Saturday, December 20, 2014

Much Ado About Nothing: The Pointless Fuss Over "The Interview"

Yeah, you knew this was coming...

For those of you who have been living under a rock recently, "The Interview" is a movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as two television personalities who get the chance of a lifetime: a one-on-one interview with North Korean leader Kim Jung-un. But when the CIA recruits them to kill the dictator, things get crazy...

Or at least that is the impression we get. We do not really know for sure because not long before the film was set to be release, suspected North Korean hackers launched a cyberattack on its producer, Sony Pictures, releasing a flood of private information in retaliation for making the movie. After theaters refused to show it, Sony decided to pull the plug on the picture altogether.

Before we get into this discussion, let's take a look at the trailer:

Looks pretty stupid, doesn't it? Apparently the fate of North Korea depends on whether Rogen can stick something up his butt or not. I'll be honest, if it were not for this whole incident, I probably would not have even seen this film, at least not in theaters. Maybe there are better parts, I don't know. Just did not quite cut it for me...

Now, there has been a lot of discussion about its merits. Should we be making a movie about the assassination of a real leader? Should the film about a guy residing over a brutal regime be taken more seriously? Is it brave or is it stupid, if not reckless? These are all legitimate arguments that people have had, and which I admit to being a participant in. But I have come to a realization: in a way, all these discussions are irrelevant. We are all (again, I'm including myself on this one) basing this on assumptions made about a movie that only a handful of people have actually gotten a chance to see (aside from various clips, including the leaked footage of the Dear Leader's death scene). Maybe we can have that discussion when it is released (as I predict it will, eventually). But for now, we are left in the dark.

So why aren't we getting to see it? We can blame Sony or the movie theaters (there is some controversy at the moment over who is really responsible for the cancellation) all we want and with some justification. But at the end of the day, we know who the real culprit is: a frumpy man-child who rules his country with an iron-fist, yet throws a hissy fit due to the fact that the two stoners from "Pineapple Express" are big meanies!

And to think, he could have been spending his valuable time eating...whatever the hell this is...

But for argument's sake, let's say the tables were reversed: say North Korea made a movie about two guys who try to assassinate President Obama. How would we react? Well, we would be outraged by it. But you know what would happen next? We would probably forget about it within a week. It is not because we do not take threats against our leaders seriously; it is because we know that North Korea is a backwards place and the film would just be a typical piece of propaganda to achieve their motives. And if we were to try to stop it from being shown, at best it would make us look petty and hypocritical for stifling "free speech." By that same standard, while Kim Jung-un and his close advisers may be offended, they also (might) well know that "The Interview" is (again, as far as can tell) a stupid movie about stupid guys acting stupidly.

So why all the fuss? While it is practically impossible to tell at this point, there is a chance that this had nothing to do with the movie at all. This might be part of a political power-play between the U.S. and North Korea, with the movie being used as an excuse to rock the boat. But the intent was clear. After all, "[t]he cinema occupies an important place in the overall development of art and literature. As such it is a powerful ideological weapon for the revolution and construction." This is a quote from a 1987 essay written by Kim Jung-il, a notorious cinephile. So if Kim Jng-un is anything like his late father (who was no stranger to being mocked onscreen), he knows how movies effect people, whether making them laugh, cry, or as we have see, angry.

If this whole incident has shown us anything, it reveals what happens when you take things too far. If "The Interview" was allowed to be shown as it was intended to, it is likely that people would have either seen it and gotten a laugh out of it, seen it and scoffed at it, or simply dismissed it altogether and gone to see "Unbroken" instead. Now when people do see it (as I said, eventually), regardless of the actual message and quality of the film, it will now be seen as a sacred symbol of the First Amendment that will be used to "stick it" to the Dear Leader as opposed to what it might have been: the movie where Seth Rogen sticks something up his butt (assuming it is the only one...). In any case, it appears that Kim Jung-un really did bite off more than he could chew [insert another fat joke here].

Oh, and guess who will go laughing all the way to the bank at the end of this?:

"Hahaha," indeed.

I do not own the rights to any of these links, videos or pictures. They are being used for entertainment purposes only, so please don't sue me...or hack me.