There's no delicate way to discuss exploding heads over email.
In September, when Sony Pictures' Amy Pascal relayed concerns from corporate headquarters in Japan about a climactic scene of The Interview—featuring the fiery, slow-motion assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, to the tune of Katy Perry's "Firework"—director Seth Rogen responded with a concession.
“We will make it less gory," the Canadian comedian offered. "There are currently four burn marks on his face. We will take out three of them, leaving only one. We reduce the flaming hair by 50%." In October, Rogen sent Pascal a follow-up message with the subject line "Kim Face Fix," noting that "the entire secondary wave of head chunks" had been removed. A special-effects technician later weighed in with an update: "the goop from the head pop is darker, specifically to make it less flesh-like and more surreal."
But that's the thing about The Interview: Far from being surreal, the film revolves around a very real, very-much-still-ruling world leader, whatever the color of the goop spraying from his head. It involves a plot in which the CIA tasks two American journalists with killing that leader. And that leader's government, which presides over nuclear weapons and a population of 25 million, has described the movie as an "act of war" and, according to the U.S. government, ordered hackers to respond with a massive cyberattack on Sony Pictures—a breach that produced the leaked email exchange above. It's hard to contain outrage about a head exploding, when that head is a sitting head of state's. It's even harder when that exploding head is a punchline for a 112-minute joke.