The Interview, the comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, has been yanked from theaters following the now well-publicized leak of emails from Sony Co-chairman Amy Pascal and others. There are three important things we can all learn from this communication debacle.
1. Nothing is private. If you think anything affiliated with the internet is private, don’t kid yourself. If someone built it, someone else can hack into it. Period. It’s best to operate under the assumption that there is a clear glass wall between what you write on the ‘net, what you say in public – and occasionally in private – and the entire civilized world. So, keep it classy.
2. Keep it professional. Write all email communiques as though your mother is looking over your shoulder. And if your momma was mean, write like somebody else’s momma is looking over your shoulder. It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship you have with the person you’re writing to. You could have been friends for 30 years, been intimate in a biblical sense and/or have shared a bank account or a last name. Assume someone will hack into your email and air out everything. Would your momma approve of you calling blockbuster movie stars like Angelina Jolie out of her mind? No, that’s very Mean Girl, and it’s not a good look for anyone, let alone a big wig at a studio. Again, keep it classy. I’d like to note, Angelina’s emails appear to be quite polite, professional and lucid for someone who’s supposedly crazy.
3. Racist jokes are best told in person, not on paper. It’s much easier to deny that you’re a racist if there is no email trail. Do what the best racists and anti-diversity folks do – just smile and keep that stuff to yourself until you’re in a safe place with like-minded folk. You know, rallies, people’s homes – after they’ve been swept for bugs – underground secret society meetings and such. It will mitigate the need to meet with Al Sharpton – Amy Pascal, that little zinger was just for you. This is even more important when said jokes involve the President of the United States or beloved, critically acclaimed, award-winning black actors like Denzel Washington – who is also box office gold, I might add. On a more personal note, I would like to say that I – a black female – have yet to see 12 Years a Slave, and I have no intention of doing so – one of the emails discussed whether President Obama would like to see it. Reporting on the atrocities perpetuated on black flesh is more than enough, thank you. I have no desire to watch it live in Technicolor. I bet there are a few other minorities out there who feel the same way.
And yes, this third point is mostly a joke. I don’t want anyone telling racist jokes at all. But hey, we live in the world, right? Oh, I almost forgot. There’s a fourth communication lesson here. If you plan to kill another country’s leader, even if it’s only on screen, be prepared to take what comes. Happy emailing!
This piece also appeared in Diversity Executive magazine online.