Neil Calloway is amused but disappointed by the release of emails from Sony…
It’s an old adage that show business is High School with money, and the release of emails that followed the hacking of Sony Pictures seems to prove it’s just like Mean Girls or Heathers, but where people earn $3 million dollar salaries and spend their days making films instead of hanging out at the mall.
The whole thing has the makings of a bad film; even the group apparently responsible for the hack “Guardians of Peace” sound they’re named after a sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy. Throw in salacious bitching about stars, the possibility of North Korean involvement and we’re hooked. I’d be very surprised if right now someone wasn’t pitching a film about it. Given that the new Michael Mann film is about hackers, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a huge publicity stunt, but it turns out that Blackhat is released by Universal, not Sony.
Of course, the hack was illegal, and the distribution of private information disturbing (I wouldn’t like my emails seen by everyone), and the personal details released are not only of huge stars, but the ordinary men and women who work for Sony. The release of films online will hurt livelihoods, and though it’s hard to feel sympathy for a huge multinational like Sony, a crime was committed that none of us would like to be the victim of.
Having said that, the individual emails are often hilarious. My personal favourite is the email stating “Seems like we just reboot old product instead of coming up with new ideas like the Hunger Games.” Seriously, who sent this? Which studio executive thinks a film franchise based on a successful book series is a new idea? More depressing is the news that Sony are planning yet another Spider-Man reboot. The third such series of films in the 21st Century. I presume Sony has an “Executive in charge of Spider-Man reboots” on their payroll, whose sole job is to come up with the names of young actors who can play Peter Parker and match them up with a currently hot director. Nice work if you can get it, but hardly in line with their desire not to “reboot old product”.
Producer Scott Rudin’s description of Angelina Jolie as “minimally talented” is impressive; if you can call an Oscar winning actress who has directed a couple of films, raised six children and found time to be a human rights campaigner “minimally talented” then you must know some pretty talented people. To be honest, I was quite disappointed that the Cleopatra film Jolie wanted to make would be a biopic of the Ancient Egyptian, and not the girl group who had a few hits in the late 1990s. The emails between Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal are a little more troubling. A back and forth exchange about what films Barack Obama would like included only films dealing with slavery or the civil rights movement. It truly is like reading emails from teenagers and teenagers who aren’t very smart at that. “Hollywood liberals” is a pejorative term used by those on the right, but these show that the sort of people the epithet is often aimed at people like Rudin and Pascal (Pascal donated to Obama’s re-election campaign) isn’t very accurate; Hollywood liberals aren’t very liberal. If you hacked my emails (and if any North Koreans are reading this, please don’t hack my emails) you’d find me bitching about people, but you wouldn’t find me making bad race based jokes. Emails from George Clooney about his desire to make a film based on the tabloid phone hacking scandal show that he sends emails that only use lower case letters. So much for him being an intellectual.
The leaks also shed light on the fact that the gender pay gap also exists in Hollywood. One of the emails released showed that Jennifer Lawrence was on a lower percentage of the gross of American Hustle until her agents got her a better deal. I don’t know about you, but Lawrence deserves at least the same money as Bradley Cooper simply for singing Live and Let Die in her yellow rubber gloves as she cleans.
Sexism and racism are not pretty, and Sony and others implicated will have to work hard to regain credibility (maybe a Spider-Man reboot would help? Perhaps not), but they could restore at least some goodwill by embracing the release of embarrassing information. Every Sony film should be preceded by a re-enactment of the email exchanges, preferably starring the people involved. I’d watch a new Spider-Man film (which we all know is coming soon) if it came with a short film of Angelina Jolie getting screamed at by a producer, or of someone explaining what capital letters are to George Clooney. Over to you, Sony…
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future installments.