Recently I have been interviewed about freedom of speech in light of the threats from North Korea and the hacking of Sony Pictures because of the film The Interview. The questions I am being asked center around this one: “Do writers need to be more careful about what they write than before?”
The answer, it would seem, is yes. But we must ask ourselves if it were absolutely necessary to name the North Korean Dictator and his country specifically? Did it actually improve the artistic value of the movie? Did it make a greater political statement? I don’t think so. This is a case where fictionalizing details, however thinly, could have prevented the large-scale attack on the Sony computer system that has hurt many individuals not connected with the film. Further, it is questionable that the film itself, which is an okay story, more of a skit, with great performances would have netted $31 million on its artistic merits, which raises another set of questions to be addressed at another time.
But it does seem the power of the word has increased exponentially, and in return the antagonism and the lengths that those factions who are afraid will go to suppress it. Sony’s decision to release the film using real names is not the fault of the filmmakers, and the question in a way, is moot. Writers write, and film corporations market. While we have to be aware of the power of our words, it is our job as writers to explore and expose the hidden parts of life, and the job of the studio to make sound marketing decisions.
Be mindful of what you write but keep in mind that one of the great legacies of democracy is freedom of speech, which must be protected at all costs.
Professor Marilyn Horowitz
copyright (c)2015 by Marilyn Horowitz