It may seem counter-intuitive to say, but a now-withdrawn theatrical release in the United States is causing a serious amount of balagan. Not here, of course, but there. Terrorists masquerading as the “Guardians of Peace,” otherwise known as Kim’s cyber army, have threatened Americans with violence should the planned release of the satirical “The Interview” actually open in theaters this Christmas.
We already know that Kim has no sense of humor. His uncle whom he deposed and murdered would agree with that statement. The millions of North Koreans who have disappeared into the Kim family gulags and prison camps which dot this secretive and nasty regime would also agree with that assessment. Why dictators have no sense of humor is not the subject of this essay. What is the point is that if people worldwide do not stop giving into terrorism it will never end. The cowardice shown by Hollywood moguls should surprise no one. Its complete and total capitulation to an unknown group of cyber bullies illustrates why these people should not be controlling the content of films anywhere, much less making films with potential mass distribution.
Insofar as no one ever heard of this group until the trailers starting showing up online, one has to wonder what irrational fear is gripping those to whom we hold a standard of diligence in seeing that what we see in films is thought-provoking as well as entertaining. Granted, Seth Rogen and James Franco are not exactly known for having a superlative satirical bent to their body of work, still, there are those who would like to see this film without all the drama.
There appears to be a backlash forming now by actors and others in the film industry to the actions by the various theaters who were supposed to show the film. George Clooney and other perennial kvetches have called Sony on the (red) carpet for its actions, but their outrage is muted by the fact that if they want to keep their paychecks coming, they sometimes have to make films that come with a high pricetag. To date, Sony is on the hook for $50 million, not an inconsequential amount for a studio to lose. But here is the thing: there are some films throughout its 100-plus year history that have been withdrawn for a variety of reasons, mostly due to sexual content or ratings disputes. Only one other time in recent memory has a film been withdrawn from circulation; and as it turned out, it was a poorly-made and arguably inflammatory film about Mohammad. Religious fanatics and despotic rulers appear to have much in common, after all. And neither of these groups or individuals should be dictating what a larger population considers entertainment, nor should they be attempting to censor it for others.
Israel is internationally acknowledged as a country which does not cave into terrorists or their demands and it is doubtful that this sort of economic threat could ever happen here in Israel. For one thing, we have rather good anti-hacking capabilities. For another, no one here would tolerate being told what they can or cannot see in a movie theater. This is why you will never see a “net neutrality” discussion in the corridors of the Knesset. Never mind the price of cottage cheese. Try taking the Internet away from your average Israeli or even slowing down its speed and World War III would ensue in prompt order. On the other hand, the U.S. has much to learn in this regard and it appears evident that 9/11 has taught them nothing about protecting their own citizens, other than checking the shoes and laptops of traveling folks at airports. They can build massive repositories in Utah for terabytes of data from every American who ever used a cellphone, computer or the Internet, but if they can’t teach company executives how to avoid their personal computers being hacked by opening suspicious emails, they are a massive waste of resources. Considering that the most talented hackers in the world are still in high school, this should indicate how far the cyber protection industries still have to go in order to fix this issue. Even the behemoth Department of Homeland Security with the largest budget of all government agencies could not stop a few tech-savvy ignoramuses from threatening to bring down all of Hollywood. American television will be next if this problem is not pro-actively addressed in the coming days.
Wait until Kim Jung-Un finds out Seth Rogen is Jewish.