The Streisand Effect. Aaron Sorkin, Seth Rogen and James Franco are going to bat for you, calling those who shared your leaked emails traitors and criminals. Maureen Dowd is openly lying to cover you. Howard Stern is erroneously comparing these leaks to those released of nude actresses, apparently because he believes an individual’s private nude photo is the equivalent to corporate business correspondence.

As a film lover, I would like to stage a sort of intervention for you, because apparently many entertainment writers seem not to be coming forward to say what you need to hear:

You helped bring this on yourself.

Do I like what “The Guardians of Peace” did? No. Am I a supporter of North Korea’s dictatorship? Of course not.

Do I think you are a creativity-averse, internet-hating, reckless, possibly felonious corporation that doesn’t care about your own cyber security or the privacy of your employees? 

Hell, yes.

Let’s take these issues one at a time:

1. Creativity aversion: You are not in the business of making movies. You are in the business of making products.

No one needs to be a North Korean spy to figure this out. All you need to do is to head on to the Columbia Pictures IMDB page listing your distributions. You can point to Captain Phillips and American Hustle with some pride, but we know it’s not your bread and butter, pre-marketed franchises are. Your own employees even know this and are pouring forth with a deluge of complaints about wasting money and time on shit like Adam Sandler movies. This corporate thinking leads to some really poor choices for creating The Interview, the movie that has supposedly led to your heartburn. Here is the red band trailer NSFW:

You guys wanted to combine This is the End with political satire, and yet your own CEO Michael Lynton had the laughable gaul to say “…the film was designed to entertain and not to make a political statement.” Really? Do you think we’re fools? Do you think we don’t remember this:

In case you need a touch-up on U.S. history, we invaded one of those countries Bush listed based on lies. Do you think a goofy, har-har, sex joke comedy approach with political assassinations and the CIA as themes is a good idea?

Let me put what I’m saying in a different and more direct way. Suppose a major film company in Russia (a superpower prone to invading countries) decided to produce and distribute internationally a giddy, frat-bro comedy about a couple of guys sent to Washington, DC  to interview President Obama and before that trip, they are approached by KGB (known to torture people) asking them to assassinate him? And they threw in a scene like this near the end?:

Now I know you guys don’t think much of Obama, but don’t you think people here would be outraged?

Didn’t it occur to you during the production of the movie that simply changing the name of the North Korean dictator character to something other than his real name could have saved you a shitload of headaches? Is there anyone there who could have spoken up saying that perhaps a dark, more straight-laced comedy is a better tone for this type of movie? We’re not stupid. I mean, for God’s sake, we still watch the greatest political satire ever made. That movie used the pseudonyms President Muffley and Premier Kissoff for leaders and it’s in your catalog!

2. Reckless: Your own security employees warned you that your lax security was a disaster in the making and you ignored them.

You should have contacted Wally Amos, the originator of Famous Amos cookies, a long time ago when he recounted that the worst mistake he ever made that led to him losing his company was not listening to his employees.

Fusion has a fascinating post that Aaron Sorkin, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Howard Stern and other defenders had better read before they open their mouths and continue putting their feet in them. Some of your former security employees –among the scant 11 you hired among a 7000 person work force to handle all your cyber security–were not surprised with the hack, given the shockingly nonchalant attitude of Jason Spaltro,  the then-Executive Director of Information Security for you during the aughts.

Spaltro practically advertised his company’s lack of security by letting everyone know that you had no alternative to safeguarding passwords beyond writing them on Post-It Notes and hiding them somewhere. One former employee stated that a stash of important passwords were all compiled on one file under the tag “My Passwords” (perhaps the lure created by someone setting up the inside job)? What happened to Spaltro after the infamous Anonymous hack of Sony Playstations exposing 77 million accounts? He stayed on the job and, in fact, he is your current Senior Vice-President of Information Security due to get a salary increase plus bonus from $300K to $400K.

3. Internet-hating, possibly felonious: You and the MPAA are willing to break the internet and possibly bribe public officials to help do it.

Plenty of bandwidth will be spent on a 25-page list of your employees complaints and frustrations with you, including pending lawsuits based on your HR department’s acquiring very private medical records.

However, I want to concentrate on a matter brought up by Mike Masnick at TechDirt. He references Russell Brandom’s article “Project Goliath: Inside Hollywood’s Secret War Against Google” in The Verge. “Goliath” is your code word for Google.

It’s no secret you, the other studios and the MPAA despise Google. But now, leaks reveal plans that the MPAA is courting the bribery of attorney generals in several states to crack down on them. Hiring Steve Fabrizio,  a powerful, highly-driven lawyer connected to the piracy-cracking law firm Jenner and Block, the MPAA with your help is trying to lure AGs into getting tough with Google, thereby making the next attempt at passing SOPA much easier:

May 8, 2014: Fabrizio to group. “We’ve had success to date in motivating the AGs; however as they approach the CID phase, the AGs will need greater levels of legal support.” He outlines two options, ranging from $585,000 to $1.175 million, which includes legal support for AGs (through Jenner) and optional investigation and analysis of (“ammunition / evidence against”) Goliath. Both options include at least $85,000 for communication (e.g. “Respond to / rebut Goliath’s public advocacy, amplify negative Goliath news, [and] seed media stories based on investigation and AG actions.”).

I dunno, Sony. Sounds like bribery to me.

So, let’s recap: your employees are complaining and warning you that your cyber security is horrendous. You allowed the production of a movie calling for the assassination of an actual sitting leader of another country, a move that even your biggest of big bosses–who rarely, if ever, gets involved with your film productions–says was a bad idea (I’m wagering that his frowning upon The Interview is a larger factor in getting the movie pulled than any real threat of human harm from North Korea). And finally, your hacked emails expose you folks as spoiled, bitchy, backstabbing, inconsiderate whiners and hypocrites ready to bribe government officials into getting your way.

And you warn journalists to not do their jobs and obey, sorta like Maureen Dowd did, right?

Fuck you.

Sincerely,
Legendary Lew Ojeda