In the film, Seth Rogen and company apparently offered their usual assortment of poop, stoner and erection jokes, but added some political commentary. And just like the doofuses whom James Franco and Rogen portray in the film, the writers and producers somehow wandered into North Korean territory and got in way over their heads and pay grades. That would begin with their initial pitch involving an “assassination comedy” of a living figure who has nuclear warheads and is a psychopath.
But first, let’s get a word from the grieving Hollywood “community.”
In a statement that he released shortly after Sony pulled the movie, writer/producer Aaron Sorkin said: “Today, the U.S. succumbed to an unprecedented attack on our most cherished, bedrock principle of free speech by a group of North Korean terrorists who threatened to kill moviegoers in order to stop the release of a movie. The wishes of the terrorists were fulfilled in part by easily distracted members of the American press, who chose gossip and schadenfreude-fueled reporting over a story with immeasurable consequences for the public… My deepest sympathies go out to Sony Pictures, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and everyone who worked on ‘The Interview.'”
Wow. It’s like he’s sitting shiva for a war hero, not a craven film company that has compounded its own problems with bad management and fatally dumb decision-making from Day One.
There’s so much sanctimony and solidarity coming from Tinseltown that even Rob Lowe felt compelled to tweet his earnest outrage. Mentioning that he ran into Seth Rogen in the airport, he wrote: “Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today.” He gets the honor of delivering our first “placating Hitler” reference, as opposed to others, who just called the Sony execs “pussies.”
Let’s get our wars, body parts and terrorists straight here.
Sony is a (Japanese) corporation, not a country. This was not an act of war. It started as a hack of a film company’s internal, private information systems that spiraled into insanity because that network was so mismanaged. And even though Sony had to shut down its PlayStation network after an attack in 2011, and suffered another breach to its German Web site in January of 2014, it apparently never upgraded its primitive IT system. From all accounts, Sony’s system was like the Lotus Notes of anti-spyware.
The fact that in 2014, co-chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin could exchange mean girl emails as if they were experimenting with the Telenet added to the drama. Rudin’s words about Angelina Jolie — that she’s a “minimally talented spoiled brat” — would seem to describe Sony management overall and be weirdly prophetic.
And Pascal’s laughable response to the leaks of the “would Obama like 'Django' or 'The Butler'” conversation with Rudin offered a window into her seriously impaired judgment at every turn. To seek absolution, she’s talking to the Rev. Al Sharpton — as if he speaks for all black people.
It’s hard to know where to begin with the levels of hypocrisy involved here, but filmmaker John Singleton has come to Pascal’s aid to defend her and Rudin and say they both have “consistently hired people of color.” (Her “come to Jesus” talk with the all-powerful Sharpton will take place in New York, and not a moment too soon: Sony’s remake of “Annie” starring Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhane Wallis opens shortly after that.)
But back to the beyond-blockbuster-level disaster of “The Interview.” The ridiculously inflammatory warfare language that outraged stars and pundits have adopted to talk about Sony’s capitulation actually mimics the wording that came from Kim Jong Un’s government last summer. That’s when the North Koreans first called “The Interview” "the most blatant act of terrorism and an act of war that we will never tolerate.”
Let’s go back to the initial decision to green-light this nightmare. Rogen and his partner, Evan Goldberg, and Dan Sterling — who is credited with the screenplay, and who worked briefly on “South Park” — are funny in a base, stoner way. But they don’t have the depth or gravitas to carry off serious political satire.
From the very beginning of the deal, if anyone at Sony management had been a grown-up, the screenplay could easily have been changed to talk about a fictional country and fictional leader.
See, I think the movie is too stupid to even qualify for the protections of the First Amendment, but that’s the law.
I know that Pascal didn’t want to lose Rogen because his movies make money. But from last summer on, when the threats from North Korea first started coming in, the studio began to wrangle with Rogen over the death of KJU scene, which involved his head getting hit by a missile and exploding into a fiery mess.
Rogen gave in to the notes from the Sony overlords and “removed the secondary chunks.” Again, the film is too flimsy to justify such a violent act, whether you see it graphically spelled out or not.
And it’s not even original: the execution of a North Korean head of state has been done, and even better, by Matt Stone and Trey Parker for "Team America, World Police." Sure, the depiction was ugly and offensive, but still offset by having the character be a marionette. And Dear Leader did get to say the wonderful line: “When you see Arec Barrwin, you will see the true ugriness of human nature.”
Also, it’s really stupid to suggest that the CIA regularly recruits journalists to kill foreign leaders that they are interviewing. Our war correspondents are already having an impossibly tough time.
Sources have said that Sony almost pleaded with the theater owners to pull the movie, worried that it would jeopardize the overall holiday traffic to malls and theaters. Releasing the film on VOD would seem to be a great answer, but apparently, Sony would prefer to get insurance payback and not release it at all.
And there you have it: “The Interview” was no cutting-edge, rule-breaking, revolutionary act. It was the slow accumulation of salami-in-the-anus jokes that, in the end, signify nothing.
It's more like The Banality of Evil, dumbed-down, Sony style.