Movies

Four Thoughts on North Korea, Hollywood, Free Speech, and Terrorist Threats

Notes from the post-Interview era

|

The Film Board of Review
United Artists

1. It's a bad idea to stanch speech because you're afraid it will inspire terrorism. Note that this principle applies not just to Seth Rogen movies but to Senate reports on torture.

2. As Jeet Heer has pointed out, North Korea became one of Hollywood's go-to villains not just because it has a cruddy regime that any sensible person despises but because it seemed safe to offend it: "unlike China or [the] Islamic world it isn't a market for [the] globalized film industry." A few years ago, the studio bosses even made a last-minute change to the Red Dawn remake so the bad guys would be Korean rather than Chinese. With these threats, those days seem to be over. Not only is Sony burying The Interview, but New Regency has just cancelled an upcoming Steve Carell vehicle called Pyongyang.

3. That said, North Korea isn't necessarily behind the hack or the threats. American officials reportedly think it is, and those officials may well be right. But I won't be surprised if it turns out that a couple of kids from 4chan did the whole thing. When in doubt, pick the scenario that makes everyone involved look the most ridiculous.

4. In the meantime, more theaters should follow the example of the Alamo Drafthouse and show Team America instead.

NEXT: Apprise, appraise, iceberg, Goldberg

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Oh, I so not scare of NORKs! NORKs not a threat! Why don’t you stand right over here, Hans Brix…just a rittle further to your right….there…jut a rittle….FUCK YOU, HANS BRIX!!

    You wasting my time! Do you know how fucking BUSY I am!??!

    1. You’re brawking my bawls Hans, you’re brawking my bawls!

    2. That’s my boy, Norton Nork; you’ve done it again.

      As to point #1, ever read “The Speech” by Lord Dunsany?

      1. Someone mentioned that in the thread last night, maybe you. I’ve since found it online and will read it tonight when time affords.

  2. So… Who is going to be the bad guy now? Nazis and aliens? If you are so scared of Norks and Muslims, I would definitely advise against aliens. Imagine one day aliens will land in New York City, watch a Hollywood movie, hate it for poor script, and decide to sterilize the planet!

    Actually, Nazis are a bad idea too – what if Zombie-Hitler Project is successful? Oops, I said too much!

    1. Illinois Nazis are OK, though.

      I hate Illinois Nazis.

      1. Channelling Mel Brooks?

      2. Can’t make movies where North Korean heads of state are the bad guys, but you can make movies where random Skokie, IL nazis are the bad guys?

        Clearly another examplke of white privilege,

    2. Made up, vaguely siniste,r europeany international evil-guy organizations with names like COBRA or SPECTRE!

      1. Nah, they will just fall back to the standard villains: Evul Korporations and Power-Grabbing, Greedy Republicans.

    3. Russian oligarchs or former Soviet -Stan groups?

      1. Lukashenko and Karimov are the last exciting Hollywood villains.

        Even Russian Mafia doesn’t exist anymore – they are all accountants in Kremlin.

        ‘I will kill you with the death of 1,000 paper cuts! As you fill out this 300 page permit form’.

        Sorry, boring. World is not as exciting anymore.

    4. Korporations and Climate Change Denialists, duh.

      1. Yeah, but the people who say that don’t go to ‘violent’ movies.

      1. I can’t take them seriously enough to write them as actual villains, duped minions, maybe.

        1. Hipsters are generally 20-something DINKs- i.e. Hollywood’s 3rd top market segment. No way Hollywood casts them as villains. No way.

    5. So… Who is going to be the bad guy now?

      Drug users, drug sellers, people not obeying police, business owners, skilled labor, people without debt.

      I’m sure Hollywood will have no problem depicting US armed forces turning on hated citizens.

    6. The correct answer is evil white corporate billionaire.

    7. Imagine one day aliens will land in New York City, watch a Hollywood movie, hate it for poor script, and decide to sterilize the planet!

      Nah! We’ll just tell them that it was those other aliens.

  3. “It’s a bad idea to staunch speech because you’re afraid it will inspire terrorism. Note that this principle applies not just to Seth Rogen movies but to Senate reports on torture.”

    *Slow Clap*

  4. I have to say I’ve been taken aback by the reaction to all this. People avoiding offending teh moozlimz? I get it – cause they ACTUALLY ATTACK PEOPLE AND KILL AND INJURE THEM.

    The NORKs? They can’t even FEED themselves.

    I’m offering Sony to show this picture in my yard on a big screen – advertise the fuck out of it. Use my name, post my pic – everything. I’ll do it.

    Call me, Sony…

    1. I’m offering Sony to show this picture in my yard on a big screen – advertise the fuck out of it. Use my name, post my pic – everything. I’ll do it.

      You set up the Hibachi! I’ll start pickling the Kimchi.

      1. NO WAY! It’s good old ‘murcan burgers, steaks and dogs on a god-motherfuckin-damned WEBER GRILL. With Kingsford? charcoal.

        You bring the Mountain Dew, please (16.9 oz bottles, no cans).

        1. Puree some kimchee into a relish and put it on hot dogs – it’s the bomb.

          1. Good idea. I love kimchee. Ive mixed some giardiniera and hot cherry peppers in the food processer to make a relish for a steak sandwich which is pretty good.

    2. The NORKs? They can’t even FEED themselves.

      Have you seen Kim lately? He seems perfectly capable of feeding himself. He and his minions have the wealth of an entire nation – such as it is – at their disposal.

      1. You didn’t get the latest Western memo did you?

        Obesity is a symptom of malnutrition these days. More reason why EBT cards are accepted at drive-thrus everywhere.

        1. True, he does feed mostly on cheese. That can’t be healthy.

    3. I’m So ronery

  5. It’s a bad idea to staunch speech because you’re afraid it will inspire terrorism.

    Plus the effect would actually be the opposite (i.e. staunching speech is what inspires more terrorism). If terrorists know that they can get what they want through terrorism, they will use terrorism to get what they want.

    1. We used to all understand this. Logic is a dying art. I blame public schools.

  6. OT: AmSpec has an interesting interpretation of Michelle’s story about Target:

    http://www.americanthinker.com….._lens.html

    1. Here’s how Michele helps the little people, and feels good about it:

      ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’

      I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down. .. That was my interaction. I felt so good.

      It was so encouraging when Michele reported how good she felt after this noble, humanitarian act. Now she tells us that this little person was really a racist, which makes this act even more noble and unselfish. We really are not worthy of the Obamas.

  7. So if I did a Youtube video called lets say “The Conversation”, with basically the exact same plot, would it get taken down?

    1. I hope The President (PBUH) doesn’t throw you in jail for the inevitable riot and killings that ensue…

      We do have some history of this.

      1. Susan Rice is ready to hit the Sunday talk shows to explain why this character JB needs to be in prison.

        1. Soooooooo many reasons:) Too many “glitches” and too old for reprogramming.

      1. sweet:) What movie was that from?

        1. Tropic Thunder.

    2. The best would be someone making a low-budget version in their living room in the same style as the bit from This Is The End where they film their sequel to Pineapple Express.

  8. Jesse Walker is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.

    1. +1 Queen of Diamonds

    2. And smartest and best looking and best dancer.

  9. That Red Dawn decision was idiotic.

    What they really should have done was have the remake feature incredibly bad ass Chinese soldiers and tech taking down the US. And then do what the original did and make one of the occupiers a sympathetic and admirable character.

    Because then they would have done great China box office even with China as the villain. Much better than they actually did, in any event. If I was Chinese I would go to a movie where the Chinese Army kicked America’s ass on opening night.

    1. For what its worth, Rambo/Rocky movies were popular in USSR. Downside for the studios was though, they were ‘banned’, so really, not much money could be made through ticket sales and underground duplication services.

    2. The new “Red Dawn” sucked so bad I made it through about 20 mins.

      The old one is still money.

  10. They are going to release it online now. If we had a President who cared about free speech and didn’t go to bed at night envious of the North Koreans’ techniques of crowd and speech control, he would declare a national movie night where everyone in America got online and watched the movie as a way of showing America cannot be intimidated and to show that all pulling this stunt accomplished was take a movie that normally would have been seen by a few hundred thousand people and out of the theaters in a few weeks into a movie most of the country watched. He could invite the leaders of both parties in Congress over to the White House to watch the movie with the rest of the country.

  11. Note that this principle applies not just to Seth Rogen movies but to Senate reports on torture.

    Buuurn!

    Are people really buying the “terror” explanation? I’m assuming that Sony just has more skeletons in their closet that they really don’t want leaked out.

    1. I am pretty sure those skeletons are out. I think they were afraid there would be some kind of theater attack and they would get blamed.

      1. I thought it was mainly because the distributors dropped it due to fears that if they carried the movie, people would avoid the theaters completely during the holiday season.

        Shorter version: they think the American public are cowards.

        1. Shorter version: they think the American public are cowards.

          Have you seen how many people defend the DHS because it makes them feel safer about flying?

      2. I don’t think they were done releasing shit yet, I think they were giving them the Snowden treatment. But, I admit it’s pure speculation.

        Not sure how the theater attack threat relates to a decision not to release it on DVD/VOD either.

        Not that I care a whole lot either way, I really don’t. The US government didn’t capitulate to anything. If Sony wants to capitulate, that’s their business and might even be the right call from a shareholder point of view.

        1. That assumes that there was anything in those emails that was anymore embarrassing than what has already been released. The President of Sony is already toast. Even if they had an email from some exec talking about the need to make sure that not too many black people come to their films, it wouldn’t do anymore damage to Sony since that person would just be fired and Sony would say “we had no idea”.

          I seriously doubt there is anything else to release that caused them to do this. The issue was the fears of terrorism and the theaters’ refusal to show it as RG points out above.

        2. My grandfather would be astonished at the Japs being cowards were he still with us.

  12. I thought we didn’t give in to terrorist demands?

    1. We don’t give into made up terrorist demands. Demands made by real terrorists who will cut your head off, are always granted.

  13. But I won’t be surprised if it turns out that a couple of kids from 4chan did the whole thing.

    That was my first thought when I heard of the threat against the theaters.

    If any of our so-called “leaders” had any guts*, they would arrange for a theater near them to show the picture and make a point of going to the first showing.

    I very much doubt that North Korea has deep cover cadres in the US ready to make good on that threat.

    *I know, that is totally ludicrous.

    1. One of the better things Bush II ever did was to throw out the first pitch at the World Series after 911. The Secret Service didn’t want him to do it and there was a fair amount of pants wetting over it. Bush was dead right to do it and walk out in the open and be like “fuck it, I am not going to refuse to appear in front of crowds out of fear”.

      I can’t imagine Obama having the balls to do something like that or like what you suggest. He may consider himself “really good at killing people” but he sure as hell isn’t going to put his own scrawny ass at any risk.

      1. Well that, and he embarrassed himself so much when he did throw out a first pitch…

        1. Before Bush threw out that pitch, he warmed up in the Yankee batting cage beneath the stadium. Derek Jeter saw him warming up and said “you better throw a good pitch Mr. President because they will boo you if you don’t.”

          1. Sorry, I meant Obama embarrassed himself…

            1. I know what you meant. I just thought the Jeter story was funny. And the thought of the Yankee fans booing President Urkel really funny.

              1. I remember watching Bush walk out at YS and thought it might be the first and last time that a Repub president got a standing ovation there.

      2. If Bush REALLY had balls he’d have thrown the first pitch like Ryne Duren.

      3. What is all this “first pitch” bullshit, anyway? I guess it comes of the current tendency for our presidents to mimic Mussolini or Putin and show that they aren’t just the chief executive of the republic, they’re also badasses who succeed at every endeavor they turn their minds to. It’s not good enough for them to just wear a business suit and visit a warship, like FDR used to; you have to land your own fighter jet on the flight deck. It isn’t good enough just to throw out the first ball from the stands, the way every president from Taft to Reagan did; you have to suit up and stride out to the mound to remind us all how you used to be a pretty damn good ballplayer yourself, and in a way still are.

        1. Someone decided to send them out to the mound I guess.

    2. Much as the British royal family has become a parody of itself, the king’s decision to stay in London during the blitz was pretty cool.

    3. If any of our so-called “leaders” had any guts*, they would arrange for a theater near them to show the picture and make a point of going to the first showing.

      That would be the action of a real leader. Unfortunately, all we have are politicians.

    4. I can’t believe that 4chan has any love for the Norks.

  14. I am going to buy several copies of Team America and give them out as Christmas presents.

    Pearl Harbor sucked, and I miss you…

    1. “I promise you I will never die…”

  15. After trying to watch the ‘Green Hornet’,I never want to see a Seth Rogen movie again.He’s not funny. I’ve scrapped better crap of my shoes than that movie

    1. I just looked him up on IMDB and saw nothing remarkable in the slightest.

    2. He sucks. I have never understood his appeal. I thought Knocked Up was flat out unwatchable. He is nothing but a boring and douchey Chris Farley in every movie. Yeah, I get it, you are fat and your kind of stupid and lazy. Now why should I care?

      1. So he played Kim Jung Un?

    3. James Franco was on SNL a couple weeks ago and Rogen did some guest shots. They were amusing..as SNL skits go.

  16. The terrorists have won. And I don’t say that as the common meme. We have become a nation of cowards and I find it absolutely repulsive.

    Fucking pussies.

    1. Sony is not America. I don’t know a single person who was not ready to go see that movie out of spite had it been released. I think if it had been released it would have made a fortune as people went to see it just to tell the hackers or whoever funded them to fuck off.

      It is not the nation who are cowards. The nation is just fine. It is Sony and the people who own theaters and the people who are in the media who are cowards.

        1. This nation is absolutely chock full of pants wetting pussies!

          1. That is just self righteous horseshit. This country is full of people have more balls than you ever will have. They apparently just don’t run theaters and movie companies. There is nothing in the link that shows anything other than Sony and the Theater owners have no balls.

            1. “That is just self righteous horseshit. This country is full of people have more balls than you ever will have. They apparently just don’t run theaters and movie companies. There is nothing in the link that shows anything other than Sony and the Theater owners have no balls.”

              If you disagree that America has become a nation of cowards, I have a few popular Huffington Post articles about microaggressions I’d like to show you.

              1. Huffington post is not the nation. It is a collection of freaks venting on the internet. 99% of America has no fucking idea what the Huffington Post even is.

                The internet is not reality.

              1. This wouldn’t have happened in a country “full”, as you claim, of people with balls. If it was, Sony would have been ridiculed out of business.

            2. I think the police are a good indication that you can have balls AND be a pants-wetting moron at the same time.

    2. You need to give more hints about what’s behind your links. For example This is a link to goatse.

  17. My opinion from the get-go was that it was 4chaners (or others, but I just hate those fucking precious little 4chan snowflakes) hired by the Norks.

    1. If that is true, those little snowflakes are going to end up in Super Max for a very long time if the feds ever get a hold of them.

      The thing about this being 4channers is that unless they are in China or North Korea or somewhere totally out of reach of the feds, very few places indeed, they have signed their own death warrants here.

      I don’t think it was rogue hackers. This is too big and is going to bring too much heat for that to be the case. I think they were North Korean agents operating from the safety of North Korea. Even if they were from China, Sony holds a lot of sway in China. I would imagine they could bribe enough Chinese officials to get them turned over to the feds. Why the fuck would the Chinese care if they went to prison?

      1. I suspect that the hackers are either Russian or Iranian, possibly contracted by the NORKs but operating with considerable autonomy. The statements issued by the “Guardians of Peace” are a mixture of American vernacular and international English, and don’t have a Chinese or a NORKish sound to them.

        Curiously, their hashtag was originally #GOP, which suggests that the hackers were not overly familiar with American acronyms.

        1. That is probably an excellent guess. But they are operating from somewhere, (Iran, Russia, North Korea) where they knew there is no danger of the government handing them over to the feds if they are ever found out.

          This isn’t some nerd living in his mother’s suburban Chicago basement.

  18. Another possibility: The movie sucks. Sony arranged all this brouhaha and went through the charade of ‘withdrawing’ it so that it will benefit from the Streisand Effect and Sony can recover its costs.

    1. That would have also have wanted to fire their CEO. So for that to have happened, it would have had to have been a coup from the inside against the CEO. Possible, but doubtful.

      Though the movie no doubt sucks and would have been out of the theaters in a couple of weeks.

    2. When can I get my The Interview Banned in the US T-shirt and The Movie the Terrorist Didn;t Want You To See Book.

    3. The budget for the movie was $43 million. Even if it completely flopped it wouldn’t have affected Sony’s bottom line too much.

  19. Generally speaking, the more they promote a movie, the worse the movie is, and this movie was being promoted everywhere–and the previews were terrible. I haven’t seen such a shifty comedy so heavily promoted since Paulie Shore.

    The North Koreans may have done us a favor! If they could stop One Direction’s next release (or whatever shitty boy band comes next), I’ll be really impressed. With power like that, he might have been able to stop Firefly and Farscape from being cancelled.

  20. I’ve heard movie is being cancelled (probably) because now an insurance policy will pay its entire budget back, rather than releasing it, it being a flop, and Sony eating the cost.

    So much for artistic integrity.

    1. I have a hard time believing they can collect an insurance claim because they decided not to release a movie.

      Looked to me like the movie was going to be a flop anyway. Regardless, they can write off the production and promotional costs against their taxes.

      I’m kinda interested in what else the North Koreans have. Sony seems like they’re worried that what happened to that owner of the Clippers is going to happen to them.

      Nah, that could never happen! There couldn’t possibly be any racists in Hollywood.

      1. Ken,

        You can write an insurance policy for anything. It is possible that they have an insurance policy that covers acts of God or criminal acts. Occasionally current events make releasing a movie in such poor taste, it has to be shelved. This is what happened to the original Manchurian Candidate. It was supposed to be released for Christmas 1963 but wasn’t because of the Kennedy assassination. I could see a studio having such a policy to cover events like this, though I don’t know that there was such a thing in this case.

        1. You’d have to be an idiot to write a policy to cover movies that lets policy holders collect on movies they decide not to release.

          That’s like letting fire insurance policy holders collect for willfully deciding to burn down their own house.

          Did anyone collect any insurance on The Manchurian Candidate not being released?

          The correct answer is no, and that probably has something to do with the fact that the Manchurian Candidate was released on October 24, 1962.

          …but the Kennedy assassination happened on November 22, 1963–more than a year later.

          1. You’d have to be an idiot to write a policy to cover movies that lets policy holders collect on movies they decide not to release.
            \
            No you wouldn’t. You would just have to charge more based on the risk. If the insurance policy only paid the cost of the movie and never releasing it was the condition of collecting it, the payout is only the cost and collecting it means forgoing any profits the movie could have made.

            Forget acts of God, I would happily sell insurance policies to studios that promised in return for a fee to reimburse them for the cost of a movie that turned out so bad they couldn’t release it. That won’t happen very often since most movies are not obvious complete flops until after they are released.

            Ken people sell policies like this all of the time. That is basically what derivatives are. You run an amusement park that is only open during the summers and only gets good business on summers where it doesn’t rain too much, you can sell a derivative that will pay you if it rains a lot and you pay them if it doesn’t.

            All insurance is is betting. And you can bet on anything. And you can bet on anything properly if you know the odds and can price accordingly.

            1. “No you wouldn’t. You would just have to charge more based on the risk.”

              What risk?

              The studios pull films all the time! The risk of the studios pulling a film in any given year is probably close to 100%.

              http://news.moviefone.com/2014…..o-release/

              If insurance is betting, it’s the insurers who are fixing the odds.

              http://www.amazon.com/Against-…..0471295639

              1. The studios pull films all the time! The risk of the studios pulling a film in any given year is probably close to 100%.

                But the risk of a studio pulling an individual film is much less than that. How many films do the studios make a year and decide not to release and what percentage of the total number of films made in a year does the number that are never released represent?

                Answer me those two questions and I know the aggregate chance that an individual film will never be released. Lets say that is 5%. So you are making a film with a $40 million budget and want my insurance policy. Okay, I know that there is a 5% chance that any film made will never be released so my selling this policy creates a 5% chance of me being out of $40 million dollars. So if I charge you $2 million plus say a 10% profit for myself over and above the risk, I make money.

                This is how insurance works Ken. You just need a payout and a known risk to price it. The nature of the risk you are insuring against is irrelevant.

                1. You’re talking about taking a bet from a referee, whose calls the outcome of the game depend on.

                  There’s no need to explore it any further than that.

                  If anybody sells you fire insurance that pays–even if you intentionally set your own house on fire–then they’re probably not smart enough to tie their own shoes.

                  And yet this is what you’re proposing? This is the way Tony thinks the world works.

                  1. Ken,

                    You completely misunderstand this. When the studio doesn’t release the movie, it loses the ability to make a profit. It therefore, has an incentive not to do so. The policy only pays for the cost of the movie. If the movie is going to make money, those profits are lost due to not release. So there is no motivation to just not release lots of movies to collect on insurance policy.

                    Also, you put in the policy that there has to be a reason for the film not being released. Or you could as a condition of collecting on the policy give the insurance company the rights to the film, which if it were a profitable film, they could then sell.

                    The point is that the policy holder only gets its costs back if it collects on the policy. Movie studios don’t stay in business by breaking even. So all such a policy is insuring against, is the studio making a move that is so bad or releasing it in such bad taste that there is no chance of it being profitable such that it is willing to throw in the towel and not release it and just get the cost back. And that is a finite and predictable number of movies.

                    Ken, since you had to be a dick and throw in Tony, you have to be the densest person on here. You just are totally fucking incapable of doing any kind of subtle reasoning. I have never encountered someone as hard headed and unable to understand basic economic concepts like you are who wasn’t just a brain dead prog who refused to believe for political reasons.

                  2. And lastly Ken, you still owe me the premium. So if you pull the movie, you are still out your $2 million premium. No one is going to be buying insurance policies and canceling them for fun and profit.

                    You are just a dense as a bag of hammers sometimes.

  21. As I noted on the Twitterz last night when I was chatting with LUCY [/name drop], i hate Rogan and Franco and will see no movie with them in it. It’s even more repugnant when they’re BOTH in it.

    So – I absolutely was not going to see this.

    And now the NORKs have gone and made it forbidden fruit, so I haz a conflicted….I’ll watch it. FOR AMERICA! FUCK YEAH!

    1. I am with you. I hate these bastards with the fire of a thousand suns for making now obligated to see a fucking Seth Rogan movie.

    2. I liked him in 40-year-old Virgin, but then again, I liked 40-year-old Virgin and apparently my taste in comedy runs to the pedestrian around here compared to all the pretentious snoots.

      1. And don’t you forget that you philistine.

  22. Sony stock soars after movie is shelved
    By Aaron Smith @AaronSmithCNN December 18, 2014: 10:26 AM ET

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
    Sony’s stock is rebounding now that “The Interview” has been shelved.

    The Sony mega-hack prompted executives to pull “The Interview” from theaters before it even screened. While fans and celebrities panned the Sony decision as an act of cowardice, investors rejoiced.

    Sony (SNE) shares jumped 4% in early U.S. trading. In Japan, the stock — which is also traded on the Nikkei — closed the day 5% higher. Late Wednesday, the stock had already gained 3.4% in Wall Street trading.

    Earlier this week, the stock wasn’t looking so rosy. On Monday Sony fell 3%, after a 2% decline on Friday after the fallout from the hack loomed like a dark cloud over the company.

    1. Holy fuck, someone’s playing the long game to perfection here.

      *bows to Wall Street*

      1. Shorts covering.

  23. More OT: I made a comment on the A.M. links that a lot of libertarian opposition to AGW proponents stemmed from the proponents’ proposed political solution. And, stepping up to the plate is Mark Maslin:

    http://www.livescience.com/491…..ience.html

    FTA: Climate change is a massive pollution issue that shows the markets have failed and it requires governments to act collectively to regulate industry and business.

  24. Valerie `s posting is shocking… on saturday I bought a great new Jaguar XJ after I been earnin $6211 this last four weeks an would you believe 10k this past month . it’s by-far my favourite-work I’ve ever done . I started this eight months/ago and immediately startad bringin home over $71… per hour .
    am impresses but join this site and earn money easily.
    _________________ http://www.jobsfish.com

  25. I suppose militia members will be the new villains.

    And I really doubt it’s kids. Something like 100 terrabytes of data was stolen. Who has a 100 terrabyte hard drive?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.