Probably most everyone knows the basic storyline – Sony Pictures makes a movie called, “The Interview” in which two of our citizens, who look bafoonish, are sent to North Korea to interview King Jong-un their Supreme Leader. The purpose though is for these two Americans to assassinate their Leader (at least that is what I get out of the plot watching the trailers). It is not a serious movie. It is supposed to be a comedy. The North Korean leader, and North Korea, are painted in very uncomplimentary ways.
Probably everyone knows what happened next. Hackers attacked Sony Pictures, stole a bunch of data, and threatened the company and its employees. They even threatened theaters that would show the movie. Sony decides this week to pull the movie. Freedom of Speech advocates, Hollywood artists, and even the President cry foul. Sony denies they crumpled under pressure. We say its not over. The real life story goes on.
Here’s my question – if we live in a society largely made up of Christians, why are we supporting movies like “The Interview?” A parallel question is if Sony is indeed a Japanese company, why don’t they have the cultural sensitivity to know this would not go down well?
This isn’t a question of freedom of speech or artistic freedom. It is a question about being a neighbor in the community of nations. There probably is no nation that we get along with more poorly than North Korea. Their values are vastly different from our own. Few people over here have any desire to visit that nation state. Likewise, they view us as ground zero of what is wrong in the world. We have spent vast sums of money over the years helping to make sure it’s southern neighbor isn’t invaded again. They continue to spend inordinate proportions of their budget on their military.
So, why make a movie that is intentionally provocative to them? We might not want a supreme leader. The very idea may be anathema to us. But different cultures operate in different ways. Why try to make a buck on low brow humor at the expense of a country that views much of the world as their enemies and we well know would take great offense at such a plot line? What is the profit is there for anyone?
Christians all espouse that we believe in Jesus’ golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Did Jesus mock the Romans or the Greeks? Was ridiculing Jesus’ way? Jesus went further though. He told us to love our enemies. He told us to do good to those who hate us. I just can’t imagine Jesus smiling at the people making, or anyone watching the movie.
And even if one is not a Christian, just as an American, is this the best input our great nation has to a small nation that hates us?
Likewise, for a Japanese corporation, whose best interest are in selling movies worldwide, and knowing the regional sensitivities that exist, I have no idea who would green light this project. Whatever ticket sales would come from such a venture would surely be accompanied by more expensive costs on the public relations front (and that doesn’t even count the hacking costs).
I don’t know what everyone should do at this point. I’ll let other writers speak to that. I just want to step out of the real world for a moment into a theoretical one and ponder why we allow situations like this to occur. Can’t we be bigger than this? Most importantly, can’t we be better in the future?
If North Korea is ever to change, embrace democracy, and join in the community of nations, this is not the way for us to help make this happen. This is not the way to sell freedom to a nation that has none. We have more to offer the North Koreans than comedy that is offensive to them.
What do you think?
Until next time,