(Update: Sony has canceled the release of The Interview)
There’s a very real possibility that you won’t get to see The Interview in a theater. Sony has already given screens across the country permission to drop the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy if they’re nervous and the studio is reportedly considering pulling the scheduled Christmas release altogether. Such a move would instantly catapult the film’s status to that of legend, making it one of the most — if not the most — subversive movie ever made, a multi-million dollar investment that was considered an “act of war” by a foreign government and which brought an entire entertainment company to its knees and inspired threats of terrorism.
That’s what has happened over the past 24 hours: Hackers who’ve spent three weeks devastating Sony’s computer network and unleashing its biggest personal and proprietary secrets to the world have now dropped their “Christmas gift,” the entire contents of Sony CEO Michael Lynton’s personal e-mail account, while threatening 9/11-like retaliation against anyone who shows the movie. The hackers themselves seem to be working directly with the North Korean government, on behalf of it, or are perhaps simply pretending to. Regardless, someone who alludes to being aligned with a totalitarian nation has effectively shut down — censored — the release of a piece of art to the world far outside that nation’s tiny borders.
And that’s why it’s suddenly very important that you watch and share the video clip you’re about to see.
(Update: Reports now say that U.S. officials have indeed linked North Korea to the attack on Sony.)
This is what caused North Korea to threaten the United States and what may have led to an unprecedented act of cyberterrorism by someone against a private entertainment company which is based on U.S. soil. Maybe you wouldn’t think of Seth Rogen’s style of comedy as significant and audacious, but he says that it was never even a question for him and Franco as to whether they would “kill” Kim Jong-un in The Interview. “He is bad. It’s controversial to him,” he said to the New York Times, “But to everyone else, it’s fine.” It wasn’t to Sony, though. The company reportedly pleaded that the assassination of Kim be changed, but Rogen and Franco said, “Nope.”
One of the truly profound effects social media has had on our world is that it’s made it next to impossible for anyone to effectively censor information. Maybe you can shut down one or two sources, but a total media blackout is almost out of the question, because every person is now his or her own transmitter. The Interview will probably wind up in theaters in some form, at some point, but right now it feels incredibly “necessary” to make sure everyone can see the climax of the film: the scene in which an artillery shell takes out Kim Jong-un’s helicopter and, in phantom cam-like slow motion — the result of special effects — Kim’s head catches on fire and explodes. E-mails between Sony Corporate and the film’s producers show the scene was toned down in an effort to make it more absurdist and less genuinely gruesome, but the end result is still the same.
This is what North Korea is furious about and this is what a group of cyberterrorists claim is behind its extraordinary attack on Sony and American moviegoers. When something is censored, it’s automatically elevated. It becomes important, whether it deserves to be or not. Indulging in it and circulating it becomes a kind of moral imperative — as silly as this might sound, an act of defiance. So indulge in this and make sure others do as well.
Update: The original version of this clip was taken down but our own Tommy Christopher replaced it. Fuck you, Sony.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.