What North Korea Might Have to Do With Your Camera

This rather strong On Sony statement by respected camera reviewer Lloyd Chambers caught my attention:

I’ll continue to objectively review Sony cameras and lenses because they are in the market and a major player.

As for myself, I have firmed up my previous reluctance to invest my money in Sony products. Along with a revolting phone call experience last spring with Sony personnel, Sony’s checkered ethical history (which continues today with outgoing attacks on Web sites), the Sony incompetence on their own security coupled with the Sony worst practice of a “root” updater Sony camera firmware, and now the whole spineless movie release thing, my discomfort with Sony has turned into contempt. This is not a company I wish to support with my spending. At the same time, I feel no need to have that view adopted by anyone else; I am simply expressing how Sony looks to me as a a company. Vote with your own wallet as you see fit.

Doesn’t happen too often that gear issues become geopolitical. In the aftermath one could read inspiring outpourings of nationalism such as, “If I had one of their cameras I’d paint out their logo or sell it in response to their total surrender to North Korea.”

Censored creativity -- but why blame Sony?
Censored creativity — but why blame Sony?
Granted, it’s an act of cowardice to give in to absurd anonymous political pressure — I assume you’re well aware of the saga surrounding Sony’s pulled movie The Interview. Don’t forget, the headquarters of Sony are within Pyongyang’s medium-range missile reach. Still, barking dogs do not bite.

Whoever in the name of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened Sony and by now the U.S., whoever is behind this ridiculous attempt to pressure free speech, creativity and the free world altogether, whoever takes fiction for reality deserves our utmost contempt and not to be taken for real. Even more so because in the film Kim’s actually a pretty cool guy.

Sony is not to blame. They’re an Asian company not used to face pressure head-on. Encouraged by a global uproar Sony will release the film one way or the other. Whoever tried to prevent the release of the film will in the end be responsible for making The Interview one of the most popular films. Simply because prohibition attracts interest.

Sony now, on the other hand, is a company so big the head often doesn’t know what the brain thinks. One leg walks this way, the other one that way. The Sony empire produces everything entertainment. What wonder that some of its divisions perform better, some worse.

It’s not the job of Sony’s Hollywood division to make some kind of principled stand. Their job is to run a business and make a profit in the face of liability concerns. Which begs the question what any of this has to do with Sony’s camera business, a completely separate entity within Sony’s vast corporate empire. It’s exactly this imaging division that dares to take the big bulls by the horns. A nobody a few years ago, now even Canon is rumored to soon be using a Sony-derived sensor…

Credit where credit is due. Forget the keyboard warriors and tough Internet guys. The Interview saga isn’t just evil mischief. It’s lawyers and public perception that grounded the movie. For now. In the long run the cyberterrorism threats will turn out as a movie’s best publicity campaign ever. Nevertheless, Sony should be aware that it has as a consumer and entertainment company it has an obligation to stand up for freedom and free speech. That’s why they better start working on the sequel, The Interview II. Kim will be happy to learn that Hustler’s Larry Flynt promised to release an own The Interview parody…

  • A specialist in the German TV said, that any medium skilled guy would be able to hack Sony.
    Should we believe the FBI this time? Why FBI and not CIA or NSA?
    Remember the “dangerous” weapons of Sadam Hussein and what we got from that (ok. Donald and some others earned a lot)??
    Who’s interest is it, to push North Korea into this situation?

    I like and use my Sony A7R and NEX cameras and hope, that Sony pushes the camera market into new and creative directions.

  • Omer

    Not sure what you mean by “They’re an Asian company not used to face pressure head-on.” Keep in mind this was not the first serious security breach Sony has dealt with recently. Certainly you are correct in saying lawyers and perception were involved in the decision to shelve the film, yet paradoxically that suggests a tremendous arrogance toward Sony’s customers. Even though companies such as Sony, Microsoft, Apple, et al. are not public servants, considering the leverage they hold on the public trust large corporations are indeed indebted with social responsibility. Sure, it’s all muddled by capitalism but that is why large companies must be called out. Does Sony have your credit info?

  • Michael D

    Sony lost their right to take the high road when they backed a jackass movie making the assassination of a foreign leader into a joke. I’m surprised you don’t get that.

  • Kim was as cool in the movie as his death was surreal. Not that I liked the flick, but I’ve seen worse. It’s a whole different story whether creativity has to ignore real life and facts. Only those who take those for real are to blame for “misunderstandings.”

  • One More Thought

    Boy, talk about an overreaction. It’s interesting that this whole issue has largely faded and the Sony hate has died down now.

    The only real concern I’d have is how secure Sony servers are with customer info.