So let me get this straight: North Korea insists it had nothing to do with the cyber attacks against Sony, nor with subsequent threats against theatres daring to show The Interview—that piece of purposefully political piffle–and then, in a bid to prove its innocence, demands to the US that it be involved in the investigation using the same threatening rhetoric as the hackers?
And let me try to further straighten this out: Sony, in an interview with CNN, claims that it did not kowtow to terrorism, did not censor the right of artists to free speech, did not submit to the fanatical and fantastical threats made on behalf of a theocratic dictatorship, by barring the release of a satirical movie indefinitely out of fear that its showing might incite further reprisals?
And one more knot to untie: Did theatre owners, unphased by actual instances of violence in the past (most troublingly after a crazed gunman attacked a movie theatre in Aurora during The Dark Knight Rises, allegedly inspired by the film which preceded it), deem that in this particular instance, with only the implied threat of violence, that the imagined safety of its patrons trumps their right to participate in the democratic free expression of ideas? Are we to believe this surrender is in no way motivated by the sophistication of the cyber attacks and the antiquated cyber security of the theatres to protect their own data? Has the pandering rhetoric of these theatres successfully convinced patrons that this self-interested submission was instead an altruistic gesture, even when North Korea was keen to assure people it had no interest in attacking theatre-going civilians? (Nevermind North Korea lacks the remotest capability of launching even a bottle rocket against the US.)
Paramount deserves some credit for fostering no illusions about the absurdity of its actions when it refused to allow Team America: World Police to be shown in place of The Interview, which would have been a fitting substitution since it too was entirely devoted to killing a North Korean supreme leader (Kim Jong-il in the former film, the departed dear leader of a people now ruled by his son, Kim Jong-un, the target in the latter film). At least now Paramount has provided a better understanding as to why it has yet to release Team America on blu-ray, despite announcing it back during the format wars in 2007. And at most we should be grateful that no corporation is trying to profit directly from terrorism. But given the particulars of these threats, targeted as they were against the swine of Western Capitalism (a detail which The Interview pokes fun at with its poster), I don’t think the herd would be opposed to buying a ticket to something right about now.
Though we’re not quite on that slippery slope towards the total destruction of Western culture, the development is troubling enough without needing to sound quite so hyperbolic. The whole situation is saved from absolute insanity by the fact that unlike another more famous instance of artistic censorship, nobody has yet been killed over this film.
Given the absurdity of the situation, and the heights to which it has been propelled in media, I’d say Franco and Rogen have the plot of their next comedy, but given the chance that it may offend someone, somewhere, somehow, I doubt we’ll ever hear it whispered.