The so-called “Guardians of Peace” who hacked Sony Entertainment in November have now promised not-so-peaceful 9/11 type attacks on theaters that show the movie The Interview. Scheduled for release on Christmas day, Actors Seth Rogan and James Franco play journalists in this controversial action-comedy. Rogen and Franco’s characters are recruited by the C.I.A. to assassinate Kim Jong Un while on a press trip to interview the North Korean dictator
When United States officials confirmed early on Wednesday that the hack was sanctioned by North Korean officials, Sony Entertainment cancelled The Interview’s release, removed it from its website and has no plans of releasing in theaters.
Celebrities took to Twitter to voice their opposition. Famed comedian writer/director Judd Apatow said, “I think it is disgraceful that these theaters are not showing The Interview. Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?” Late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted back to Apatow saying, “I agree wholeheartedly. An un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent.” Controversial film-maker Michael Moore said, “Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I’d also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers.”
While I agree with Michael Moore’s plea for fewer rom-coms and Michael Bay movies, I cannot speak to the credibility of the received threats. I can’t say confidently whether or not Sony made a good decision to pull the film. After all, a movie of this sort does not stand on high moral ground, but free speech is something that Americans do and should stand for.
When the Israelites were in exile in Babylon, they faced death if they did not obey the royal decrees. Daniel, during the rule of Darius, was a high ranking official and had favor with the king. His adversaries looked for corruption in him, but found none. They said, “”We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God” (Daniel 6:5). These men schemed to flatter Darius into making a decree that all must pray to the king for a 30 day period and anyone who prayed to any other god would be thrown into the lion’s den. A series of events follow. In short, Daniel prays to God; Daniel is thrown into the lion’s den; God shuts the mouths of the lions. If it’s been awhile since you’ve read Daniel 6, go revisit it and see Daniel’s fruit for Daniel’s faithfulness to God.
While Daniel faced great persecution from a ruling authority many years ago, a similar persecution is prevalent today. This year, Iraqi Christians have been like Daniel and suffered persecution and genocide from a different Darius, known as ISIS. Believers around the world risk their earthly lives when they pray and worship the God of the Bible.
Jesus’ famous teaching in Matthew 5 can be a bit confusing when it comes to this subject. He teaches: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” (v. 38-41). Dr. Jim Denison explains that “our Lord’s words related to personal slander rather than self-defense or war. The left hand was never used in public in Jesus’ culture. As a result, if I strike you on the right cheek with my right hand, I must slap you with the back of my hand. This is not a life-threatening attack but an insult.”
Sony Entertainment decided to pull The Interview in fear that the threats might be valid and there would be blood on their hands. In essence, they decided that this was not a battle worth fighting or a cause worthy of human lives.
Were they right to let themselves be bullied into submission? I don’t know. Did they set a precedent for terrorists to manipulate media in the future? Maybe. Were the executives at Sony equipped and prepared to make the decision of whether or not to risk lives? No. They make movies.
We as Christians are equipped, but are we prepared? We have the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of Christ. Before you rush into battle and before you bow to cultural gods, think of Daniel and Jesus.
May we be real guardians of peace.