Category Archives: News and Views

News & Views: Tina Fey and The Satire Backlash

The tragic death of anti-racist protestor Heather Heyer at the hands of a white nationalist in Charlottesville has naturally sparked anger, fear, and despair towards the reemergence of old school apple pie pernicious American racism.

Tina Fey, a graduate of UVA, the school that was the epicenter of the carnage, did a widely viewed segment where she denounced the KKK and other white nationalist groups via a sheet cake which she savagely devoured over the course of six-minutes.

It was a big hit with many viewers. But it royally pissed off others. Several commentators found her stance to reek of a 21st century Marie Antoinette-esque white privilege.

Quite frankly, I find the backlash is overwrought, like much of the commentary about satire these days. There has been a trove of bizarre think pieces, such as an article in The Atlantic that argue that satire is responsible for Donald Trump and anti-intellectualism. This is a patently ridiculous assertion because satire doesn’t cause events, it responds to things already taking place. This means that the argument that Tina Fey’s parody of Sarah Palin made her unelectable is just as false as the declaration that Fey’s current segment is an anti-activist screed.

Another thing I admired about the segment is that it tackled satire from a different angle. Usually satire is a complete and total mockery of a public figure, often somebody in a position of power (although with reality TV and 24-hr entertainment cable news “power” is a bit more relative). In Fey’s segment, Trump’s dickishness in refusing to disavow white supremacists is a large butt of the joke, but she also deftly interweaves the helplessness that the average disgruntled feels in these turbulent times. She brilliantly used the cake as both a prop for fantastic physical humor but also as a symbolism of catharsis of sorts.

Many of her critics fault her segment for being too shallow and light. These articles instead praise responses by Late Night hosts Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon, whose monologues take on a somber tone and denounce #45 as a totally immoral, hate mongering man unfit to be President. Their points are valid, but they also state the obvious. It doesn’t do anybody any favors to recast comedians as morality gatekeepers when comedy by nature is about subverting rules and expectations. I think Fey invoked the wrath she did because she was willing to go for the jugular when a situation was still raw. I have been frustrated with many comedians who are almost waiting for Godot when it comes to delivering their take on tragic current events. We look to them for a thoughtful, humorous slant.

There is a wrongheaded, but increasingly popular idea that anything that counters your views is not only wrong, but must be stopped in its tracks. On a British panel show Jack Dee’s Help Desk, which pokes fun at the televised Q&A town halls between public figures and normal people (yes the UK and Australia have those shows for real), there was a special episode aired after the US Presidential Election. Naturally, the audience and the panel of comedians were a little more rattled than usual and many of the questions and answers had a lot of anxiety wrapped up in tongue and cheek humor.

One young woman casually asked (at about 17:45) “how can I ensure that people only tell me things I agree with?” Her rationale was if politicians could cherry pick truths, she should be able too. Sara Pascoe quickly pointed out that cleansing the world was a “slippery slope.” Romesh Ranganathan remarked that Brexit was a shock to many because they surrounded themselves with people who shared their views. He suggested that she “cut off people who agree with her” and only follow people who disagree with her so that “when you leave the house, you think, oh everybody’s not an asshole.” Taken aback by the passionate responses, she remarked “it’s turning a bit more serious than I intended.”

Absolutely, the facts matter. That is why we need more satire, not less, to cleverly and humorously shine a spotlight on and compete with the insanity and evil in the world. If we don’t, Trump and the other loonies will have a total monopoly on the absurd.

News & Views: Oscars So Vanilla…AGAIN

Courtesy of www.nydailynews.com

Courtesy of www.nydailynews.com

As some of you may have noticed in 2015, I haven’t written many reviews about new movies (only one to be exact, for the incredibly mediocre Mr. Holmes.) My contributors Heather Nichols and Candace Wiggins have been more diligent about getting their thoughts about current cinema in written form. I only ventured out to the movie theater about seven times; other than the new Star Wars, which I liked but didn’t love, I was disappointed with the films I saw. (Krampus, a stale hipster revamp of the 80s family movies with a punitively mean-spirited streak, was the worst of the sorry lot.)

I am probably not the most qualified to comment on the Oscars as I haven’t seen any of the films that scored any of the major nominations because they struck me as stale, more of the unoriginal middle-of-the-road fare with which we’ve been overloaded.

Courtesy of www.usatoday.com

Courtesy of www.usatoday.com

Some pundits were optimistic that there wouldn’t be a repeat of the #OscarsSoWhite fiasco that put a damper on last year’s Oscars. However, many realized that this would occur again. In a particularly funny and sad segment on The Nightly Show, they previewed the inevitable Black snubs, noting that Will Smith is out because “only white actors can win an Oscar for a movie nobody saw” and that voters will overlook Michael B. Jordan because punching people isn’t seen as acting when done by a black man.

The anger is understandable. When the critically acclaimed and financially profitable Straight Outta Compton and Creed only yield nominations for four white screenwriters and a white actor respectively and that in both of Cheryl Boone Isaac’s terms as Academy President the nominees were lily-white, it feels like an outright conspiracy.

As Viola Davis noted, the Oscars are symptomatic, but not the real problem lies with the lack of distribution of films with black actors, writers, directors, and/or producers. While I think this assessment is closer to the truth, I believe there are other factors contributing to the problem.

Courtesy of www.cinemablend.com

Courtesy of www.cinemablend.com

It is a bit of a misnomer to put the blame squarely on Hollywood as a whole. Many commentators talk about the top 100 grossing films in a year and the Oscars in the same breath. They are slightly separate issues because the blockbusters are rarely awards magnets (except for maybe the technical categories). Mainstream Hollywood movies certainly have a long way to go, but have been more cognizant to include people in color in prominent acting roles (their track record on writers, directors, and producers still leaves something to be desired.) John Boyega, excellent as Fin the Stormtrooper apostate turned hero in the multi-billion dollar smash Star Wars reboot, proved that people of color do not disrupt the movie world. As superhero fatigued as I am, the upside does seem that they sometimes lead for more diverse casting.

The ones who have really dropped the ball are the Mid-sized Indie productions and the big film festivals such as Sundance, TIFF, and the New York Film Festival. This is the community who produce Oscar bait; good luck finding a person of color in any of the whitey tighty films. An art-house cinema owner in a liberal artsy city told me that movies with black protagonists are a really hard sell; he would either get co-sponsorship from an outside organization or knowingly take a hit on the few occasions he could afford to.

The person widely credited for turning the Oscars into a race that rivals the presidential elections in terms of cost and time is Harvey Weinstein who usurped major Oscar wins for ho hum masterpieces like Shakespeare in Love, The King’s Speech, and The English Patient. In approximately 300 producing credits, about 50 feature a person of color in a prominent acting role (out of this list, non-whites as protagonists is significantly smaller, maybe 15).

Courtesy of www.standbyformindcontrol.com

Courtesy of www.standbyformindcontrol.com

If that seems like a troubling statistic, the other top producers of awards friendly fare such as Scott Rudin, Steven Spielberg, and Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner have a more significantly dismal track record. It is interesting to note that films produced by Spielberg (Memoirs of a Geisha) and Rudin (Aloha) have been associated with major PR snafus. Geisha alienated huge swaths of Asian audiences when the Japanese characters were played by more Western aesthetically pleasing Chinese and Korean actors.

Casting freckly ginger Emma Stone as a Hawaiian was only one of the myriad of miscalculations of Aloha, a film that represents Hollywood at its worst. Like so many studio films, Aloha was helmed by Cameron Crowe, an out-of-touch middle-aged man coasting off the acclaim of his earlier works (namely Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Almost Famous). According to the Sony leak, Amy Pascal and other execs knew the movie was doomed for failure (it flopped miserably), yet they acted as if everything was fine until post-production where they barraged him with criticism.

The producing duo Bevan and Fellner who are the British equivalent of Harvey Weinstein, have been major U.S. industry players since Four Weddings and a Funeral was a surprise smash in the States. While Britain has become more progressive since their colonial days and has a historical reputation for laxer censorship and tackling franker and grittier material, like so much of Europe, the entertainment industry like its society is still racially homogenized. Colorful character actress Miriam Margolyes caught Will.i.am and Graham Norton’s audience with a surprisingly remark, “I’m fascinated by you [because] unfortunately I don’t know many black people.”

Courtesy of www.theguardian.com

Courtesy of www.theguardian.com

Unfortunately, in more recent years some white European stars have made statements about race relations in less comical and self-aware ways than Margolyes ranging from absurd- Julie Delpy wishing she was a black man because they have more privileges than white lady feminists- to hostile- Charlotte Rampling claiming that boycotting the Oscars was racist to whites (though she kept mum when the interviewer followed up by repeating grievances by black people in the industry).

My big beef with the Oscars these days is that they are not only homogenously white, but the white movies and performances they recognize are generally nauseatingly mediocre. I depart from most Oscar critics as I wasn’t on the Selma bandwagon and I didn’t feel that Ava Duvernay or David Oyelewo were snubbed. (I believe that its Best Pic nomination was shameless ass-covering). That said I liked Selma’s white arch-nemesis American Sniper marginally better, though I’m not sure it deserved a BP nom either.

Courtesy of rippleeffects.wordpress.com

Courtesy of rippleeffects.wordpress.com

I loved Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, both of which were one-of-a-kind masterworks, though they are part of the uber white indie structure.

One of my favorite films in recent years (that of course had no Oscar traction) was an unpretentious BET-produced showbiz drama, Beyond the Lights, beautifully directed by underrated writer-filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood and acted by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (who cannily captured the soulnessness of pop stardom) and Nate Parker. It made $14.6 million, double its budget, yet it is considered to be a huge flop. For some reason, BET pushed it into a wide release without any promotion, so I think the box office return was not too bad all things considered.

Courtesy of www.forbes.com

Courtesy of www.forbes.com

I suspect that movies like Tangerine and Beasts of No Nation were overlooked by the Oscars because of their untraditional shooting methods/distribution as much as for their subject matters and casting. The most (maybe only) interesting awards moment was when Idris Elba scored two surprising SAG victories for his work in Beasts and Luther, almost as if to give the Oscars the finger. Since Alejandro Inatru, the mind behind the mind-numbingly awful Birdman, has it in the bag again with The Revenant, I think I’ll be skipping the Oscars this year.

I will continue to follow this story with a vested interest, and I hope that other commentators will do the same, because although the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag will be temporarily retired, the lack of diversity remains as a lingering problem.

Misc: The Greatest Presidential Show On Earth

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Many people think that politics should be kept out of entertainment. When the presidential candidates are more outrageous and intellectually dishonest than reality stars, they are totally in the entertainment domain. Since the traditional entertainment world is a snoozerama right now, I will turn my attention towards amateur punditry.

The obvious person to start with is Donald Trump, for whom 2015 is his Helen Mirren year, although his art of the douche is less honorable than her art of The Queen. As celebrities and public figures become increasingly scripted and appease-y to the bland (but increasingly absolutist) mainstream, Trump’s eagerness to go for the extreme jugular is a spectacle welcomed by many as the Gospel Truth. Even people who are repelled by his egomaniacal xenophobic conspiracy-theory rhetoric and hotheaded frat boy delivery can’t take their eyes off him.

Unlike 2008 when Trump had no tolerance for the derision hurled at him after his overly prolonged birther campaign aimed at Obama, he has developed a much thicker skin, taking his public troll number one reputation in great stride. He combats his adversaries with meaningless, but emphatic hyperbole of a New World movie villain emerging like an orangutan-haired hydra, stooping to a shocking new low every day.

Unlike earnest worry wart liberals, I do not think Trump’s monopoly of the airwaves or winning the Republican nomination would bring about Doomsday and not only because Doomsday is more plausible than his nomination. (I find the prospect of the President coming down to two dynasties- the Clintons and the Bushs- more disconcerting.)

Although Trump’s campaign has been resoundingly negative, he is really the only one (other than Bernie) who has inspired euphoria in people who were formerly apathetic or jaded towards politics, however misplaced and twisted it manifests itself. In spite of himself, Trump is the 2016 Obama for society’s outliers.

As somebody with a weakness for colorful eccentrics, I thank The Donald from the bottom of my heart for inspiring weirdos for coming out of the woodwork. I love co-founder of “Women for Trump,” Paula Johnson, an unassuming-looking Yankee woman with the voice and neurosis of Gladys Kravitz.

My absolute faves are the North Carolina Born-Again Republicans “Diamond” and “Silk” who “Stump for Trump” with Televangelistic zeal on their YouTube vlog The Viewers View. These ladies have the best comic timing and repartee since Craig Ferguson and Geoff. Like DT, they’re brash, unfiltered, hilarious, and shameless self-promoters. I haven’t seen this many women flock around one man since Charles Manson.

The only person close to Trump’s level of loony, off-the-wall rhetoric is Ben Carson, who proves that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be a brain surgeon. Unlike a manic Trump, Carson registers on camera like he had an unfortunate dose of anesthesia that has resulted in an irrevocable side effect of narcolepsy (perhaps this is his relatability to the millions of overmedicated Americans). He does have his peculiar charms, namely comparing everything he doesn’t like to Nazism or slavery in the laconic, but sincere tone of a John Wayne character. Possibly the only person who lied about being Dexter when he was more like Dexter’s Laboratory, Carson, who has transformed into Howard Beale without probable cause, acts as if he might stab a “liberal bias” journalist.

Carly Fiorina’s American success story of an everywoman who rises from secretary to CEO is your typical pat biopic that leaves out the interesting details (namely her patrician diplomat family, her Stanford alumnus, and that she was a Stepford wife in Italy for a year).

Courtesy of news.yahoo.com

Courtesy of news.yahoo.com

Her Eliza Doolittle-like transformation on the campaign circuit is an astonishing feat. When she ran for governor in 2010, she looked like a frumpy, aloof NYU economics professor who couldn’t defend her appalling fire-happy HP record and subsequently lost to Barbara Boxer big time. In just a few years, she gussied up with a corporate Barbie MILF makeover, and spoke fluent Conservative Politicalese with the speed of a savant. With O. Henry irony, her presidential polish has resulted in apathy from many Republicans banking on a “maverick.”

Jeb Bush isn’t so much low energy as much as he’s a tightly controlled shill. In spite of his best efforts to be the vanilla inoffensive candidate for the Establishment, every time he responds to a tough question, stuff happens. He’s exactly like his bro, except he doesn’t do the trust fund baby dork dance as well and won’t tell a joke all the way through. If we’re destined to have an unbridled Republican asshole, gimme Trump.

Ted Cruz isn’t only a dead ringer for character actor Pat Buttram with his squinty doughy face and hammy Southern twang, he is the Mr. Haney of this race, which has been Hootervillized with an elitist makeover. Like Haney, Cruz comes off like a dumb country hick, but under his shtick he is a devious political operator and a real threat for the nomination. Just as scary as his ideology is his “dummy doll” laugh.

When the roster of candidates are like rejects from The Gong Show it makes sense that the GOP would stand by the next, next, next, next best thing, Marco Rubio. Because he doesn’t advocate for the slaughter of all the relatives of terrorists or claim that the Pyramids were grain storage sites for Joseph, many assume he’s the voice of reason. Perhaps the most mealy-mouthed of them all, Rubio has hinted at declaring war with China and has a Tetris style immigration plan that keeps undocumented people in limbo for years. No matter how much his camp tries to push the boy wonder image, most people are hip to the fact that he’s old goods in a new package.

For the past 20-odd years, Hillary Clinton has been a magnet for a collection of hysterical, often sinister conspiracy theories. She brings a lot of this on herself with her guarded WASPy secretiveness and her political incestuousness. Like a stubborn old dog, Mrs. Clinton pathologically does everything behind bolted doors. Her most profound moment was when she told Black Lives Matter activists that you have to change laws before you change hearts, but alas it was, you guessed it, behind closed doors.

She is more detestable than the average bear politician because of her extreme disingenuousness. She is as adept at personability as Hyacinth Bucket (“Bou-kay”) is at poshness, though unfortunately Hillary lacks Patricia Routledge’s genius comic timing. She does herself no favors with her belligerent attitude that it’s her manifest destiny to be the first woman president. The excruciating irony is how the DNC and older affluent Dems are berating the progressives’ “irresponsible” support of Bernie claiming that Hillary is the only realistic candidate. They seem to forget that she lost big time back in 2008 and everybody had to plead with the kicking and screaming woman with a “Mr. Gorbochav, tear down the wall” inevitability. Oh yeah, the first two words that spring to most people’s minds are “liar” and “unlikable.”

Common wisdom attributes Bernie Sanders’ surge in the polls to championing substantial structural changes from the 1% to help the 99%. But he also benefits from the Betty White effect, which makes elderly white people more lovable to the millennials on social media (even Martin Shkreli felt the Bern). With his mad scientist hairdo and gruff New York accent plus his record as a Senator consistently on the right side of history, Bernie has normal people and capable politician street cred.

Martin O’Malley is the political equivalent of actor Jay Harrington. Both men are handsome, intelligent, and personable. But both have been overshadowed by shiftier, less rational, more idiosyncratic co-stars, and their significant contributions to their “shows” are underrated. In my world, O’Malley would have a real shot for the nomination and Better Off Ted would still be on the air.

There are still a stupid amount of people running who haven’t got a shot in hell, because they didn’t take the wise strippers’ advice from Gypsy. Let this be a lesson to all prospective candidates, you gotta get a gimmick.

Sequels, Remakes & #OscarsSoWhite: What’s The Deal Hollywood?

By Heather Nichols, Tawfik Zone Contributor

Courtesy of artwalknews.com

Courtesy of artwalknews.com

So this past week we got a pretty big announcement from the land of the stars, and no I’m not talking about the Oscars (yet). It seems that Avatars’ 2, 3, and 4 are all being delayed. Yes these are the follow ups to the movie that raised ticked prices roughly $3.

I’ll give him props for being highly innovative technologically speaking but let’s face it, the movie began production around the time of all the movies it’s comparable to (e.g. Pocahontas, The Last of the Mohicans, An Inconvenient Truth, Fern Gully…) but took much longer to produce so the story ends up not having the same wow factor of the visuals.

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

But this is James Cameron, the guy behind Titanic, The Terminator, and Aliens among some of the other popular films of our time. I will admit, the man has style, but it seems like wasted talent for him to be rehashing sequels for not only Avatar but also The Terminator (according to IMDB). Instead I’d like to offer up a couple alternative ideas that would utilize Cameron’s creative juices…

Fans of the video game Halo have been waiting for a big screen adaptation of their favorite Spartan’s war against the Covenant for years now. Based on both Aliens and Avatar and his work on The Terminator series I think Cameron could be the director they’re looking for as under his supervision the design for Master Chief and the alien race, the Covenant would be perfect.

Courtesy of www.blackgate.com

Courtesy of www.blackgate.com

Ideally I’d love to see it as a collaboration with fellow director Guillermo del Toro as I feel the blending of their styles could really make the look of the Halo world come to live. Del Toro isn’t as great at writing English dialogue so Cameron would be able to strengthen the script while del Toro keeps the project in spirit with what the fans would really want.

Another video game adaptation I think Cameron would do well on (and be able to handle solo) is a little title reining from the days of Sega Genesis, Comix Zone. This 1995 game is possibly one of the hardest video games ever made where the player has one life and no save points, so you literally only live once.

Courtesy of www.ign.com

Courtesy of www.ign.com

The story follows Sketch Turner (the 90s really had a thing for puns) who is a rock musician and comic book artist in the midst of creating his latest panels of a dystopian New York City when a bolt of lightning zaps him into the world of his comic and frees its villain, Mortus. From that point onward Sketch has to battle his way through the levels to save the comic world from being destroyed by a nuke.

It’s fairly simple and straightforward but it’d be a good popcorn movie and I’m sure Cameron could work in a deeper subtext with the subtlety of ‘unobtanium,’ as he tends to do.

The game itself is relatively short making it very doable within the three hour time span Cameron usually works in. Based on the worlds crafted and the types of male characters Cameron creates, I really think this could have real potential if Hollywood would think a little broader instead of just rehashing sequels.

Courtesy of nerdnalist.blogspot.com

Courtesy of nerdnalist.blogspot.com

Now I’m not in favor of turning all video games into movies. Part of what I love about the Assassin’s Creed series is it really only works as a game because it hops between at least two different storylines. But if you were to separate these two games, I think they’d work fine as a couple of summer blockbusters.

And I guess it’s time to talk about that other big news from last week.

I don’t know if I’m in favor of hopping on the #OscarsSoWhite bandwagon. I haven’t seen all the candidates so I can’t tell you if one actor is better than another based on the performance they were nominated for. I do know the board in charge does itself need more diversity as films are enjoyed by all demographics so it only makes sense that there’d be more diversity in the review board. I know it’s not the People’s Choice Awards but I do think the voting system for the Oscars is in need of a make-over/update.

Courtesy of insidemovies.ew.com

Courtesy of insidemovies.ew.com

Shame on them for snubbing Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel, he was excellent. And The Lego Movie was beyond cheated. It did for animation this year, what Boyhood did for film. It should be seen as a game changer, not just some kid’s movie category that can be written off. And when are we going to get voice actor and voiceover categories?  Sometimes a narrator can make or break a documentary or an actor can make a character come alive just using his/her voice so I think they deserve recognition. Just throwing it out there…

Going back to the race issue, it’s not just the academy that’s the problem it’s an overall societal issue. I mentioned this a couple weeks ago but I’ll say it again since this seems to be the hot button issue. When it was rumored Idris Elba was being considered to play Bond, the internet went bananas. Some people, me included, were all in favor of seeing the British actor sip back a martini and perform some high action sequences. On the other hand some people were outraged at the idea of a person of color playing the iconic character.

Courtesy of kedamono-mizudori.deviantart.com

Courtesy of kedamono-mizudori.deviantart.com

On the flipside it’s now rumored that Scarlet Johansson will be playing Major Mokoto Kusanagi and there is a petition already going to fire her from the project.  This is along those same racial issues as with Elba except you have an iconic character from and iconic Japanese manga/anime series that is getting the Hollywood treatment.

I can see the anger but I also feel like you have to look at the other factors. If this is a Hollywood adaptation (presumably set in America) and the entire cast is played by American (and potentially British) actors, then doesn’t it make sense to cast an American woman who is known for playing strong female characters? I’ve stated on social media I’d even love to see Halle Barry in the role as the major, but then again, she’s not Asian.

Courtesy of trailers.apple.com

Courtesy of trailers.apple.com

Considering the M Night Shyamalan incident with The Last Airbender, I can understand the fear but as stated we have to take everything into account. That production was a mess start to finish whereas Johansson’s film seems to have people on board who care about the actual material.

I’d actually be more upset if the team pulled what they did with Memoirs of a Geisha on this project. For those of you who don’t know, Chinese actors and actresses were casted in the roles of the Japanese characters. This fell into a “they’re some kind of Asian so no one will notice,” issue and given the cultural history between the two counties it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

Courtesy of www.tgdaily.com

Courtesy of www.tgdaily.com

But perhaps the issue goes further than race. I can’t even call it a simple issue because the idea of race is as complex as the night sky… maybe the other problem here is the need to seek out untapped talent.

While I think Johansson could be a good fit for the major, maybe putting the effort in to find an unknown bi-lingual actress of Japanese descent would have been a nice consideration. This ties into my before comments about Cameron; Hollywood is in a cycle of rehashing not only sequels and remakes, but also pulling from the same pool of actors and actresses. If they’re going to adapt they should try to seek out material and talent that hasn’t been tapped into yet.

News and Views: Sony Hack & The Interview Fiasco

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.

Courtesy of www.facebook.com

Courtesy of www.facebook.com

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.

Adam’s Two-Cents

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.

Courtesy of www.tmz.com

Courtesy of www.tmz.com

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.