The Interview: Hollywood ignorance at its prime

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I wonder how the American people would respond if a foreign high-budget film flashed a fiery scene depicting the gruesome death of President Obama. Allow me to suggest that the country would be beside itself. A direct attack on American pride would have the media reeling with exaggerated messages of terrorist threats and foreign enemies. Relations between the two countries would plummet, and American tension and skepticism toward these foreigners would surely increase.

This is why I find it immensely disconcerting that Hollywood feels it can film such offenses without consequence. Many Westerners claim that Seth Rogen’s new film The Interview, depicting the fictional assassination of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, is a comedic tool for freedom of expression.

This “freedom of speech” excuse has pelted my ears so often that I wonder how nobody else realizes this film is the epitome of Hollywood ignorance, and should never have been produced.

In response to promotion for the film, Sony Pictures’ data was hacked in November, resulting in the release of private and often embarrassing information, as well as threats of terrorism against cinemas screening the film. Among other things, the hack has since angered the defensive US — its relations with North Korea have already nose-dived through a slew of accusations and threats.

I’m left wondering why Seth Rogen, his filmmaking squad, and Sony themselves didn’t bother to conduct a little research into the festering tensions between these two countries in recent years. After North Korea threatened in January 2013 to unleash a nuclear test against the US, “the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” you’d think these filmmakers would adopt a little common sense. When a Korean spokesperson this past June denounced The Interview as an “act of war” and promised a “merciless countermeasure,” you’d assume Hollywood would stop to think past itself.

These rich, white celebrities are blind to the world outside the American entertainment industry.

Rather, I read disappointingly shallow statements in The New York Times from Rogen and his buddy and co-star James Franco, who argued “they don’t have freedom of speech [in North Korea], so they don’t get that people make stuff.” Apart from sounding completely childish, statements like this only confirm that these rich, white celebrities, backed by Sony, are very much blind to the world outside the American entertainment industry.

Westerners often feel their democratic freedoms allow them to mock foreign countries’ political regimes as being ‘inferior’ or ‘barbaric’ in comparison, but we must remember that countries ruled by tyrannical autocracies do exist and have real global power. To flaunt one’s ignorance and create a film that mocks such political regimes and their public figures is antagonistic, arrogant and potentially dangerous.

Many may argue that comedies like The Daily Show poke fun at North Korea on a regular basis. However, The Interview is an entire creative work that explicitly satirizes the country’s dictatorial nature. With North Korean political colours, missiles, and Kim Jong-un’s head plastered on the film’s theatrical poster, I can understand how this would be taken as a direct insult. The film derides the North Korean government and humanizes its ‘almighty’ leader; any Korean citizen in possession of this film could be subject to brutality.

Kim Jong-un, a man of merely 31 years, still has a lifetime ahead of him before he passes the autocratic torch to the next generation. Those in Hollywood must realize that reality exists outside the ‘land of the free,’ and that the ‘home of the brave’ should really exercise caution when it comes to depictions of evil authoritarian leaders — especially those who are still in power.

2 COMMENTS

  1. We made a comedy of an attack on North Korea, North Korea themselves makes government propaganda videos weekly about attacks on the U.S homeland, they sing songs about making us “beg on our knees”, and threaten to destroy us constantly. All that aside, they are also a horrible country. Over 500,000 held in concentration camps for minor offences that would never be crimes in any other country. They are actively attempting to build up a nuclear arsenal and threaten to use it against us.

    The Interview was a movie, not an actual threat of war, get over yourself.