Sony's Cowardice Spreads to Paramount

A day after The Interview was yanked from release, the Hollywood studio that brought the world Team America prevented its own movie from being screened.

Where were you when you learned that Sony was apparently kowtowing to the cyberbullying of some (likely) North Korean thugs and canceling the release of The Interview? Were you drinking a Cuba Libre? Were you wallowing in some Pineapple Express?

Or were you dreaming of a corrective? An idea that would turn the national shame of self-censorship into something redemptive? Down in Texas where, for better or worse, sweet American muscularity blooms like bluebonnets on the highway, Alamo Drafthouse⎯a movie theater chain named for an act of defiance against a hectoring foreign force⎯decided that if it couldn't show The Interview, it would show Team America instead.

The 2004 cult classic was that corrective, a film in which the villain was a real North Korean dictator who gets impaled on a pickelhaube helmet at the end. On Wednesday, James Wallace, the theater's programmer said "We're just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation." But in a statement on its website, the subtext was aired for the universe to mainline:

THAT is how true American heroes will be celebrating this year, but if you want to let the terrorists win...well, that's your prerogative.

Two other valorous outposts, one in Ohio and one in Georgia, joined.

And then on Thursday, Paramount Pictures, which had the nerve to distribute (the highly controversial) film a decade ago, pulled the plug, reportedly ordering the theaters to not show the film. Alamo Drafthouse cited “circumstances beyond our control" in canceling its Team America screening. Capitol Theater in Cleveland put it more bluntly, tweeting that the screening “has been canceled by Paramount Pictures." The same for Plaza Theaters in Atlanta.

The studio did not comment on why it called on the theaters to not screen the film, but in this era of silent consent, Paramount either threw its lot in with Sony out of solidarity or decided to stay out of the fray by denying the screening of a film it had already released. Either way, it was cowardly.