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Arts and Entertainment

George Clooney Calls Out Hollywood's Cowardice: 'We Have Allowed North Korea To Dictate Content'

Actor George Clooney arrives for the red carpet of Omega Le Jardin Secret dinner party on May 16, 2014 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
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George Clooney has offered up some smart thoughts about the totally bonkers tale of how North Korea terrorized Sony into pulling a silly buddy comedy from distribution. He gave an interview to Deadline Hollywood in which he chides the press for taking its eye off the ball, rails against Hollywood for hanging Sony out to dry and asks all of us to think seriously about what this episode might mean for the freedom of expression.

Clooney says when the hacking first started, he and his agent Bryan Lourd asked people in Hollywood to sign a petition but they couldn't find any takers. Deadline published the full statement that called on the industry to "stand together" and "fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands." Clearly that didn't happen, and Clooney says it's because everyone was acting in their self-interest. That's how, in a roundabout way, our entertainment industry found itself giving in to "Kim Jong-un, of all fucking people."

You could point fingers at Sony pulling the film, but they didn’t have any theaters, they all pulled out. By the way, the other studios were probably very happy because they had movies of their own going in for Christmas at the same cineplexes. There’s this constant circle, this feeding frenzy. What I’m concerned about is content. I’m concerned that content now is constantly going to be judged on a different level. And that’s a terrible thing to do. What we don’t need happening in any of our industries is censorship. The FBI guys said this could have happened to our government. That’s how good these guys were. It’s a serious moment in time that needs to be addressed seriously, as opposed to frivolously. That’s what is most important here.

Sony's decision to pull the movie might have been a hard, if savvy business decision, but Clooney says that it was a terrible precedent to set—and not just for the movie industry:

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With the First Amendment, you’re never protecting Jefferson; it’s usually protecting some guy who’s burning a flag or doing something stupid. This is a silly comedy, but the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this. That’s not just Sony, but all of us, including my good friends in the press who have the responsibility to be asking themselves: What was important? What was the important story to be covering here? The hacking is terrible because of the damage they did to all those people. Their medical records, that is a horrible thing, their Social Security numbers. Then, to turn around and threaten to blow people up and kill people, and just by that threat alone we change what we do for a living, that’s the actual definition of terrorism.

Clooney wants to see the movie put out, "Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie. That’s the most important part."

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