In recent months it’s been reported that Sony Pictures has been repeatedly hacked by at least one organization operating out of North Korea. In late November, computers at Sony Pictures headquarters were attacked and rendered useless. Following that, sensitive contact information was revealed for the world to see. Last week, embarrassing email exchanges were published that will no doubt lead to some lost jobs (and hurt feelings).
In an age of Anonymous defending the little guy, WikiLeaks unearthing government corruption, and ceaseless credit card theft, at least the motivations of these infections are understood. So, why is Sony Pictures being hacked?
The reason is a movie called The Interview that’s being released on Dec. 25th. The basic plot of the movie, which is merely your run-of-the-mill Seth Rogen comedy, is that two journalists land an unexpected interview with Kim Jong-un. Upon learning of this, the American CIA tasks the two journalists with assassinating the North Korean leader. Hilarity ensues. Presumably.
Justifiably, North Korea doesn’t agree that assassinating their country’s supreme leader is hilarious movie material. What’s followed is a stream of computer attacks and threats of terrorism. This all seems very alarming for a simple movie, but…I have to say, I see where North Korea is coming from on this one.
Clearly, movies these days can be very violent, but most of the time the characters being shot, bludgeoned, tortured, and killed are fictional characters often in fictional worlds. While violence in movies is a sensitive topic, I don’t think anyone has a problem that it was Darth Vader who died at the end of Return of the Jedi. (SPOILER ALERT!) But representing the death of real people? That’s not common in works of fiction. Imagine if France was making movies about the murder of President Barack Obama? I’d think we’d be rightly miffed. (Far-right conservatives aside.)
Here’s another problem I have with it: this movie is being released on…Christmas Day! Really? Hey, what better way to spend a holiday with grandma visiting from Illinois than heading to the theater, grabbing some buttered popcorn, and watching a movie about murdering an actual world leader! HAHA! Good times! Really captures the spirit of the season, don’t you think? Bring the kids along!
Now, obviously, terrorist threats against movie theaters is crossing a significant line. Perhaps it’s empty rhetoric, we don’t see many North Korean attacks in this country. Nor do we have any ex-patriots sympathetic to Kim Jong-un. Still, it would be an utter outrage to see anyone hurt or killed over a stupid movie with Seth Rogen and James Franco. (Uggg, I really can’t stand James Franco. Terrible actor. Have you seen the Spiderman movies?) The real question to be asked is, is this really necessary?
There are times to stand up for your freedom, your right to parody, and to simply to not bow down to a threat. However, why is Sony still insisting on pushing this so hard? How important to the movie is the real-life characterization of the real North Korean dictator? Can’t they easily change him to a fictional character? This is nothing new because we see this on TV and in movies all the time. Who was the President in West Wing? Independence Day? House of Cards? We always fictionalize the US President because any negative characterization would be in very poor taste and, frankly, unfair to the actual person. So why is it OK for the leader of another country?
Instead of Sony crying out “freedom!” and trying to leverage this for buzz and free publicity (because you know they are), how about we not put lives at risk for a dumb comedic film? And this isn’t about your choice to watch the movie either. There are going to be other customers, including children, watching other movies at the same time The Interview is playing at theaters. How about we all act like adults and realize this plot-line is done in poor taste and never should have been green-lit in the first place. Let’s all put on our big-boy pants and figure out a compromise here. If your movie hinges on depicting the actual North Korean leader then your movie probably isn’t very good, is it?
Maybe this sounds like negotiating with terrorists, but sometimes you have to admit your own mistakes in the first place.
One of those being casting James Franco in your movie.