I want to begin this argument by saying that the dictatorial regime that governs North Korea is brutal and terrifying and clearly guilty of countless abuses of human rights. And today's news that Kim Jong-un considers the release of Seth Rogen and James Franco's new film, The Interview, an "act of war" is not a comforting thought.
At the same time, I gotta say, Kim…I understand.
The international furor over The Interview has to be the least surprising piece of news since Zoolander was banned in Malaysia because its plot revolves around killing the Malaysian Prime Minister (and depicts the country as being filled with sweatshops). But at least in Zoolander, the plot to kill the Malaysian Prime Minister is foiled by our heroes. In The Interview, Rogen (who co-wrote and directed with Evan Goldberg) and Franco are journalists who score an interview with Kim Jong-un and are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader.
From the trailer, it seems Kim (played by Randall Park) will play a major role, and is lampooned for bamboozling his citizens into believing he can speak to dolphins. At one point, a nuke flies through the air. "Wanna go kill Kim Jong-un?" Franco yuks to Rogen. "Totally, I'd love to assassinate Kim Jong-un, it's a date!"
The North Korean government has condemned the film without naming it, calling Rogen and Goldberg "gangster filmmakers" and the plot a "blatant act of terrorism and war" that was triggering "a gust of hatred and rage." It's okay, Kim, I get it! If someone made a movie where movie stars tried to kill me, and they didn't even ask my permission to make it, I'd be really bummed too.
Sure, Kim is overreacting. "If the US administration allows and defends the showing of the film, a merciless counter-measure will be taken," said his spokesman, who maybe forgot that we have a First Amendment in our country and that there's not a ton the U.S. government can do about the release of a film. And yes, he's playing right into Rogen and Franco's hands with this, guaranteeing The Interview tons of publicity before its November release.
Plus, above everything else, if I were Kim Jong-un I'd be really insulted. The premise of the film harkens back to the early 1940s, when comic book heroes like Captain America and Superman were drawn punching Hitler in the face, since the Nazi leader was such a universally despised villain. Kim has now risen to that level, but the best we can come up with to take him down is…James Franco and Seth Rogen? It's downright insulting. Maybe that's where the "gust of hatred and rage" is really coming from.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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