Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Interview Earns Its Stripes, Barely

So I did my patriotic duty and watched the movie that North Korea did not want the world to see, The Interview.  They really, really didn't want anyone to see it, since it makes a laughable joke out of Kim Jong-Un, and his regime.

It was a pretty funny movie, a bit long, but as I watched it, it very much reminded me of the old Bill Murray movie, Stripes. Both were funny comedies, with similar plot elements. For my money, Stripes was far better, but the North Korea backed Sony hacking, and the threats against this new movie, made it a must see for me.

Up Yours, Kim!

Yes, it was a bit over the top, and maybe somewhat tasteless at times. But even after feckless and frightened movie studios and exhibitors initially backed away from distributing it and allowing it to be shown, Sony finally found its spine and released the movie anyway, albeit in a very truncated way, opting for digital avenues, and limited theatrical distribution.

If Kim Jong-un is as enamored of porn, junk food, American entertainment and other western excess as he is reputed to be, and there is little reason to doubt it, it should be clear to him that Hollywood thrives on crassness and takes its shots at any and everyone. There's nothing new there. Whether it's Bill Murray taking shots at Army culture in Stripes, or Seth Rogan making a fool out of the leader of North Korea, that's just how comedy rolls in the good ol' U.S. of A. Nothing makes for more laughs than the mocking of authoritarian power.

The troubling aspect of all this, of course, is how quickly all concerned were more than happy to back down in the face of threats and bullying pronouncements. That's life in 2014, where a country that hasn't had to stand up for anything in a meaningful way in several generations, and isn't used to being able to live the principles it claims so much to believe in, that sends unemployed volunteers to fight in overseas conflicts while the "homefront" is as removed from any sacrifice at all with regard to those conflicts.

If the population never has to stand up for its rights, those rights become less dear. From the Orwellian Patriot Act, passed in the months following the 9/11 attacks, to NSA domestic spying, to torture overseas, Americans are hellbent on giving up their own constitutional rights in a hopeless quest for "security". Fear rules the day, from the indignities of air travel, to rampant xenophobia, and now to attempted censorship of entertainment.

The unfortunate citizens of North Korea never had a chance to live free. The citizens of the United States don't seem to realize how valuable it is to maintain their own freedom. Maybe someone will make a funny comedy about it someday. 

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