George Clooney, First Amendment Superhero


Something is wrong in the universe.  Conservatives can agree with George Clooney regarding his stance on a fundamental right in the United States and standing up to the forces that seek to put chilling effects on that freedom.

It seems that when the entire Sony Pictures hacking occurred, Georgie circulated a petition among Hollywood bigwigs asking them to sign it in defense of free speech for their films and as a statement that the motion picture industry would not bow to pressure that would control the content of their films.  It read:

On November 24 of this year, Sony Pictures was notified that it was the victim of a cyber attack, the effects of which is the most chilling and devastating of any cyber attack in the history of our country. Personal information including Social Security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the full texts of emails of tens of thousands of Sony employees was leaked online in an effort to scare and terrorize these workers. The hackers have made both demands and threats. The demand that Sony halt the release of its upcoming comedy The Interview, a satirical film about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Their threats vary from personal—you better behave wisely—to threatening physical harm—not only you but your family is in danger. North Korea has not claimed credit for the attack but has praised the act, calling it a righteous deed and promising merciless measures if the film is released. Meanwhile the hackers insist in their statement that what they’ve done so far is only a small part of our further plan. 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.

According to Mr. Clooney, NOT ONE HOLLYWOOD EXECUTIVE WOULD SIGN IT.  For him, this was more of a bold statement of cowardice than any kind of protection the people of tinseltown were affording their families and employees.  Since the writing of Mr. Clooney’s petition, not only has it been confirmed that North Korea indeed was the culprit behind said hacking, but Sony Pictures will not be releasing the movie The Interview after all.  It seems that the movie theaters themselves refused to put it on screen as their lawyers assured them that if anything were to happen as the result of people seeing this film, they would be liable.

This, as Mr. Clooney states in an interview with Deadline Hollywood, is cowardice.  Allowing any entity to control the content of a message, or in this case, entertainment, for any reason other than the intent of the creator so long as it is truth or labelled fiction is a chilling effect.  As Mr. Clooney says, The Interview is a satiric comedy, a silly movie made by the South Park guys where the North Korean dictator’s father’s head explodes.  It might be in bad taste and a bit irresponsible, but as Mr. Clooney also says, you can’t legislate good taste.  According to Mr. Clooney:

The truth of the matter is, of course you should be able to make any movie you want. And, you should take the ramifications for it. Meaning, people can boycott the movie and not go see your film. They can say they’ll never see a Sony movie again. That’s all fine. That’s the risk you take for the decision you make. But to say we’re going to make you pull it. We’re going to censor you. That’s a whole other game. That is playing in some serious waters and it’s a very dangerous pool.

Which, in a nutshell, is the power of the free market at work in Hollywood alongside the first amendment.  Just as the wackadoodles have the right to make any stupid, insane and insulting movie THEY want, we the people have the absolute right NOT to spend the money to see it.  Mr. Clooney makes it plain that he accepts and respects that.

What is also plain now, is that, as Mr. Clooney says in the Deadline Hollywood piece, the paradigm has shifted.  The people of Hollywood are operating in fear.  There is no reason for that.  A communist dictatorship is trying to control the content of entertainment fare in a country where they have no cause to do so.  Mr. Clooney would like to see Hollywood stand up and say, “NO!” to this threat.  We conservatives might not agree with him on much, but in this case, Georgie’s right.  Thank you, Mr. Clooney.

P.s.  As others have said, this writer encourages Sony Pictures to put The Interview on YouTube or some other public medium for distribution.  They may not make any money on that form of distribution, but at least the content will be published.  Heck, I might even watch it, and I am NOT a fan of satire or Seth Rogen.

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.