by Tyler MacKinnon
A few years ago if someone said that a movie featuring the guy from Knocked Up was going to cause an international incident, I would have rolled my eyes. After the scandal following the release of the 2014 comedy The Interview, my eyes rolled right back into my head. Suddenly, the internet blew up like a North Korean attempt at a missile launch. From allegations of cyber terrorism to ludicrous claims that this movie will cause World War 3, pundits filled the airwaves with hysteria. After an initially limited release, the film got mixed reviews. No film could live up to such hype. So what was the flic really all about?
The movie tells the story of a shallow, very stupid celebrity talk show host named Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer, Aaron Rapoport (Canada’s Seth Rogen). Rapoport wants to be taken more seriously as a journalist. After discovering that North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jung Un, is a huge fan of their show, he scores an interview with the infamous dictator. When the CIA learns of the upcoming encounter, it coaxes them to assassinate Kim. When Skylark and Rapoport get to North Korea they meet a child-like, though strangely sympathetic Kim Jung Un. Viewers are exposed to dozens of strange facts about North Korea and its leader. Anyone who reads about North Korea on the internet has likely come across this stuff multiple times, such as his alleged fear of barbers, love of basketball, and how he has no need to urinate or defecate.
For the most part, The Interview is really funny. The plot has many holes, and the third act is rushed. But the very likeable pairing of Franco and Rogen holds it together. However, it is Randall Park, the actor playing Kim Jung Un, who steals the show. Almost every one of his lines is comic gold. The movie also sends up the ridiculous notion that the CIA killing Kim Jung Un would improve things. Instead, it suggests that the North Korean people must themselves fight to win their freedom. The film is by no means an American nationalist work. Various characters, most notably Kim himself, argue that the very crimes Washington accuses North Korea of committing, the U.S. is doing to a much greater extent. The film never directly mocks North Korea, or even shows what life is like in the country. It is simply a “bromance” movie, with North Korea’s dictator serving as a Macguffin. I am glad the film was released, even to a limited extent. It is probably one of the best comedies of 2014, although not Seth Rogen’s best work. However, the question remains. Did the North Korean government have a legitimate reason to criticize the film. Well, yes!
Don’t forget the legacy left by the Korean War (1950-53). North Korea was leveled by American aerial bombardment. Over 1.2 million people died in the conflict. To this day, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea continues to suffer U.S. economic sanctions, which have much to do with the mass malnutrition there (something the film also points out). The United States has never missed an opportunity to bully North Korea, whether by means of politics, economics, or even pop culture. When Sony decided not to show the film, North Korea faced all kinds of accusations, including being falsely condemned for trying to hack Sony. It turns out that disgruntled former Sony employees are the likely culprits.
The U.S.-imposed label that North Korea is a rogue state, is employed by the imperial power and its allies to isolate the DPRK. They want the world to forget that it was America’s constant threat of war, alongside North Korea’s terrible military-first policy, that led North Korea to develop nuclear weapons. While North Korean is ruled by a tyrannical dictator, with a regime that bears no resemblance to socialism, the United States has no right to attack a sovereign nation. When U.S. President Obama placed further sanctions on North Korea, it was not to motivate Korean workers to revolt against their oppressors. It was to further the imperialist agenda of control of Asian resources. Remember that it was the United States, not the DPRK, that launched drone bombers and wars of aggression all over the world to shore up its declining empire. So when an American film shows the assassination of the North Korean leader, it is understandable that the isolated regime would be concerned.
To conclude, The Interview is hilarious. People, particularly socialists, should see it. What better way is there to spark up a conversation with friends about how socialism differs so radically from the demented version of Pyongyang’s biggest Katy Perry fan.