Well, it’s been a bad month for Angelina Jolie. First her movie wasn’t recognized by the Golden Globes. Then she was recognized in an email for her role as a “minimally talented spoiled brat.”
That email was one of many leaked after hackers got into Sony’s servers in retaliation for the movie The Interview, in which James Franco and Seth Rogen are sent to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
It was unclear whether the hackers were upset about the plot of the film or just the release of another horrible James Franco-Seth Rogen movie.
Through what I can only imagine to have been a massive amount of detective work*, law enforcement officials have determined that the cyberterrorists were North Korean, although I bet somebody had, for the briefest of moments, the suspicion that the whole thing was a prank to promote the movie.
But then the whole affair turned much darker with a statement from the terrorists: “We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.”
Okay, guys, first rule of terrorism: if you want to be taken seriously, write in decent English. This sounds like the instructions from a Japanese toy.
“Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made,” the statement continued. “The world will be full of fear.”
Well, it was hard to argue with that. Soon the world would know what an awful movie Sony has made. I’ve seen the trailers, and I have no doubt about it. But I didn’t know about the world being full of fear. I’m a coward at heart, but I survived This is the End, so I wasn’t too scared about Seth Rogen’s latest shenanigans.
Then I realized the North Koreans weren’t saying we should be afraid of the movie. They meant we should be afraid of them. That was entirely different.
While I certainly don’t agree with their methods, I can see their point. If the People’s Movie Department of North Korea made a film called “Eog-ab Daetonglyeong-eul Jug-il”** in which two goofball North Koreans (both played by Dennis Rodman) tried to kill President Obama, we’d be pretty mad about it. I’m not sure we’d threaten to bomb North Korean movie theaters, primarily because we’re not even sure they have movie theaters, but we’d at least send an angry letter.
The problem here is that they used a real country and a real, if clearly insane, leader. For these kinds of movies, you have to make up a country, say, West Musialstan and install a fake and comical dictator such as Kim Novak-un. Then you can have all sorts of hilarious hijinks without offending people who may or may not have access to nuclear weapons.
But Sony wasn’t entirely to blame…for the terrorist threat. (They were to blame for letting Seth Rogen and James Franco make another movie.) They actually sought advice from a high ranking government official, RAND corporation senior defense analyst Bruce W. Bennett. (Okay, maybe they didn’t get advice from a government official exactly; they got advice from someone who gives advice to government officials–and eventually has dinner with Kevin Bacon.)
Anyway, this guy Bennett evidently told the CEO of Sony Entertainment:
“I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will).”
We know about this discussion, by the way, because it was one of the emails that was hacked.
In other words, here is a person with ties to the American military establishment saying he thinks this movie could help remove Kim from power, so, by all means, please go ahead with Seth Rogen’s promotional tour.
Whatever I may think of Kim, I believe he has a right to be a tad upset about this, particularly since he’s not played in the movie by Brad Pitt.
Anyway, with all this controversy, The Interview was set to open BIG. Except for one small problem: just about the only theater in America willing to show it was Ed’s Mojave Drive-in and Cactus Snack Bar. So Sony really had no choice but to cancel the premiere.
Initially, I didn’t think much of that decision. You can’t open a movie if theaters won’t show it, and theaters won’t show a movie if people might not only be afraid to come see that movie; they might stay away from all the other movies at your multiplex because, after all, what if the terrorists wanted to bomb The Interview and Annie became collateral damage?
But the media was outraged. How dare Sony bow to terrorist demands? That sets a horrible precedent. We, as Americans, should not allow the threat of an attack stop us from going to see The Interview. We should only let the threat of having to sit through The Interview stop us from going to see The Interview.
Some headlines even declared that America had lost the first cyberwar. If that’s true, it’s a shame that the first cyberwar was fought over something as silly as a Seth Rogen/James Franco movie. Can you imagine if this whole thing escalates into actual armed conflict? That sounds like the plot of…well, a Seth Rogen/James Franco movie.
Let me end by saying that if you really want to see “what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made,” I’m sure it will soon be available On Demand. But keep in mind that if North Koreans can hack Sony, they can certainly hack your local cable company and find out who watched it. And then every bad thing you’ve ever written about Angelina Jolie will be made public.
See you soon.
**Either “Kill the Oppressor President,” or “Let’s All Go for Korean Barbecue,” depending on the accuracy of the Google translator.