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 Public relations and public fear superseded the creative process, and canceled what many would consider nothing more than a stoner-esque comedy poking fun at Americans just as much as Kim Jong-Un.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.