Movie producer Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures Co-chair Amy Pascal could have been spared the ignominy of having had their true feelings about Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, and President Obama bared to the world. Like most perfect solutions to complex mysteries in formulaic Hollywood scripts, the answer to their bitchy-gossip breach was staring them right in the face all the time, sitting there on their desks in the form of stacks of unopened Christmas cards.
The U.S. Mail.
When Rudin emailed Pascal that “YOU BETTER SHUT ANGIE DOWN,” releasing those damning capital letters into the digital sphere and eventually onto every website from TMZ to WSJ, he had chosen the wrong medium. To be sure, it would have taken a few more days to inform Pascal of his mind-set with a letter, but he could have written the ultimatum in inch-high block letters using a purple Magic Marker and glitter and no one would have been the wiser.
And who knows? Slowing down the vicious pace of Rudin’s and Pascal’s digital skirmish might have sucked some of the vitriol out of it. Maybe Pascal would have viewed Rudin’s “shut Angie down” note with more of a sense of amusement and, minus access to the ready reply arrow atop the email page, she might not have responded, “Do not f—ing threaten me.” Perhaps Rudin would have cooled down a bit and not called Jolie a “minimally talented spoiled brat.”
Digital communications become more and more difficult to protect, because the truth is that all the great minds do not toil in Silicon Valley. From inviolate strongholds in places like Estonia, Croatia, and China, teams of crafty code writers find new ways to hack the digital doings of corporations. They’re the incurable side-effect of our easy-going technological times. Leaders of data security companies are known to caution that it’s not a matter of “if” a company will be hacked, but “when.”
And maybe if the safe U.S. Mails were used, Kim Jong Un might not have intercepted the Pascal-Rudin dialogs and used them to sideline The Interview, costing Sony Pictures as much as $90 million and robbing millions of proud Americans of their First Amendment right to see the leader of a nation’s head explode at the culmination of a wacky bromedy.
Such inalienable rights remain sacrosanct at the Postal Service, an agency whose leader, in simpler times, was a member of the president’s cabinet. It was much easier for Kim’s North Korean henchmen to intercept the Internet than it would have been for them to knock over the Sony Pictures mailroom. Don’t forget, an added service that comes with the purchase of a stamp is the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, a police force that actually arrests people who interfere with the path a piece of mail takes between the Blue Box on the sender’s corner and the mailbox on the receiver’s door.
Hollywood moguls like private police forces. So just think, Amy and Scott, how different the world would look to you today if only you had pulled out some of that pricey, high-rag-content stationery you keep in a lower drawer and dipped into your stock of Forever stamps. You might still be on speaking terms with the biggest box office attractions in the world, and we’d never have to know (courtesy of an email received by Pascal) that director David O. Russell once “got in trouble for feeling up his transgender niece’s boobs.”
I propose to incoming Postmaster General Megan Brennan that she make a trip out West when she takes over in February and call on all the studio heads. The Sony episode could impel the film industry to single-handedly boost First Class Mail by a full percentage point.