17 December 2014
The Interview debacle: this isn't funny!
Events developed rapidly today as the threat to theatergoers planning to see The Interview from the self-styled Guardians of Peace, previously dismissed as not credible, somehow became more credible. This afternoon I read that the Bow Tie theater chain, which runs a multiplex in Schenectady, not far from where I am, had decided not to take chances by showing the Seth Rogen film. Tonight I hear that Sony Pictures, still reeling from the Guardians' hack, has pulled the comedy from release altogether. The U.S. State Department now holds North Korea responsible for the hack, although the Guardians are believed to be based outside the country. The Guardians are offended on North Korea's behalf because The Interview made a conspiracy to assassinate hereditary dictator Kim Jong Un the subject of a comedy, or of any sort of movie. The Guardians' attitude, their ideology notwithstanding, is exactly the same as the attitude of American right-wingers when they learned of a film that imagined the assassination of George W. Bush. In each case, the offense is a kind of sacrilege, and the brainless assumption is that to imagine is to advocate. But at least the Bush movie played in American theaters. King Kim and his surrogate hackers have successfully bullied Sony into suppressing their mockery of him. Apparently it isn't enough for the Guardians that governments show their idol the diplomatic minimum of respect. Instead, they demand implicitly that individuals everywhere show Kim Jong Un a respect that anyone who believes in civil liberty must withhold. But neither Kim nor his toadies has any right to expect respect from free people, nor should they expect us to mute our opinions in deference to his thin skin or from fear of his long virtual reach. If these Guardians think they're fighting the power by defending Kim's honor, then they're probably as ignorant in their own languages as they are in English on the evidence of their threats. It's one thing for Kim to oppress his own people -- and if we're to assume that they acquiesce in his rule because they don't revolt we can also assume them contemptible -- but now he and his stooges insult the entire world and violate our freedom to mock him. I may feel that no one anywhere deserves to be killed, but if I made exceptions despots like Kim would probably top the list. The only reason I didn't title this post, "Kill Kim Jong Un" is because it might have violated Blogger standards, but the sentiment is there. This is about more than a movie -- a movie that never looked like more than a piece of crap and one I wouldn't have wasted money on just to make a statement, especially since I've made a statement here and now. Fully recognizing my responsibility as a citizen to hold my own government and its leaders to standards of justice first, I still have consciousness to spare to hate tyranny elsewhere and wish it gone from the earth. Like The Interview probably is, Kim Jong Un is a big joke that isn't really funny. It should be as easy to withdraw him from circulation.