Hollywood: Cloudy Sex Tapes and Misrepresentations

As a contributor for a site that focuses on the cloud, I feel it’s important to stay on top of all the latest news trends and developments that are happening in the industry. Occasionally however, some other piece of news works its way into my feed due to some ‘buzz’ around the industry. This morning, as I was looking through the articles I saw there were almost 400 news articles relating to one topic: sex tapes, or rather the new movie ‘Sex Tape’ that was just released a few days ago.

For anyone who, like me, tries to stay away from Diaz’s latest array of film failures (cough: ‘The Other Woman’) the premise of this film goes as follows: A long married couple, Annie (Cameron Diaz) a mommy blogger, and Jay (Jason Segel) a radio station producer, try to rejuvenate their sex lives by making a ‘sex tape’ using their iPad. It sounds simple enough, but as the cinematic clichés demand, the video gets shared with all their family, friends and acquaintances – including the postman. The result goes like this:

Jay: “It went up! It went up to the cloud!”

Annie: “You can’t get it down from the cloud?”

Jay: “Nobody understands the cloud! It’s an f-ing mystery!”

Now for anyone familiar with any Apple products, which the character Jay should be, this is impossible. The film is filled with everything Apple. Jay has two iPads (with spares that he has given to his loved ones) and an iPhone. He also shares playlists on iCloud and makes multiple plugs for the latest iPad features including the video quality so he should really know a little more about the implausibility of the situation.  GQ actually called Apple support to have the impossibility of the situation verified:

 Support: you would have to make special settings for anyone to be able to see that—like a shared stream.

Caller: So videos can’t just go into the Cloud?

Support: Videos can be backed up to iCloud, but what that means is the video would be saved as, like, a backup. But you wouldn’t be able to share it with anyone. No one can go into the iCloud and watch the video.

Caller: Okay. So let’s say I made my sex video, and somehow it got into the Cloud, and then I gave iPads as gifts to a hundred of my friends and family. What are the chances they would ever get that sex video on their iPads?

Support: Impossible. They can’t connect to your iPad over, like, a network and just get info. You would be the one who has control.”

It is honestly not really that surprising that the film’s representation of the cloud is so off the mark. Hollywood has a longstanding reputation for misrepresentation in films, but one would have expected a little more from Sony Pictures. It has been speculated that at least part of the film was specially designed to be a dig at Apple with the non-user-friendliness of their products by Sony. Yet, when Segel (who in addition to starting, was one of the screenplay writers) was asked about the cloud, he told the Hollywood Reporter “I do know what it is! It’s a bank of servers somewhere that anyone really has access to for any reason — if you read the user agreement, there’s some very nebulous language about who’s allowed to look at it and why. But I’m terrified of the cloud…. We did a lot of research. Everything that happens in the movie could happen to you — it’s a cautionary tale!”

Now I for one would love to take a look at the supposed research that was conducted for this film as any cloud storage review would tell you that storing files on the cloud does not equal an open workroom that anyone has access to. There are options for sharing links but many providers can grant or remove access on a user by user basis. The only platform where the above situation would occur would be with collaboration specific services and even then the video could be removed or access revoked.

Diaz supported Hollywood’s ignorance on the topic saying that she knew, “very little, and I still don’t know very much about it! I understand it on a very basic level. But I think they used it very cleverly in this storyline, because it really is something no one really understands. I mean, we’ve done a lot of interviews, and nobody is saying, ‘Oh, what are you talking about? I got it!’ Everyone is saying, ‘Nope, nope, just don’t have any idea.’ “