Embarrassing: Sony Pictures boss’ shockingly-racist Obama emails exposed
A leaked email chain between Sony Pictures Chairwoman Amy Pascal and film producer Scott Rudin lays bare an embarrassingly racist back-and-forth that speculated on President Barack Obama’s favorite movies.
Ahead of a November 2013 fundraiser hosted by DreamWorks Animation head and top Democratic Party donor Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rudin and Pascal exchanged thoughts on what the guest of honor, Obama, might like in the way of Hollywood films.
“What should I ask the president at this stupid Jeffrey breakfast?” Pascal wrote Rudin.
Rudin, producer of such top films as No Country for Old Men, and Moneyball, answered, “Would he like to finance some movies.”
“I doubt it. Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” Pascal replied, referring to Django Unchained, the 2012 film about a slave played by Jamie Foxx who seeks revenge on a southern slave owner.
“12 YEARS,” Rudin responded, referring to 12 Years a Slave, the story of a free man sold into slavery.
Pascal then offered other stereotypical fare starring African Americans. “Or the butler. Or think like a man? [sic]” she wrote, referring to 2013’s film The Butler, about a black man serving as a White House butler, and Think Like a Man, a romantic comedy starring a mostly-black cast.
“Ride-along. [sic] I bet he likes Kevin Hart,” Rudin responded, referring to a film starring Hart, an African-American comedian.
At the fundraiser, Obama praised Hollywood’s ability to spread the best of America to the rest of the world.
“If they’re watching an old movie — Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or Will and Grace and Modern Family — they’ve had a front-row seat to our march towards progress,” Obama said, referring to works that depicted withering social barriers involving race, gender, and sexuality. “Even if their own nations haven’t made that progress yet.”
Rudin has apologized for the leaked comments.
“Private emails between friends and colleagues written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity, even when the content of them is meant to be in jest, can result in offense where none was intended,” he told Deadline.com.
“I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive — and not funny at all. To anybody I’ve offended, I’m profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused.”
As for Pascal, a Sony spokesperson would not comment to BuzzFeed. Pascal is a generous donor to the Democrats in her own right, who gave $5,000 to Obama’s re-election campaign and $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee, according to OpenSecrets.
The email is the latest revelation in a campaign by a hacker group known as Guardians of Peace. It has targeted Sony by leaking upcoming full-length films, thousands of corporate passwords, and inside information on film deals. The impetus for the attacks apparently lies in the upcoming Sony comedy film The Interview, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, in which the pair’s characters score a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, only to be approached by the CIA about assassinating the leader.
The hacker group wants Sony to drop the film, as the North Korean government - which has denied alleged ties to the Guardians of Peace while praising their actions - has profoundly denounced the movie, saying that Sony is endorsing “terrorist acts.” In a complaint to the United Nations, North Korea’s UN Ambassador Ja Song-nam wrote that the film "involves insulting and assassinating the supreme leadership."