UPDATE: After NATO (National Association of Theater Owners) gave theatres the okay to not screen The Interview, major theatre chains jumped at the opportunity (No theatre wants to deal with a bomb threat over airing a film). With no place to screen the movie, the theatrical release has officially been canceled. The post below are my thoughts on The Interview merely hours before this final development. The question now will be if it is released on VOD or eat all their $50M plus losses?
The Interview comes out on Christmas Day and has been stirring up controversy for the past few months now. However, with it’s release right around the corner, publicity is kicking into overdrive. However, the threats are also kicking into overdrive to as it is being rattled by repeated attempts to scare the movie from release. Most recently, the New York City premiere was canceled after threats were made on the hosting theatre. Stars Seth Rogen and James Franco have pulled out of all public events in the upcoming time to the release. Heck, theatres are even debating whether they want to actually show the movie here at all.
The Interview is a comedy about a talk show host (played by James Franco) who is given the opportunity to interview Kim Jong Un. The host and his producer (played by Seth Rogen) are essentially given access to a country that is cut off to most Americans. The government sees this as an opportunity to take out the leader of North Korea through these hapless idiots. It’s supposed to be a commentary about how influential media can be. More importantly it’s supposed to be a comedy. A movie meant to not take seriously, but to laugh, not at Kim Jong Un, but the ridiculous characters.
All of this leads me to my main point, The Interview may be a bit callous in it’s subject matter considering it’s a living person being targeted from a country that isn’t allies with the releasing country. Things are essentially a mess when it comes to this movie. With hacks lead against Sony and threats made on events, it’s coming to a point where this movie is becoming dangerous.
I’m not a person who likes to real delve into politics because on a whole, I honestly don’t have the energy or patience to argue or let someone yell at me over their views on a particular topic. This topic however is reaching a point where it is encroaching on my enjoyment. I’ll openly admit, that I wasn’t eager to see The Interview, but I did figure I would check it out when it gets its second wind on home video. I am not comfortable with that seems to be repeated attempts to silence the film into submission by making it clear that this group will not stop until the release of The Interview is halted.
This is a movie slated for release in the US. In the US we thrive on the freedom of freedom of speech. Unfortunately, freedom of speech is complicated. It allows you the ability to speak your mind. It doesn’t however allow you the freedom to say what you wish without public indictment. There are things you can say, that you shouldn’t necessarily. Not because you don’t believe it or you don’t feel strongly, but because if the tables were turned you would carry an angry torch in opposition. You can speak and you may suffer the consequences of that speech. As long as it is not harmful, for the most part you are generally in the clear. This movie while a comedy, can be considered harmful. The movie is poking the bear. Sure, the action is harmless and ultimately innocent. However, the bear is sleepy and grumpy and poking the bear may not be smart. We’ve known for months now that Kim Jon Un is not happy with it. The bear has roared. And the bear is still being poked. Soon it will bite.
This may sound like I’m of the mind that The Interview should not be released. In that, you are absolutely wrong. I think The Interview should be released, but with the full knowledge of the potential repercussions. We can’t hide our heads in the sand, clinging to the notion that all nations view and accept things like we do. We need to understand and respect that what we may see as comedy they will see as not just an expression of comedy produced by a miniscule subsect of the populace, but as an insult from an entire nation (Mind you, it is produced by Sony, a Japanese company). It’s freedom of speech. As long as we understand the potential consequences, weigh your options and choose. Release it, watch it, laugh (or not), then judge if it deserves it’s condemnation. Doing so before ever seeing it, will mean you will never understand, you can only guess.