The Interview: Studios failed to close ranks to protect interests and freedom of speech


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The Independent Culture

Hollywood is known for going to extreme lengths to protect its commercial interests. Generally, when the industry is threatened, the studios will close ranks. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is a formidable lobbying organisation which has often made foreign governments back down.

In the case of the scandal surrounding Seth Rogen’s The Interview, the old solidarity seems to have crumbled. The other studios have been notably slow to come to Sony’s defence. Everybody is feeling betrayed by everybody else. The film-makers are reportedly dismayed that Sony isn’t backing them more vigorously. Sony, in its turn, is “deeply disappointed” that the country’s biggest cinema chains have decided not to show Rogen’s movie on safety grounds. Meanwhile, the other studios are clearly dismayed that Sony is causing such chaos for the industry at the end of what has been a disappointing year anyway in box-office terms.

Many in the Hollywood community are appalled at the US film industry’s sudden outbreak of moral cowardice. “Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today,” the actor Rob Lowe tweeted.

There is an obvious crisis of leadership. It is Hollywood’s misfortune that it can no longer call on the services of the late Jack Valenti, the lobbyist who led the MPAA for four decades.


The LA Times reported Chris Dodd, who heads the MPAA, and the chairman of Sony Pictures Michael Lynton “worked for a week to craft a letter of solidarity from Sony’s peers. Their efforts were initially rebuffed.”

If Mr Valenti had still been in office, it is a fair bet that he would have organised an international coalition in support of Sony. He would have moved far more quickly to address the crisis than the MPAA’s present leadership and he would have refused to allow Sony’s rivals to stay on the sidelines. “They kill each other every day in the marketplace. It’s the most virulently competitive group of companies I have ever seen in my life,” Mr Valenti commented of the US studios.