Gone With The Data: a Sony Classic

Gone With The Data: a Sony Classic
Russell Imrie, Montreal, Dec 2014

Sony Pictures as we know it will not survive the hack of 2014. One of the leading entities of Western Civilization’s dominant achievements—its historic ascendancy over mass entertainment and its evolved muscular organism of production, the cellular structure of deals and finance, of formal and informal artistic neural relationships and the darwinian synapses of expertise that are the tissues of the American film industry we know and love is torn, the patient in extremis, extent of injuries unknown at this time.

Sony Pictures is no longer the teller of a story. Its mortal life crisis is now the story itself and metastasis is plain to see. Deloitte &Touche pay scales made their way through sloppy tech hygiene to Sony’s network and are there for you to read. Untold numbers of private transactions are laid bare. What’s next? A relapse and exhuming of ancient Coca-Cola employee romances? Hush-hush deals at Tri-Star? Sylvester Stallone’s gardner’s tweets?

What’s next is a frantic damage-control campaign, extortionately expensive and either a failure or leaving an organism, a system, so locked-down as to forever stifle the creative energy of a leader of an industry that is the lifeblood of a species of popular culture. If a deliberate strategy of North Korea using hired-gun freelance hackers or an inside job by a pissed-off ex-employee, the hacking of Sony Pictures exploits a fragile system. It pales too, compared to the wider chaos we would see when hardwired Windows 3 control devices and non-updatable Unix control networks for public utilities are hacked. A sequel perhaps? But I digress prematurely.

Sony Pictures, like every multinational [entertainment] enterprise today, is evolved through mergers and acquisitions of [artistic] property and its producers. Network systems and policies of shifting teams are mashed together for projects then dispersed. Their logins, passwords, employment records, sexts, and unpleasant termination hits live like, for-ev-er on servers of (alleged) variable provenance sometimes accessed by laptops compromised by inconsistent security.

The house of Sony Pictures will be crippled by self-inflicted over-continence, at least as the agile pipeline that brought us so many art films and blockbusters. If a parable works here, are we seeing a scripted narrative feature ending in resolution and positive value reinforcement or is it a patient number one documentary in the genre of the unending grainy cable TV screens of WWII? Is the story then a portent for a culture shaken by the magnitude of its frailty? 

As film is wont to do, dramatizing history for changing audience tastes and needs, the compelling drama of Sony’s Fall 2014 Blockbuster Hack will totally render out a classic of these times, for the ages. But maybe not the way a Sony Pictures would really intend.

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