Sean Penn on Sony Pulling “The Interview”: This Sends ISIS an “Invitation”

In an email to Mother Jones, the actor says if the US, China, Russia, and UN don’t react strongly, global culture will be “very different.”

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/erprofe/4724823792/in/photolist-8cvXvb-hEYNoY-2P71Hf-6kTcnY-651KWA-e43nmU-ddL7yX-ddL9qd-ddL7ht-ddL8b8-ddL7qF-ddL7Wq-ddL9J9-6aPHT4-46tV8Y-64fFdq-e4j2SP-5j5GuW-ec3UxR-5Zoiz1-6Qr8Ry-ddL7Nd-ddL8ie-651JY9-ixfAhR-2P6LNN-4qoffb-odzfU1-5jmK8n-KMXxW-e4pDcb-e4j2UF-z9nFM-KNbkZ-KMVfy-odzfUb-81tQQ9-76J9s4-KNbmv-9Kgyhz-T8Ds3-ddL5Q8-61jqwR-bueQuT-bueQqn-bueQqV-bueQtX-bueQsz-bueQrT-bueQuv"> Juanky Pamies Alcubilla </a>/Flickr

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Actor and activist Sean Penn, no surprise, has some thoughts about the Sony hacking and the movie studio’s decision to pull The Interview after cyber-saboteurs linked (by the FBI) to North Korea threatened moviegoers and theaters. Here’s a statement Penn sent me:

It’s not the first time culture has been threatened by foreign interests and corporate caution. See [then Disney CEO] Michael Eisner’s interview with Charlie Rose in 1997, when Disney was dealing with pressure from China about Martin Scorcese’s Tibet film, Kundun. Eisner said, “we do not take, as a company, a position either in human rights or not in human rights. We are a movie company. We’re an entertainment company.” That was a pretty shocking statement. (Disney, which was looking to expand its ventures in China, did end up distributing the film, but distribution was limited and the advertising budget was low—and despite these concessions, Disney was largely frozen out of the Chinese markets for years.) This week, the distributors who wouldn’t show The Interview and Sony have sent ISIS a commanding invitation. I believe ISIS will accept the invitation. Pandora’s box is officially open.

The damage we do to ourselves typically outweighs the harm caused by outside threats or actions. Then by caving to the outside threat, we make our nightmares real. The decision to pull The Interview is historic. It’s a case of putting short term interests ahead of the long term. If we don’t get the world on board to see that this is a game changer, if this hacking doesn’t frighten the Chinese and the Russians, we’re in for a very different world, a very different country, community, and a very different culture.

I’m not sure the world has come to terms with all the implications of the hacking. I was in Liberia and Sierra Leone right at the beginning of the Ebola outbreak in April. It did seem to those of us there that the response was neither coming swiftly or with a true sense of urgency. This feels the same. This matter should be before the UN Security Council today.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up to $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Corporations and billionaires don’t fund journalism like ours that exists to shake things up. Instead, support from readers allows Mother Jones to call it like it is without fear, favor, or false equivalence.

And right now, a longtime friend of Mother Jones has pledged an incredibly generous gift to inspire—and double—giving from online readers. That's huge! Because you can see that our fall fundraising drive is well behind the $325,000 we need to raise. So if you agree that in-depth, fiercely independent journalism matters right now, please support our work and help us raise the money it takes to keep Mother Jones charging hard. Your gift, and all online donations up $94,000 total, will be matched and go twice as far—but only until the November 9 deadline.

$400,000 to go: Please help us pick up the pace!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate