Friday, December 19, 2014

Rant #1,345: "The Interview"

I am sure that you have heard that Sony Pictures has indefinitely postponed the premiere of the film "The Interview" due to concerns that violence may ensue from its opening.

This whole thing is such a stupid mess, that I thought I would talk about it here today.

I have very, very mixed feelings about the cancellation of the opening of this film, on a lot of issues, including free speech.

But on the other hand, some things are better left alone, and maybe it's a good thing that the picture won't open for the foreseeable future, if ever.

People should be able to say what they want to say, do what they want to do, act like they want to act. Those are basically the freedoms that we enjoy in this country, and why this country is the greatest one on the planet.

But there is a line that is oftentimes crossed by us, as a society, and I think that that line might have been crossed by this movie.

In a nutshell, the movie is a satirical comedy about two broadcasters who are recruited to knock off the emperor of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, or whatever they call him, their ruler, who we all know is crazy.

He hates the United States and all the free world, but he hates us so much that he loves American basketball and has actually befriended former basketball star Dennis Rodman.

He reportedly has been quite ill lately, but he has not given up his power.

Anyway, this fictitious movie actually ends with his death.

The problem that I have here is that the people involved in the film--not just Sony, but writer/star Seth Rogen and a whole lot of other people--took for granted that the movie would not only play in, let's say, Walla Walla, Washington, but also around the world, and they have found out, in a striking way, that you cannot assume that.

This movie has served as an example of why free speech is a wonderful thing, but it can go too far.

Is it free speech when you yell "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater?

Well, this film did just that to the North Koreans. Evidently, they were so incensed by the storyline of this movie that in retaliation, they--or someone else, nobody really knows who did it — were able to hack into Sony's email accounts, and make them look awful stupid.

And what's worse, the North Korean hackers--if they even are from North Korea--said that if the movie opened as scheduled, there would be dire consequences to those who attended the film in theaters, and then they brought up 9/11.

Enough. Sony closed the film.

This is probably the first time that Hollywood has ever been told "No" by anyone.

They live in their ivory towers in Tinseltown, seemingly doing whatever they want to do without any thought on their actions.

They have people there who really live the life, let's say, and we, as a public, basically give them carte blanche to do whatever they want to do.

After all, they are "show people."

Well, here is an instance where Hollywood has been told that no, you can't do that, because it could harm many, many people.

And they bowed to the pressure.

Yes, it sets quite a bad precedent, but Sony really should examine who gave the green light to this movie--and get rid of them, period.

Why did the movie have to be about an actual world ruler?

Heck, Charlie Chaplin and even the Three Stooges have satirized various horrid rulers in the past by making them purely fictional, even if everyone knew who they were talking about.

Doesn't just about every James Bond film deal with some crazy ruler who is going to take over the world?

But these are fictional monarchs, not real ones.

Why did this film have to be about an actual ruler, someone we know is a complete nut and one in a country which not only doesn't like us, but a country that we don't yet really know or can gauge the capability of, in terms of weapons and reach?

No, this was completely irresponsible filmmaking, as far as I am concerned, and even though I am all for free speech, being a journalist myself, I am really for responsible free speech, not anything near what this film would have espoused.

I mean, the guy dies at the end. Did they really think that this would play around the world, and that North Korea would be OK with this?

I think we, as a country, would react much differently if a filmmaker from overseas would release a film about the murder of President Barack Obama. We would pretty much be outraged, I am sure we would pretty much boycott the film, but I don't think we would threaten anyone with harm about it.

But we are dealing with a country and a culture that we know very little about, and pissing them off like this was completely irresponsible.

And what came out in the emails was so embarasssing ... remember in school when we were taught that "The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword? ... well that has almost been replaced by "The Electronic Messages are Mightier Than the Sword."

Those emails also showed the complete lack of responsibility by the writers of those emails, showing how they speak out of both sides of their mouths about our President.

Did they not understand that like those nude photos of famous actresses that were posted a while back that once you put up something electronically, it is ripe for the taking by people who know how to do this?

Do they understand now?

So as you can see, I am quite conflicted about this entire incident. We don't know the extent of the hacker's reach, and we don't know what, if anything, they would have done if the movie opened.

But better not to know, not to experience any possible destruction over really what is just a plain stupid movie.

Will the movie ever see the light of day? Who knows?

If we can open diplomatic relations with Cuba after so many years, maybe years in the future, when North Korea is our friend, this movie can open and we can all laugh about what went on in 2014.

But it is not so funny at the current time, no, this purported comedy is not so funny at all.

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