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The Sony Pictures email hack: How to survive the story that keeps on giving

By Mark Borkowski |

December 15, 2014 | 4 min read

Marlon Brando unkindly claimed "most of the successful people in Hollywood are failures as human beings". Truth or wisdom?

Sony Pictures exec Amy Pascal was caught up in the hack

Statistically 90 per cent of motor vehicle crashes are caused at least in part by human error. The mechanics of the recent Hollywood pile up are even more compelling.

Consider the media feeding frenzy surrounding the latest batch of bitchy emails, hacked from the uber entertainment gods of power Sony Pictures.

Private film mogul correspondence, leaked onto the web, proved more interesting than any bleeding truck wreck. The content of the cache of emails revealing Sony execs trashing various A-listers is proving to be one of those stories that just keeps on giving.

Are we surprised?

The hard truth is that Hollywood revolves around the business of show. Once, the audience's minds were delicately calibrated between the known and the unknown. They were happy to buy the prefabricated dreams. Success was measured in box office and not the depth of the soul.

Check the balance sheet.

The movie industry's value is at least as much an economic as a cultural concept. So any proper definition of Hollywood values ought to begin with a new realisation that the vast majority of the stuff of reality is fuel for social media, opinion and down page comments.

A few leaked emails prove that Hollywood’s inner circle collude to corral the talent. Sure they are ruthlessly bitchy and it’s embarrassing to face the truth, but the truth is something that can be dealt with.

The leaks merely confirm that the high stakes remain high. Careers follow a precarious orbit with the astonishing costs of producing major films and the "blink to make sure it's real".

So the issue moving forward isn't about the eye-watering fees various legal rottweilers will be paid to stop the media feasting on the material.

The overriding principal focuses now on leadership, strength of character and an ability to create an authentic survival narrative.

Do the incriminated execs possess the skills to deal with a crisis of this magnitude? I guess time will tell.

If they do not, they are unlikely to survive the next leak.

The new tools of news aggregation have elevated gossip, hearsay and conjecture to the level of valid, mainstream communication. It demands a different set of professional values to cope.

From Squidgygate to Wikileaks, the Playstation hack to Snowden, not forgetting the Google breach, Lulzsec Hack, the Target Hack or Celebrity Hacks... hindsight is always 20-20 with more to come.

This underlines the currency of the age. Those recruited to lead in the future will only succeed if they are built for the new purpose of the age. Transparency and authenticity is all.

Perhaps consider the idea once posited many years ago about Hollywood peers. It was said that to succeed an exec required: “The memory of a convict, the balls of a fireman, and the eyesight of a housebreaker.”

So nothing much changes.

Don Black’s lyrics arguably captured the essence of Hollywood’s industrial complex:

Dreams are not enough to win a war.

Out here they're always keeping score,

Beneath the tan the battle rages.

Smile a rented smile; fill someone's glass,

Kiss someone's wife; kiss someone's ass.

We do whatever pays the wages.

Mark Borkowski is founder and head of Borkowski PR. You can find him on Twitter @MarkBorkowski

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