In a recent exclusive interview with Dallas Libertarian Examiner J. Neil Schulman, the libertarian novelist and moviemaker, offered his opinions on how he would have – and how Sony Pictures should have – handled North Korea’s threats against any theater that screened The Interview movie.
“I just had a brand-new thought that I’d like to add to my answers,” Schulman said after the initial interview article was put to bed. This time, in true libertarian fashion, he concentrates on the free market answer rather than focusing on today’s failed “fear market” responses to threats of violence. Since the answers came first the questions in this second interview had to be crafted after the fact.
How would the free market have handled this situation?
“The Interview is rated R, which means that unlike the PG-13 rated The Dark Knight where children could attend without a parent or guardian the theaters could check IDs to keep unaccompanied minors out and reduce their legal liability. Then, putting up a prominent sign in the lobby of each theater showing The Interview warning theater patrons of the heightened threat level to the theater, would have been a preemptive affirmative defense against any liability claims if an incident occurred: If the threat was foreseeable by the moviegoer as well as the theater then nobody was walking into the theater with their eyes closed to any potential terrorist danger.
“That’s how a free-market can handle this sort of terrorist intimidation in the future.”
Would this work in a real world laissez-faire society?
“Sony and the theater chains informing the public of the danger so they could have made an adult risk assessment about the dangers of attending a movie showing of The Interview would have solved the legal liability threat much better than my previous idea of sharing liability among the entertainment industry. Movie theater-goers accept liability for their own actions instead of government in legislation and legal precedents always shifting the blame to the suppliers – whether it’s tobacco consumption, fatty foods, sugary soft drinks, pharmaceuticals, roller coasters, or even buying meth or crack.
“Sony acted as if movie viewers are infants just as the government has conditioned them to do with the legislative, legal, and regulatory landscape found in today’s nanny state. That the parent company of Sony is from an even more encompassing nanny state, Japan, is not surprising.”
Many North Texans, freely making their own decisions, attended screenings of The Interview in the spirit of defying international censorship. Dallas-Ft. Worth’s KDFW Fox 4 reported that moviegoers filling the Alamo Drafthouse screening was “a blow to North Korea and a victory over censorship.” The theatre even had a special menu for the event featuring “loaded freedom fries,” “red, white & blue burger” and the “Supreme Leader’s margarita.”
Schulman reviewed The Interview on his Rational Review blog and noted that his own libertarian movie, Alongside Night, based on his award-winning 1979 novel of the same name, is awaiting wider release in 2015. Many Metroplex moviegoers saw it in September at the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas during its nationwide release to independent theaters.