Watching a movie is one of the weirder acts of patriotism that’s ever existed in this country. It almost defies logic in terms of the action itself not requiring much effort beyond sitting and watching for 2 hours.
Yet, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s The Interview and all the circumstances surrounding its release made watching a movie with a bunch of dick jokes into an act of standing up for freedom of speech that will probably go down in U.S. History textbooks in the not so distant future. Ironically, there are probably very few parts of the film that would be shown in most classrooms.
Before we go further, here’s a quick summary of how a Rogen/Goldberg picture became an international incident:
–Based off of threats against screening The Interview as well as the massive hack of Sony Pictures from the hackers known as The Guardians of Peace (that have been linked to the North Korean government), Sony Pictures and major U.S. theater chains couldn’t come to terms with dealing with a potential security risk from screening it.
-The Interview was then pulled from theaters for its Christmas Day release and Sony had made no other plans to release it otherwise.
-Hundreds of independent theaters and small theater chains gathered together to tell Sony Pictures that they would screen the movie and Sony finally opted to release the movie on its original Christmas Day release date as well as put it on VOD via YouTube, Google Play, and Xbox Video.
–President Obama and The White House have even been involved extensively throughout the whole incident saying that Sony made a mistake by not releasing that and subsequently being glad that it did get released as originally planned. Obama has even stated that there will be a proportionate response to the hack of Sony Pictures.
There are plenty of films that you can cite for causing controversy throughout the cinematic canon. Whether it be the explicit nature of Salo or even Ridley Scott’s latest Exodus: Gods and Kings just getting banned in Egypt, it’s extremely rare for a single movie to have political implications that stem far beyond the actual release of the movie itself.
Knowing that, it’s even more unbelievable that The Interview will know be put up as one of the most controversial movies of all time by virtue of the fact that an entire corporation had all their information leaked and brought about “9/11 style threats”. All the other films on that list have much more incendiary content and are probably much more upsetting to watch, but either just got banned by a country or protested by various interest or religious groups.
We saw The Interview last night, enjoyed it, and found a whole new layer of humor just off the idea that anyone would be so mad at watching any of this that they would hack entire an corporation and risk the anger of a superpower just to stop it. One scene has Seth Rogen shakes his dick at North Korean guards and the term “honeydicking” is used profusely throughout the film’s duration.
Yes, there’s an on-screen death of Kim Jong-Un depicted in the film and there are scenes that could be deemed “culturally insensitive”, but none of it seemed to be even close to the ire drawn by other historically controversial films like Triumph of the Will or Birth of a Nation. The Interview is an amped-up, rambunctious satire that more belongs in the same sentence with Team America: World Police.
So far, the threats of anything happening to people watching The Interview have been empty. Many screenings on Christmas Day were sold out and it has reached the top of the charts for VOD where it’s available.
This incident is an unprecedented intersection of comedy and geopolitics and is, as we said before, history in the making. If Argo was a movie about the CIA making a movie to avoid an international incident, then the making and release of The Interview should most certainly be a movie. Hopefully, if that happens, and with any luck, Armando Ianucci, the man who marries politics and comedy perfectly in Veep, In The Loop, and The Thick of It, would be at the helm.