Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Film's Power 'The Interview' Really Does Subvert North Korea's Regime

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Film's Power 'The Interview' Really Does Subvert North Korea's Regime

Article excerpt

For starters, "The Interview" is very funny, in the Seth Rogen foul-mouthed, silly way.

And while the propriety of showing a real world head of state being assassinated can be debated - the latest in a long list of political and social boundaries pushed by Hollywood - it also has moments that are surprisingly smart and politically astute.

That is why the North Koreans have reacted so aggressively. Because if this movie is seen by audiences around the world, and if copies are pirated in to North Korea, it is a very real challenge to the ruling regime's legitimacy.

In "The Interview," Seth Rogen and James Franco, as celebrity interviewer and aspirant hard news producer invited to question Kim Jong Un on live TV, openly ask why the country can spend billions of dollars on a nuclear weapons program but needs $100 million in U.N. aid each year to feed its people.

The hagiography of Kim Jong Un is relentlessly mocked - the idea of the Dear Successor as superhero meets military genius with a little style icon and dolphin whisperer thrown in plays for big laughs.

North Korea's domestic narrative, where the calendar begins with the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country's founder, and now lives in the year 103, is explained to show how disconnected the place is from the rest of the world.

There are serious riffs on North Korea's gulags and horrifying human rights record, decades of famine, brainwashing propaganda and cartoonish self-importance.

When "The Interview" veers in to these sociopolitical realities and with some 45 million people worldwide having watched Mr. Rogen's last two movies, it becomes quite subversive to the Pyongyang government.

Think of the movie as Chernobyl for the digital age. Just as the nuclear catastrophe in the Soviet Union and the dangerously clumsy efforts to hide it exposed the Kremlin's leadership as inept and morally bankrupt, overseeing a superpower rusting from the inside, so does "The Interview" risk eroding the myths, fabrications and bluster that keep the Kim dynasty in power.

Mr. Rogen and director Evan Goldberg intentionally did not avoid dangerous content. …

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