We need to talk about Sony and the media

We haven’t talked politics or current events in awhile, but with all of the media hysteria over Sony’s decision to pull The Interview, I thought now is a good time to jump back in.

First, let me be perfectly clear. None of the employees or stars deserved to have their private material hacked. In no way do I condone, what the media is calling an act of cyber terrorism. But I would be remiss if I did not address two issues brought about by the American media and heads of Sony that contributed to this act. You may not agree with me, but we need to be open to the ideas I’m about to bring up.

As I sit here writing this piece, the American media is decrying both the hackers and Sony’s decision to pull the movie. The media is now outraged by the cyber attack. The American news corporations are collectively marketing this act as their Top Story and falling all over themselves in their condemnation of the attack. This is pure hypocrisy as just last week they were collectively giggling over the leaked documents and selling these “revelations” as news fluff. The 24hour news channels gleefully shared the hacked material with the world.

Imagine that your next-door neighbor had a break in and all of his possessions were stolen. Ask yourself, would you willingly take the stolen items and show them off to friends and family, all the while condemning the break in, or would you ignore the offer of free stuff in the hopes the criminals would be caught? Do you want to be an accomplice to a crime or a supportive neighbor?

By sharing the leaked material the American news corporations are accomplices to the cyber crime. By airing Sony’s private material they are actively participating in the crime, if by nothing else, playing into their hands. The hackers wanted to embarrass Sony Pictures and found willing partners in our media. Thanks to our media, the hackers found a platform. And now that Sony has decided to pull the plug on the movie due to death threats, the media is crying foul. I say shame on you media for participating in the crime. Thanks to you the attack was a total success. Not only do we know Sony was hacked, we know what was hacked, and by airing the material, you shared the stolen goods with the world. Well done idiots, well done. Now, stop being hypocrites and start assessing you role in this act.

2013 felt like a very violent year. It may not have been the most violent on record, but it sure felt like it. This time last year we were mourning the loss of life at the Sandy Hook elementary school. We debated what to do about reports of the Syrian government gassing its own, and shuddered at the horrific beheadings done by ISIS. America, though split on what to do about gun violence, certainly came together and condemned the actions of extreme government and religious leaders. Murder is all around us, and we are tired of it. One has to look no farther than the recent protests of police brutality.

So given that we are faced with all of this, who at Sony thought it would be a good idea to green light a movie that involves the assassination of a named world leader? And not just any world leader; a bat shit crazy leader. Oh he may be dead, but his equally bat shit crazy son is not. Seriously, didn’t anyone at Sony think this through? North Korea hates America and views us as their sworn enemy, so why make a movie that only fosters this hate? Why didn’t someone at Sony demand the name of the country and its leader be changed?

But Sari, we have freedom of speech! Yes, yes we do. But jus like we don’t yell Fire! in a crowded movie theater, we shouldn’t throw gas on an already ignitable situation. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. Freedom of speech only works when we use freedom of intellect; something lacking in Sony’s decision to fund this kind of comedy. And by watching it, we are not collective hypocrites who decry the brutal acts of others while laughing at the idea of assassinating a known world leader?

Actions have consequences. Did your parents not teach you this Sony? At any time did it occur to you that by depicting the death of North Korea’s “Dear Leader”, a man who is thought of as a god, that perhaps you might enrage his son? Again, a man who is bat shit crazy? No, you just saw dollar signs.

Perhaps I am being too hard on you. Maybe someone from Sony went to the State Department and asked, “So…, any possibility North Korea could retaliate against us?” And after laughing at the question, the answer was “No”, you went ahead and made the movie. What could go wrong?

In today’s cyber-connected world, one in which America is no longer isolated and feared, is it really any surprise Sony was hacked? We may not like it, but we must accept the fact that what we could easily get away with a few years ago is no longer the case. Our freedom of speech, freedom of expression must take into consideration those that we target. We now live in a world of the extreme butterfly effect. Others often see what we do in the name of freedom as acts of aggression. Doesn’t anyone at Sony watch the news? Come to think of it, don’t. The news media is too busy eating its own.

Happy Tolkien Day!

Happy Tolkien Day

Happy J R.R. Tolkien Day. Did you know it is Tolkien day? Well, it is. Back in 2002 a New York Times journalist asked the chairman of the Tolkien Society if the society had an official “day” something like the James Joyce Society has. They did not, but after much debate the society chose an important date from the book for the reading day. March 25th, is the Downfall of Sauron.

In celebration of Tolkien Day I offer you a few things you may not know about J R. R. Tolkien!

John Ronald Reuel (JRR) Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State (currently part of South Africa). At the age of three his mother took him and his brother back to her native England. His father died in South Africa shortly after they left.

Tolkien’s mother taught him Latin when he was 8! Around this time he also started to make up his own languages. This hobby would serve him well when writing The Lord of The Rings. Tolkien maked up a real language for the elves (Elvish) .

Tolkien served during World War 1 but was shipped home after being coming sick. It was during his recovery that he started writing a collection of short stories that would become The Silmarillion. Many of these tales take place long before the Hobbit.

In 1921, Tolkien was offered a post at the University of Leeds. During his tenure, he collaborated with E.V. Gordon on an acclaimed translation of the Middle-English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, published by Oxford University Press in 1925.

In the 1930s, Tolkien, C S Lewis and other scholars, authors and philosophers met as a group that they dubbed The Inklings. In the meetings the scholars shared their work and talked philosophy. It was during this time that he started to write a story for his children that would eventualy become The Hobbit. A friend read the book and urged Tolkien to publish it. In 1937 the world was introduced to what would be become one of the best selling trilogies of all time.

Tolkien’s publisher wanted an immediate sequel but it would take Tolkien 15 years to come up with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Tolkien used many of the stories he had written years ago to fashion a storyline that span generations. It was the publisher’s idea to break the book up into a trilog . The books were published in 1954 &1955.

It took 10 years for them to become best sellers, when affordable paperbacks came into fashion.

The success of the books took Tolkien by surprise. The popularity of the books overwhelmed him and he withdrew from the public eye. Though Tolkien was invited to speak about the books, he was reluctant to do so. He felt the work should speak for themselves; what we think we know about the meaning behind the books is actually based on what scholars have come up with. Tolkien never said these were anti-war books; this is a popular myth that will not die, started by a scholar who was obsessed with all things Middle Earth.

There are many reasons why the trilogy became so popular. Some scholars feel the trilogy is the modern Odyssey, while others see the books as just what the world needed after experiencing two World Wars. The books clearly define heroes and villains at a time when real life in the early 20th century had blurred the lines between the two. Readers love a good myth and Tolkien has certainly given us a great modern myth. These are books that transcend culture, race and religion; which may be why they have been translated into so many languages. Readers worldwide have their own reasons for loving these book, many read the books without knowing anything scholars think we should. Though there are college and high school classes devoted to Tolkien most readers fall in love with his books without having to understand why.

Happy Tolkien Day! If you have read any of this books I would love to hear which is your favorite and why.