The Death of 'The Interview' and Its Meaning to Art

The Death of 'The Interview' and Its Meaning to Art

I love art for its freedom. I love art for its simplistic complexities. I love art for its infinite possibilities. I love art for its ability to make me feel happy, feel sad, laugh out loud like a crazy person, feel empathy and feel completely alone. Which is exactly why the reasoning behind the cancellation of the film ‘The Interview’ makes me feel outraged.

For those of you who may not follow pop culture news, Sony has been hit with a truckload of problems over the last few weeks. From having millions of people's information stolen, to evidence of racism and hate through their private emails, Sony has had an interesting month to say the least. Among the emerging scandals comes the film The Interview, a satirist comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogan, where the two play a production team for a TMZ-like television show who then get the opportunity to interview North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un. Eventually, in this (once again) comedy, the CIA get involved and attempt to turn two bumbling idiots into trained assassins, in an attempt to kill the dictator overlord. Sadly, announced today, the film has been canceled, just a few days before its release.

The reason for cancelation is fear. The proclaimed hackers of Sony Entertainment stated yesterday that if this film was to reach movie theaters, they’d blow up the said theaters as a terrorist act. The threats were met with confusion, cancellation of publicity events, and eventually, the cancellation of the film in its entirety - just two days before it’s red carpet premiere.

As a result of capitulation, art lost in a major way today. While this movie wouldn’t likely make many “all-time favorite" lists, it’s still considered art, and something that creative minds have worked hard to forge. Public relations and public fear superseded the creative process, and canceled what many would consider nothing more than a stoner-esque comedy poking fun at Americans just as much as Kim Jong-Un.

My love for art stems all the way back to my childhood. It started with drawing; often drawing crude monsters that my mother would toss up on the refrigerator. It then moved to music, writing songs that had little to no melody, and not much tempo to boot. And now I’m at photography, where I’m taking photos of people, sometimes mundane in nature, but creating none the less. The reasoning for all of this, regardless of the medium, has always been the same - which is the freedom to do, without any limitations.

I also understand fear. My love for art also comes as a parallel to fear, knowing that if my work isn't up to my own critiques, I'm able to destroy it and start fresh. Threats to blow up theaters as a response is in no way something that should be taken lightly. However, fear is designed for one purpose, to seize freedoms; all while art is the expressionism of freedom. So when art and fear go head to head, art should be the clear victor - which, today - was not.

So what does this mean for indie film makers? If Sony, one of the largest identities in the world, can crumble as a response to simple threats, what happens to the films who are already faced with a million other struggles? Does this cancelation radiate a future where all work must be noncontroversial in nature? How are we able to produce creative and interesting art if it can easily be torn away from us with some empty threats?

The statement made by Sony is equivalent to saying that art needs to be good enough to justify the potential danger it can attract, all whilst the concept of art is to have the ability to laugh in the face of danger.

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31 Comments

Zach Sutton's picture

And lets hope this isn't a publicity stunt...

I've had enough egg on my face for one lifetime.

Michael Bonocore's picture

If it is, can I be the one to fire you?

Terry Hernlund's picture

Or... given the point of your article, let's hope it is. Hm?

It's certainly suspect. There is no press release on Sony's press room site, even though everyone is quoting it.

Anonymous's picture

Films like The Interview are a consumer product, not art. That's an absolute, unflinching, lucid, certain truth.

(The issue is human liberty. The US [mostly] protects it while North Korea prohibits it. Countries with differing values have always and will always struggle to maintain a peaceful balance. There is no single answer, relations continually evolve. Duh, Sony.)

Who gave you the right to decide what is, and isn't art?

Ultimately...a group of very talented people came together to tell a story....isn't that what art is all about? Satire aside, they decided to make something that was entertaining, with their expression and values expressed. To me, that's the embodiment of art....

Anonymous's picture

The same person who gave you the right to give my portfolio photos poor ratings. ;)

Paulo Macedo's picture

BUUUURN!! hehehhehe

As you can see from my profile, I haven't rated any photos on this website. I just use it to get interesting news in the photography world....so perhaps it's someone else you should be directing your frustrations to.

He didn't decide shit. He just said HE dosn't consider it art. (I skipped all the truth defining terms...).

This is why art reaches so many. It's everyones right to call something shitty and/or genius. Doesn't change the art piece anyway.

Sam Merkel's picture

Hopefully Sony has a bunch of their best thinkers huddled into a room right about not trying to figure out a way to spin this into a big middle finger back at North Korea, but I really doubt that. There's no way that we should be letting the clearly butthurt leaders and hackers of another country censor our entertainment industry, or anything else for that matter. This is America, goddamnit

Oliver Oettli's picture

That's correct, you don't need another country to censor your entertainment industry. Your own country is doing this on its own already well enough.
just my 2 cents

Spy Black's picture

Not the first time art has been censored, Piss Christ, and it's effect on the National Endowment for the Arts comes to mind.

Sony I think was pretty gutless in it's approach to the situation. Instead of going forward with the film, they instead cowered into a corner and cried. This just gave Carte Blanche to any asshōle individual or organization to do the same with ANY artwork they object to. Thanks Sony.

All that said, I have to say, WTF was Sony and people behind The Interview thinking when they decided to make a movie without remotely disguising the real life subject portrayed? If they had made a movie like that about the American President, or the Pope, or the Ayatollah Khomeini, don't you think similar or greater backlash would have ensued?

Zach, I hope this is a publicity stunt, because otherwise we're all fùcked.

Ralph Berrett's picture

Washington may officially announce soon that the North Korean government was behind the attack, the U.S. government source said.

I am not yet going to fault Sony yet for halting the release.
First off they are a Japanese company not an American company so not only does this involve the USA gov but also the Japanese gov. That also means they have a slightly different take on freedom of speech.

Next if they are like most corps then they are using the same security protocols, so the have beef up all their cyber defenses world wide.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation warned theaters and other businesses associated with "The Interview" on Tuesday that they could be targeted in cyberattacks, according a copy of the document reviewed by Reuters.

So this means if you are AMC theaters for example not only do they need to prep for a cyber attack they need to have HR and the Lawyers explain that corp email is not private and that it being stored on a server so the employees need to make sure that there are no inappropriate emails.

Last although the threat is small North Korea is known to do stupid violent acts every now and then, from kidnapping Japanese citizens to lobbing shells into South Korea. So that means increasing security and security awareness for theaters and showings.

Last I am sure Sony Pictures wants to release this film after all you are talking about a $43,000,000 film now worth about 4 times as much because of the PR. Especially because Sony world wide has been taking a financial beating.

Justin Haugen's picture

It would be negligent for all parties involved to not take precaution in how they proceed with the movie release, so it's entirely understandable.

Silly thing is that it's been leaked online after the Sony hack so it seems counter intuitive to the original objective of North Korea to not have the movie released.

Anonymous's picture

Is the movie gonna be released at all? ive been waiting to watch it for awhile lol

Austin Burke's picture

Same, until then Team America World Police will have to keep me occupied.

Wow, the fallout continues. This is awful...

"According to Deadline.com, plans for a "paranoid thriller" set in North Korea and starring Steve Carell have been scrapped in the wake of a cyber attack against Sony Pictures that eventually led to the postponement of "The Interview.""

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/17/steve-carell-north-korea-movie_...

It's easy to call Sony gutless as if they really have nothing to lose, but don't forget that they're essentially being held hostage/blackmailed with all of those sensitive information that the hackers have stolen. This includes tens of thousands of Social Security #s of Sony employees, directors, actors, etc., internal financial reports, and even private home addresses, etc.

Cyber-terrorism is not just some 15 year old living in his mom's basement. I do hope that CIA/FBI/etc. will get to the bottom of this, though.

Paulo Macedo's picture

So, north korean terrorists. I bet they would feed themselves to death if they had the chance to leave North Korea.
Don't Japan and South Korea had enough?! I was hoping to watch this film, and now i won't, because we the West with our mighty powerful armies are afraid of some punk north korean fat ugly king wannabe!

Westley Jerdon's picture

I am calling this stunt... Just saying...

Tony Curtis's picture

Well...... SNL should have been canceled many moons ago!!! lol

Jarrett Hunt's picture

I would release it anyways along with Team America world police.

Jim Wells's picture

Who would want to spend millions of dollars in a make-believe plot to kill a dictator, that everyone knows is crazy and thinks he is a god??? Then be surprised with all the problems that come out of it?? Do we want Hollywood to be the ones that lead us into the next useless war??

I think this is more about freedom of speech which art is a part of. And for Sony (which is japanese) to capitulate to threats to not release the movie is in itself a denial of such freedom. When the large corporations fail to stand up to coercion, then everyone suffers as these institutions are the driving avenues to reach the masses. And it goes to advertising, books, news, newspapers, and filters into school books, schools... where does it end. Thus we become more like our adversary do to fear and thus become just like them. More to this than just a film, good or bad or a stunt.

Trevor Dayley's picture

Great interview with the screenwriter. http://creativescreenwriting.com/the-interview-an-act-of-war/
Favorite part, "If all countries made satirical movies about each other, and that was the only way we all fought – what a great world we’d live in.”

Von Wong's picture

This movie was poor taste to begin with. I can't see any country accepting a movie based on the assassination of their president... and almost celebrating that with joy and comedy to begin with.

Vitos ST.Rose's picture

I agree, Morality where did it go? Very poor taste I might add.

I'm boycotting Sony in response to their craven boot licking, publicity stunt or not. Freedom of Speech is nothing to punt away out of fear or a ploy for publicity. They are nothing but reprehensible cowards. At first, I was just aiming to stop seeing movies they produce, but now I'm going to extend my boycott to all their products. They should fear the reaction of freedom loving customers more than some isolated tin-horn dictator.

Anonymous's picture

Von Wong shut y'all down.

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