The biggest pop culture story of 2014
…And we missed it
Murphy’s Law used to be more than the kitschy crap that people print on remove-a-day calendars. Murphy’s Law has actually been tossed around as early as 1866, but was first called “Murphy’s Fourth Law of Thermodynamics” by physicist Howard Percy Robertson in June 1949. The law stated simply that, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” It should make sense, then, that the starter pistol for World War III seems to have been fired while the Carillon was on its Christmas break.
On Nov. 24, Sony Pictures Entertainment was hacked by a group calling themselves the Guardians of Peace (GOP). Not realizing that there’s already a radical fear-mongering GOP in existence, the hackers announced that they had “obtained all [Sony’s] internal data” and that the company’s “top secrets” would soon be released.
The online community was incredulous. It was only last year that Sony Computer Entertainment America had its online services crippled by hackers; surely, they couldn’t have remained just as vulnerable to attacks for so long? By the time Sylvester Stallone’s social security number leaked online, all fears were taken out behind the shed and shot in the back of the head.
While the staff of Sony Pictures Entertainment was running around trying to stop each other from committing seppuku on the newly-waxed tile, the GOP announced that this breach of information was a response to the new Judd Apatow film, The Interview. The film, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco revolves around two bumbling boobs sent to North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong-un on the behalf of the CIA. Think the bastard lovechild of The Manchurian Candidate and Pineapple Express. The GOP also announced that any theatre screening The Interview on Christmas Day would be the target of violence. The final message from the GOP said that, “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.” Although North Korea denied any ties with the Guardians of Peace, they officially claim the attack is a “righteous act.”
Amidst an FBI investigation and continued dumping of inter-personal emails, medical records, and unreleased films, theatre chains begin pulling their plans to screen The Interview. Finally, on Dec. 17, Sony cancelled all plans to screen the film. Two days later, the FBI publicly confirms that the origins of the cyber-attack were North Korean. America promised “an appropriate response” to North Korea. North Korea threatened to attack the White House and the Pentagon, called President Obama a monkey, and flipped the United Nations the bird.
That’s about all we know. We’re still suffering in the shitstorm surrounding The Interview. The film was released on VOD services and in limited run on Christmas Day, after all. No theaters were blown up. James Franco and Seth Rogen are still alive. Judd Apatow is still making masturbation jokes. Nothing seems to have changed. Oh, except the power dynamic of global politics forever.
For a lot of years, now, North Korea has been the kid on the playground who throws a tantrum when he’s told that he can’t always win. Ordinarily, the rest of the world just pelted him with dodgeballs and moved on. This time was different, though. This time, the biggest kid on the playground gave North Korea a sucker and said, “That was a mighty good tantrum. Keep it up, champ!”
Regardless of whether or not the film actually was screened (it was screened limitedly on Christmas Day by indie American theatres), the idea that a multi-billion dollar company can be brought to its knees by the empty threats of another country is fucking appalling.
Despite what one of our frequent contributors thinks, this whole situation reeks to high heaven of Orwell. Who else could have predicted that the “big brother” of one country would control both the medium and the message of another country? This is 2014 for Christ’s sake. Even Adolf Hitler got publicly lampooned by Charlie Chaplin, and Hitler was about a billion times worse than Kim Jong-un could ever hope to be.
In short, we’re all fucking doomed. The question of whether or not Apatow and company had any business entering foreign politics with all of the grace of a Panzer tank is no longer the issue. The problem is that if they choose to make such a firebrand film, they should be allowed to, without fear of persecution. The media of one country should be the concern of that country.
If North Korea wants to print that Kim Jong-un is a holy deity, not only should they be allowed to print it, but believe it. Similarly, we should all be able to make fun of how batshit crazy that all sounds. I would say, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,” but I’ve just been informed that the Carillon has been purchased by North Korea, as any form of North American free speech could be damaging to the supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
So, hail Kim, I guess.
UPDATE: (Thursday, Jan. 08, 5:03 PM) I mis-facted. Except for some inflammatory tweets directed at Sony, Judd Apatow actually had no part in producing/directing The Interview. Although this does not invalidate the number of masturbation jokes Apatow makes, I regret the error. (PM)