Thursday, December 18, 2014
SONY PICTURES, "THE INTERVIEW" AND MOVIES AS OUR AMERICAN WEAPON
Ladies and gentlemen, I interrupt my usually-scheduled blogging (again - the last time was on September 11, 2011) in order to vent out and express some particular thoughts, feelings and emotions that on this day are getting the better of me. I'm overcome with an insatiable need to discuss recent events of the last twenty-four hours and I hope you'll grant me your patience and your feedback...
So, anybody who's been following even a little bit of the news lately is no doubt familiar with the recent computer hackings that have infested Sony Pictures all due to their planned Christmas distribution of the movie, THE INTERVIEW, an American political action comedy film directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The film stars Rogen and James Franco as journalists instructed by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (played by actor Randall Park) after successfully booking an interview with him. The film has been subject to endless media attention due to its intentionally negative portrayal of Kim Jong-un. Threats of "merciless" action against the United States have been made should Columbia Pictures go ahead with the film's release. Last November, the computer systems of parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment were hacked by a group calling themselves "The Guardians of Peace" with suspected (and recently confirmed) ties to North Korea. After leaking emails of several other upcoming Sony films (including the next James Bond film), the group demanded that Sony pull the film, which it referred to as "the movie of terrorism". Just two days ago, the group threatened terrorist attacks against American cinemas that played THE INTERVIEW, and finally, yesterday Sony caved in and canceled the scheduled Christmas Day theatrical release of the film and stated that it has no plans to release the film in any form.
Wow! All I can initially say at first is, "Wow!" The second thing I can say (or ask) is, "What the fuck just happened?" Did WE, the free thinking, free speaking, free creative, free movie making society of the great country known as the United States of America actually allow ourselves to be dictated to by a foreign country as to what sort of movie we could and could not make and what sort of movie we can and cannot watch?? Again, by a foreign country, no less??? Granted, I have no reason to want to go and see, let alone defend a stupid, useless and mindless comedy like THE INTERVIEW, because you've been reading my blog long enough to know that I almost never support that sort of Hollywood crap. But people, something unprecedented and, indeed, tragic has taken place in our own country on December 17, 2014 and I just feel that I can't shut up about it!
Okay, so we all know it's our own government's policy to never, under any circumstances, negotiate with terrorists. However, it's pretty safe to say that our government is not going to give one rat's ass about what Hollywood chooses to do with itself. Films get shelved and releases get cancelled for all sorts of reasons, but until now, they've usually had to do with studio finances and what not. Still, as much as we enjoy picking on and targeting the moronic culture of the Hollywood studio producers, we can't ignore the the fact that these men and women are Americans also. What does it say to not only the film industry, but to the American movie going public when a film is cancelled because someone out there doesn't like it? And lets remember that we're not even talking about the average "Joe" who has a beef with a film. We're talking about a fascist dictator in a country overseas whom the United States would consider an enemy. Kim Jong-Un and North Korea have cried "foul" and "Hooray for Hollywood" has retreated in fear. Again, THE INTERVIEW as a film itself means shit to me. It's our American weakness that's really got me steamed! This is not who we are and this is not what we do!
Now let's dig back into a little bit of cinema history and ask ourselves this important question - had Charlie Chaplin and United Artists weakened and caved into political pressures and fears during a time of the late 1930s and early 1940s when Adolf Hitler was in full power and considered an enemy of the free world, would we have ever gotten the pleasure of Chaplin's film THE GREAT DICTATOR? This was the most perfect political comedy of its time that went right for Hitler's throat and summoned up wonderful laughs at his expense. Technically, we were not even at war yet until Pearl Harbor in December 1941, but we knew the power and weaponry of laughter as an attack against our enemies and against evil itself. Hell, even Warner Brothers got Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck into the act as they provided their own lunatic combat against the infamous dictator...
You go, Daffy! You see what I mean? It was fun and even politically correct to make fun of and laugh at Adolf Hitler! And when we weren't making fun of our enemies, it was Hollywood's responsibility and privilege to give us endless films in which our great American actors (usually John Wayne) went head-to-head with Germany and Japan! Yes, even when we were at war with Japan, animator Max Fleischer got involved and had Superman himself do battle with the Japanese soldier...
(I think you get the idea!)
This may have been a different age and a different era of war, but I've always believed that the spirit behind such cinematic rousing is one that should continue to live on even during these crazy modern times. We as free thinkers of creativity have every right to make movies that ultimately poke fun at the enemies and evils of the world. That is the power that movies have as a weapon for the everyday person! Where guns and violence may not be the answer at every political moment, then certainly laughter is! And now, we've tragically allowed the first instance where American laughter and free-thinking fun has been contained and repressed by a group of foreign terrorists (what have we done???) I don't rightfully know what the correct and logical answer is to all of this because I can't help but see both possible sides to Sony's final decision. Like it or not, we live in a post 9-11 world where every single threat of terrorism has to be taken seriously in order to protect human life. I get that, I really do, and I suppose the cancellation of one little movie is a very small price to pay for our safety and security. But is this just the beginning? How many more American movies will be destroyed out of fear of retaliation from those who feel they have a justifiable reason to be pissed off about it? As Americans, we love movies! They're our weapons against life's cruelties and tragedies. If we lose that weapon...what happens to us then?
Let me finally conclude all of this with what I personally think should happen next with Sony and THE INTERVIEW. Were I able to get on the phone with the CEO of Sony Pictures Michael Lynton, I would say this to him..."Mike, I can't say I fully support what you and the rest of the team have done here, but I'm hoping the ultimate reason is to keep movie patrons safe from physical harm. Okay, this all really sucks and it's a major financial loss to Sony that you're all going to have to deal with. But, Mike, you can all still come out of this winners! Do you remember what the band U2 did just a short time ago when releasing their new album? You remember how they gave it away as a free gift to all Apple iTunes subscribers? You need to do the same thing! Yes, Mike, you heard me right! I'm proposing that you offer THE INTERVIEW as a free download to all subscribers who are interested in seeing the film! Yes, you'll never see a dime on the film and yes, it's shit that you and Sony are going to have to eat! But, oh, the statement that you'll make! You will, in one brave act, declare to the world that American free thinkers, free speakers and free watchers of all movies will not be threatened by terrorists and will not be repressed from the art of cinema! We will not cave and we will not go quietetly into the night of the darkened movie theater! We will see THE INTERVIEW!"
Well, I won't personally...but I hope I've made my point here and I hope you'll all support me.
By the way, it suddenly occurs to me that if Kim Jong-Un and North Korea really wanted to start World War III over a movie, then quite frankly, they should have retaliated against George Lucas for what he did to the original STAR WARS trilogy instead of THE INTERVIEW! That would almost make sense, yes? LOL!!!
Good night and live free!