not in our stars, but in ourselves
Dear god. What a rotten world we live in.
Let’s start at the end, with the most recent development: Sony is completely canceling any release plans for the Seth Rogen-James Franco vehicle, The Interview. They arrived at this decision after major movie theatre chains in the U.S. announced that they would not show the film, citing concerns about terrorist activity by the so-called Guardians of Peace (didn’t you know that the GOP was officially a terrorist group? it’s the plain truth). According to CNN, a “news” source with a long history of always being 100% right, the U.S. government has determined that North Korea is indeed responsible for the catastrophic hack of Sony’s emails, documents, budgets, etc., etc. – all because North Korea was furious that The Interview was a real movie that was really being released. Not only that it was really being released, but also that its plot is literally about killing Kim Jong-Un. It’s about fucking Seth Rogen and James Franco killing an acting, existing head of state.
The number of white tears I’ve seen flooding the internet since Sony officially pulled the plug is staggering. Waves and waves of bitter white tears. “Free speech!” they sob. “Why should we let extremists tell US what to see?!” they wail. “If I want to laugh my big fat American ass off at a joke about killing someone who’s a real person, why the hell shouldn’t I!”
Kristen Wiig, help me out.
You know what? The Interview should never have been greenlit, nor produced, nor marketed. It has been an obvious turd from its very inception. Let the terrorists win this one. They’re doing us a favor. Sony was aware from early on that the movie was about as funny as pushing grandma down the stairs (to borrow Gregory Peck’s phrase when describing Arthur Miller’s rewrite of Let’s Make Love). The fact that it was also liable to upset a deeply humorless head of state should have made at least someone pipe up to suggest some alterations.
Some of those white tears have tried it with The Great Dictator (1940). The Great Dictator was Charlie Chaplin’s first talkie (yes, really, in 1940), and it also happened to be a big send-up of Adolf Hitler. If Chaplin could do it to Adolf Hitler, the white tears scream as they gnash their teeth, why oh why can’t we do it to Kim Jong-Un?
Here are a couple of reasons your argument is completely fucking invalid:
(1) In The Great Dictator, we do not have Charlie Chaplin starring as Adolf Hitler, Führer of Germany. We have Charlie Chaplin starring as Adenoid Hynkel, dictator of Tomania. Obviously, we are meant to understand that the movie is about Hitler – but it’s not ACTUALLY Hitler.
(2) Nobody kills Hynkel. Nobody TRIES to kill Hynkel. Chaplin thought Hitler was a huge danger, and wanted to raise awareness in the U.S. – which, until Pearl Harbor, kept its head buried deep in the sand about what was happening across the ponds – but he didn’t make a movie advocating the murder of an acting head of state, however deplorable he was. If you remember, The Great Dictator actually ends with a lovely, rousing speech from a little Jewish barber (also played by Chaplin) who’s been mistaken for Hynkel. It’s schmaltzy, but it’s kind of nice.
(3) Chaplin wasn’t perfect as a filmmaker, and he was pretty skeezy as a person, but I would happily take five billion Chaplins over the gruesome twosome of Rogen and Franco. Give me the Little Tramp’s sentimentality and self-seriousness any day of the week over the barrel-scraping stoner humor of Judd Apatow’s most determined cocksuckers.
Do I think it’s troubling that an American film could be scuttled by international terrorism? Yes, certainly. These are scary times. Do I think the universe is better off without The Interview? You’re goddamn right.