Today, after surrendering to vague and non-credible threats of violence by a group of unidentified people on the internet, Sony is reversing its reversal and putting The Interview on YouTube. You can watch it here, but don't get all self-righteous about it.
This is not a coup for Sony. This is not a victory for free speech. This is not a stand against censorship, because Sony censored itself: if the studio and its movie theater distribution partners hadn't been so craven to begin with, the film would've had a regular release like every other movie. This streaming decision is not martyrdom on Sony's part. It's not courage. It's a middling PR maneuver that comes at the urging of the United States government, after a series of other very bad PR maneuvers, and at this point, a marketing cherry atop a shit sundae. How noble for one multinational corporation to ally itself with another in defense of its bottom line.
You might be tempted to echo j-school blowhards like this one:
I just bought The Interview on Google Play. First Amendment: 1. Tyrants and hackers: 0.
— Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis) December 24, 2014
Or clap along other cornball patriots:
You can watch The Interview RIGHT NOW at https://t.co/s68HbXf57z ! Free Speech.
— Jonah Hill (@JonahHill) December 24, 2014
Google on 'Interview' release: "We could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech"
— ABC News (@ABC) December 24, 2014
But giving Sony and Google $6 to stream an unfunny Seth Rogen movie—the same Sony that's tried to silence reporters covering their debacle and threatened the entirety of Twitter—is not a victory for the first amendment (nor is it a victory for anyone, really). You won't be "standing up to" anyone, or "fighting back" against anything. Streaming The Interview isn't brave, and given its reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, streaming The Interview probably isn't fun, either. Sony had the chance to be brave last week. It chose not to. The hackers already won.