On Wednesday, the collective cowardice of Sony Pictures Entertainment and the nation’s major theater chains including AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, led to the cancellation of the Dec. 25 release of The Interview. The capitulation came after terrorists working for the government of North Korea threatened September 11th-esque attacks on cinemas screening it because it depicts an assassination of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un. Sony has been subjected to a massive cyberattack in which embarrassing email exchanges between employees were made public, giving the conglomerate the added incentive of wanting to avoid further breaches.
But the premiere of The Interview wasn’t the only casualty, as the production of a Steve Carell film that was to begin in March and set in North Korea has now been canceled by New Regency.
To call ’embarrassing’ this craven response to not credible threats made at the behest of a fat despotic elf a world away is an understatement. The North Korean government can’t provide the food its people need to avoid starving to death, but it can bring the multibillion dollar industry that is Hollywood to its gelatinous knees. And since those knees aren’t helping it stand tall, the humanitarian thing to do is to send them to the hermit kingdom so starving North Koreans can sustain themselves on jello for as long as they can.
Or maybe that’s impractical. Maybe the more feasible solution is to send all movie and television scripts to the Dear Leader in advance so that he may decide — for 320 million Americans and billions of others — what they can and cannot see. After all, we don’t know where this will end. This censorship has begun with a movie in which North Korea’s leader is killed, so it’s only reasonable to ask if there will be other films that might draw the ire of the flabby-faced tyrant who will want them suppressed. What of a movie about the Korean War? Or communism? How about a film on Napoleon complexes? Bad haircuts? Or maybe a mockumentary about how Kim Jong-un may very well comprise the entire obese demographic of North Korea?
You may think I jest, but surely I don’t. This movie mayhem is a grave surrender of free expression and will only embolden the nefarious forces that now brandish its head on a pike. Two production companies and the major cinema chains have staked out their position firmly in the fear camp in this fiasco, which announces loud and clear to the perpetrators of this and all future such crimes that violence is the only true power. And so now when a studio executive wants to move forward on production of a script, that executive should first send it Pyongyang for approval. There, Kim can consult with his inner circle of righteous censors to parse every line to make sure none of them offend the sensitivities of the Party leadership or plain common decency.
And if it is the case that Sony and New Regency are pulling their films because they fear more computer breaches, let them use corporate self-interest as the reason for bringing this embarrassment upon the United States instead of grandstanding about the need prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Whatever the reason, Hollywood has declared open season on itself to every tyrant, terrorist, Christian fundamentalist, Islamic extremist, communist, capitalist, anarchist, disgruntled studio employee, and all-around whackadoo by cowering in fear at the hollow words of a tinpot tyrant.
It’s too often said, “Not even Hollywood couldn’t write a script like this.” Well here it’s absolutely true.
Because studios would never produce a film that made them look so chickenshit.