This Is Not an Issue of Censorship
By Heather Nichols & Adam Tawfik
Unless you live under a rock (no offense to Patrick Star) you know about this whole fiasco revolving around the cancelation of the film, The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. Many news stations are approaching this report in the wrong way; no getting pissed off at North Korea (Editors’ note: nobody is 100% sure if the country is directly involved, but it’s very likely) is completely validated because they have threatened a terrorist attack.
There are two sides to this and I hate to say it but Sony you screwed up royally. Does it warrant a terrorist attack? Absolutely not, I believe that to be highly inappropriate because they are threatening innocents, which is just flat out wrong.
So here is the issue. At the end of the film credits you have the statement “all resemblances to persons both living and deceased is purely coincidental, this is a work of fiction.” Theaters wanted to play the Parker/Stone film, Team America: World Police in place of The Interview because it makes fun of North Korea. But thankfully people over at Paramount are not being completely stupid and have denied the rights to screen the film.
Here’s the difference between the two movies; the plot of Team America is not solely to kill Kim Jong Il. On the deeper level the film is condoning violence and the notion of “’MERICA, Fuck Yeah!” which on the surface is an excuse for Parker and Stone to call Matt Damon and Alec Baldwin fags. The plot is not about an assassination of a person bearing the name and face of an actual living being, it is a more layered attack on aggressive American patriotism, especially after 9/11. And that is the problem with The Interview.
Now what about Zero Dark Thirty or Inglorious Basterds where the subject matter is about killing people who actually lived? Or any movie where the President of the United States is killed? Well there’s the thing, you’re going past tense and also neither have the graphic content that was rumored to be in The Interview. Then there’s Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator which is another Hitler comedy; again the plot is not about killing him, rather it makes a parody of him. That’s a film that challenged censorship without pushing the bounds of bad taste.
Yes I know that This is the End depicts real Hollywood stars facing the apocalypse but again it’s different. Everyone in it signed up to play a caricature of themselves and if they thought it was objectionable they had an option to negotiate within their contracts.
So the bottom line is Sony never should have green lit the production, it’s in poor taste and now you have a country that is really pissed off and all the media can say is how un-American it is and how we are cowering. It’s not even about that. The media really needs to look at our side in this issue instead of rattling the public up. Someone really needs to give a sincere apology already because now this has become one of the biggest, most messed up publicity campaigns we have seen in the history of film.
I have to disagree with Heather that this is not an issue about censorship. The hackers have used blackmail, and worse, cyber terrorism to force Sony into shunning The Interview from the general public, ergo enforcing censorship by a most insidious means. I find it incredibly troubling that they have won.
Heather is absolutely correct that the news and public opinion is missing the major point. I am a staunch advocate for freedom of speech. At the same time, I abhor sitcoms, stand-up routines, and movies which use a hotbed political issue, but only on a rudimentary surface level, and then justify it on the pretext of edgy satire.
While I have not seen The Interview– ‘cause you know why- I am confident that it is most likely another rotten apple off the Judd Apatow man-child “comedy” tree considering the people involved (puke, Seth Rogen.) In this case, I will defer to Slant magazine’s low opinion of the film, since their reviews are usually right on the money. The hackers are very much in the wrong, but part of the blame must be shared by Sony and the audiences that enable this type of crap being made in the first place. Taking an “America, fuck yeah, blow up the enemy” stance is only going to aggravate the problem.
Let me be perfectly clear, a very dangerous precedence is being set. Shame on Sony for acquiescing to the blackmail (especially since their security system is ridiculously lax).
In my estimation, the biggest tragedy of this pandemonium is that it turns The Interview into a symbol of martyrdom for the greater issue of freedom of speech. Make no mistake, neither Sony nor The Interview is the victim here, but if this type of behavior becomes commonplace, we could be.