Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sony Sleaze and the Revenge of the Nerds

For Real?

 Where are the socially responsible politicians and pundits? In the last 48 hours, discourse surrounding the Sony hack scandal has become  hyper- bellicose , against the wrong bad guy. Senators like Diane “blood will be shed” Feinstein are rattling sabers at North Korea, the politically expedient enemy/villain du jour. The whole scenario seems like a bad parade of fools.

James Coby, the embarrassingly buffoonish and under qualified head of the FBI describes his policy decisions in terms of  “donuts”, ”bagels” and “layer cake”( paging Lorne Michaels ). He wants us to believe that the Sony hack came from a country without computers. For real....

 Before he joined the Bureau, Mr. Comey served as General Council and Senior Vice President at Lockheed Martin His post-gov payoff for starting another war would be epic.

 So Washington is all up in arms about “rights”. Notwithstanding the glaring incredibility of the North Korea hypothesis,since when does the United States go to war on behalf of a foreign multinational corporation ? More narrowly, since when does Seth Rogan’s right to  B-crude on the global screen trump the safety concerns of the rest of us who can’t afford bodyguards ?

 The policy wonks in Washington are shamelessly and shamefully out of touch with cyber-culture which explains there off-beat position.They rely on others to navigate it for them. So why don't they “invite” Google to help solve this problem as they did previously to wage war on American privacy at the NSA ( keeping us safe from each other). Googlers are the only cyber-orgs capable of figuring out this crisis and avoiding a war with China over it. Well, Washington has declared war on Google. Its called "Operation Goliath". On behalf of Sony and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) our own people’s republic is fighting online  "piracy” which is gov-speak for censuring the internet. The last round of legislation caved due to populist protest .The newest approach involves trying to squeeze these laws through a backdoor by inviting the State Attorney Generals to legislate Sony’s censorship agenda through the Courts, state by state. How very American of them. Google is fighting back with our help,... for real.

As pundits and politicians focus on a Sony PR dollar grab , their is a central aspect in this debacle which is strikingly absent from the hue and cry over entertainment rights. America’s racial tensions are at an historical low right now. Pretty recently we fought a Civil War to establish racial equality under the law. The Reverend Dr.Martin Luther King ,an American saint whose words are studied and contemplated in every American classroom,was assassinated on American soil. We've come a long way since than….right ?  Barack Obama is President. Nobody hacked him.
In today’s fragile social climate, the Sony hack exposed what could only be described as the reckless bad judgement of Sony Entertainment. Isn't Black-face Vaudeville a shameful episode in the racist past ? Not really. According to Sony executive Amy Pascal, black stereotyping is entertainment tonight . Who’s laughing. Amy Pascal and her email buddies have not been fired for ridiculing a sitting American President using hate speech (where is the Secret Service?) We hear that she is doing sensitivity training somewhere. Is that all ? One can’t help but wonder how this ugliness is resonating in a wounded African-American psyche still reeling from the recent police acquittals.Ferguson is still in the now and so is white privilege. Our present racial dynamics are acutely fragile. People are scared. People are hurting. Their is an atmosphere of hopelessness  that verges on despair. Yet CNN is doing a special tonight on “what it means to have you're emails made public”. For about an hour of airtime, multi-billionaire Mark Cuban’s personal story will enlighten us about this indignity. Really CNN?

 Notwithstanding the glaring incredibility of the North Korea hypothesis, the policy wonks in Washington are equally out of touch and out of step with  the culture in general and cyber-culture especially. With crusading moral indignation they are making movie defense the national defense. Does anyone else see a  conflict  here?

 As for who-dun-nit in the real world, the  likely scenario is that some unidentified code-head on the inside of Sony Corp cyber-attacked the boss because of grievous mistreatment. Corporate elites can no longer afford take people for granted. Sexually harass a woman and her teenage son just might hack you to death.Make movies that ridicule and stereotype Asians and you just might get hacked to death by a cyber-army of South Koreans. An office culture of  misogyny and racism  generates resentment and fosters revenge fantasies.Read the emails and you will realize just how many people the Sony executives casually disrespected and offended. They did this to themselves. Who exposed them ? The possibilities are virtually endless.

 Sony’s real problem is not that it was hacked. Anyone or anything can be hacked these days. Sony’s true problem is that  it’s executives are backward-thinking and out of touch with people who don't fly private. Out of touch with people who go to the movies with they're kids People with mortgages.People who have to wait in line. People who  have no choice but to bear insults and who don’t get away with dissing federal statutes.People whose narratives can no longer be ignored in a digital culture.

The unprecedented bad judgement of the Sony Entertainment executives presents a fundamental and immediate question for Tokyo and it’s shareholders. In what other ways are these guys blindly steering the company into an iceberg ?

The brotherhood of the white collars has just  been upstaged and undone by the brother/sisterhood of the t-shirts who don’t take limos to work.They ride bikes.They are the new power elite. The“Code-Literati”, and  you better be nice or you could be next. Really.


My advice to Sony Corp CEO Kazou Hirai….  watch "The Revenge of the Nerds" .
For Real?