Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The New Yorker Likes Sony’s “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” and Sony is Furious

Last year, David Fincher brought us “The Social Network”; now he has “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  I’m excited to see the new one, mostly because it’s a David Fincher movie, but also because New Yorker film critic David Denby calls it “sensational” and “mesmerizing.”

That’s good for Sony, the people who paid the bill for “Dragon Tattoo,” right? Nope. Terrible, says Sony.

The studio is livid that the New Yorker is running Denby’s review today, more than a week ahead of a Dec. 13 embargo. Why does the studio care? If you want a good explanation of modern-day movie marketing and the push-pull between filmmakers and film reviewers, check out this lucid explainer from NPR’s Linda Holmes.

But for everyone else, this won’t matter at all. New Yorker readers (and now, drive-by visitors as well, since the review has been placed in front of  the magazine’s online paywall) will see the review, and a larger group of people will have a vague idea that the New Yorker likes it. That’s about it.

And that’s the moral for folks like myself in the technology-news-industrial complex, who spend way too much time thinking about, fighting with and cursing embargoes. This stuff can matter a lot (sometimes) to us, but that’s really only because we decide to agree that it matters. Readers don’t care at all.

I’d spend more time explaining this, except that if you care about this at all, you’ve already read many boring essays about it — perhaps even today! And I can’t tell you that I’m swearing off embargoes, because I can’t — I worked with three of them last week, have probably at least one more embargoed story coming this week and, I’m sure, many more down the road.

But this is a nice reminder that every time I do deal with one of these, it almost always means I’m not spending time on something geniunely interesting. Like news no one else is writing about, or a fresh take on something everyone else has already written about. Or even seeing a good movie.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work