The Interview and Kim Jong-un farce is no laughing matter

I don't think it's a publicity stunt. I just think that a really bad film got lucky

Dom Joly@domjoly
Sunday 28 December 2014 01:01
Kim Jong-un is the subject of an assassination attempt as part of the plot of 'The Interview' (AFP)
Kim Jong-un is the subject of an assassination attempt as part of the plot of 'The Interview' (AFP)

So it turns out that The Interview – the world’s most over-hyped movie since Ishtar – is a pile of poo… who’d have thunk it? I’m not a huge fan of Seth Rogen and James Franco at the best of times. The idea that they might have somehow made a biting satirical comedy that both exposes and ridicules the hideous Pyongyang regime was the only laughable thing about the whole affair.

I’m a total anti-conspiracy theorist type of guy. I can’t, however, stop thinking that, just possibly, the Sony HackingGate affair might just be the world’s greatest publicity stunt? There are queues round the block now to see this awful movie. These defiant punters are showing Pyongyang that “nobody tells me what shit to see …”

Meanwhile all Sony have to do is release some “embarrassing” stuff from in-house emails that allows them to say what they really think about their pampered stars? Crazier things have happened in showbusiness …

The only flaw is that Sony pulled the release of the movie and backed down before climbing back up. This didn’t make them look too good. Fronting up to the evil dictator and telling him where to get off before releasing a father/son double bill of Team America: World Police/The Interview would have been way cooler. So I don’t think it’s a publicity stunt. I just think that a really bad film got lucky.

I’ve been to North Korea for one of my books – The Dark Tourist – and I can tell you that the movie scene out there is not exactly thriving. The year I was there they had the first Pyongyang International Film Festival, and Mr Bean was the only international movie cleared for screening to the populace. Despite it being an almost entirely dialogue-free movie there was a state-sponsored “interpreter” whose job was to stand at the side of the screen and “guide” the audience through what was happening with the use of a loudhailer. Sadly, my Korean is rusty and I was unable to follow most of his rolling critique, but I would imagine that, were his version to be released in the West, it would become an instant cult classic.

Kim Jong-un’s father, the late Kim Jong-il was not averse to interfering in the movie world, although he did so in a far more direct way. He once had North Korean agents kidnap the South Korean film director Shin Sang-ok and bring him to North Korea. Shin (South Korea’s Orson Welles) was put in a prison camp for years before being forced to make various movies for Kim Jong-il. The highlight of these was probably Pulgasari, a truly spectacularly appalling North Korean version of Godzilla.

So Seth Rogen and James Franco had better watch their step. One minute they might be rolling a fat doobie in one of their swanky Hollywood Hills homes, and the next find themselves in a crate bound for Pyongyang and a crash course in seriously ass-kissing cinema.

I’m not saying I’d like this to happen, but I doubt the movie world would be any poorer for it.

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