Unless you are living under a rock, or in North Korea, maybe, which is the same thing really, you might have heard about all the hullabaloo surrounding the filming and the release (mostly the latter) of the movie, The Interview. To be honest, I am disappointed by Sony’s decision, not so much because I won’t be able to watch what could have been a brilliant political comedy- the two theatrical trailers seems to suggest as much- but also because what the North Koreans, or the hackers, rather, managed to do was to intimidate everybody, including big-shot politicians within the American political hierarchy. And they had to do nothing much, except to launch a coordinated cyber attack on one of the world’s biggest distribution companies and spill out all its scripts, personal details, emails et al. Further on, as if that wasn’t enough, the hackers then went on a threatening spree, promising a ÔÇ£9/11 style attackÔÇØ on theatres that commit the mistake of premiering the movie. Soon thereafter, Sony announced that The Interview won’t be released.
What happened is pretty straightforward to understand: The Interview is a movie that, among other things, makes the ÔÇ£Supreme LeaderÔÇØ of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, dictator, the subject of a spoof. The Supreme Leader got really upset. Once he got the whiff- and he gets the whiff pretty quickly, that such a movie was about to be released, and that such a movie is already making rounds in newspapers and entertainment magazines, he wanted to ensure the movie be stopped.
It is under speculation whether or not the hackers actually had any ties with North Korea- they might not have any, but they certainly sympathize with the North Korean leader. Kim while denying any role in the hacking, hailed the hackers and their threats. He did not stop at that, though. Kim Jong-un further added that worst is coming. This, while consequently offering the US and Sony a joint probe into the scandal. I could almost see that sly smile light up the leader’s white little face. With the Sony now scrapping the release (almost, since it is bound to turn up on online torrent websites soon enough), it has, in fact, ended up humouring the North Koreans rather than it being other way round.
It isn’t as if dictator movies haven’t been made. Movies, like The Great Dictator, for example, or even the more recent, The Dictator, have had us all roll on the floor, laughing our hearts away. The politics of such movies works to reduce an authoritative figure into a weak, shy and typically stupid little fellow who is, nonetheless, being feared by the society he forces his rule upon. It makes for an engaging watch, for those who know none of it, and who don’t wish to, either. The Interview, critics- who did get a chance to watch the film before it was axed- have suggested, is one such typically humorous dictator movie that one should watch for the sheer contradictions it shows.
Others have, panned it. In the event that the scandal hadn’t erupted over its release, they say,┬á it wouldn’t have stayed in theatres for more than a week, two at the most. The plot, they write within the pages of entertainment magazines and newspapers, is absurd, to be mild, and pretty much against the expectations. It presents to us a North Korea that is far removed from the Orwellian nightmare that it is known for, and quite intentionally. And yet, the final verdict is, The Interview is worth a watch- if the viewers could watch it, that is, which does not seem to be a possibility for the next few months at least.
The events have, if nothing, proved the capacities of intimidating and threatening the enemy, ItÔÇÖs not as if the North Koreans could have actually done anything- they have, in past, made such empty threats. But the hackers managed to intimidate the company, and make it fret at the mention of 9/11, and it was enough for them to display to the world that even the biggest of entertainment companies, and even the World’s most powerful superpower could be threatened and made to comply.
Barack Obama has promised action, so has Sony, but the events that have unfolded up until now have proved that the freedom to express creatively, and the concept of cinematic liberation are both under threat.
ItÔÇÖs time for a few Kim spoofs to go viral on the internet.