Why “The Interview” is exactly what the world needs

Although insensitive on the surface, "The Interview" has made millions care about a foreign injustice


photo via Wikipedia under the Creative Commons License

Franco (left) and Rogen (right) play TV journalists assigned to assassinate Kim Jong-Un

Hannah Sutherland, Online Manager

I’m not a fan of James Franco. I’m not a fan of Seth Rogen. I’m not a fan of raunchy buddy-comedies. I’m not really even a fan of world news.


As most know, the recent Sony Pictures production, “The Interview” starring Franco and Rogen received world-wide attention in forms of backlash and support for its depiction of the two lead actors murdering Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean communist dictator. Not only did North Korea call the film “A most wanton act of terror and act of war,” but threatened an act of retaliation on the US similar in magnitude to the September 11 attacks; not to mention the hacking of Sony Pictures…


Sony Pictures Entertainment was hacked on November 24 of last year, in which the hackers (later discovered to be North Korean) leaked private employee information and unreleased movies, such as “Annie” (2014), onto the internet. Whether the hacking was directly linked to the North Korean regime is uncertain, especially since the North Korean government openly denied involvement.


Kim Jong-Un in "The Interview" was portrayed as a lover of American media
photo via The Hollywood Reporter under the Creative Commons License
Kim Jong-Un in “The Interview” was portrayed as a lover of American media












What enraged the American audiences for which this film was made was the fact that Sony Pictures, Franco, and Rogen made too much fun of a sensitive subject. According to Hawaii.edu,  an estimated 3.5 million civilians have been murdered by the North Korean regime since the beginning of Kim Il-sung’s regime in 1948. The Human Rights Watch confirms the fact that basic human rights, such as freedom of speech and expression, are relentlessly denied the Korean people, and many suffer executions, torture, inhuman treatment, political imprisonment, and extreme poverty at the whim of the government.


Arguments in favor of the film have stated that Kim Jong-Un and the entire North Korean faction are being much too sensitive and taking measures far too extreme to “punish” this supposed crime. And, supporters have pointed to the basic human right of freedom of speech as justification for the American filmmakers’ seemingly careless artistic expression; oddly enough, while millions of North Koreans can only hope and dream for this right.


Despite the widespread negative responses, and nearly being scrapped entirely, “The Interview” was released in theaters and made available for purchase on YouTube and iTunes, with heavy lobbying in favor of its release from Franco, Rogen, and several members of the Hollywood community. Seth Rogen himself tweeted, “The people have spoken! Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn’t give up! The Interview will be shown at theaters willing to play it on Xmas day!” in support of releasing the film despite the threats.


Is this film relatively insensitive to the evil occurring in North Korea? Sure. On the other hand, can it be considered a crown-jewel in the name of free speech? Of course it can. Look past all the mixed views, and it can be clearly seen that this film serves a far greater purpose in the grand scheme of things.


Seth Rogen providing comic relief in spite of the backlash for "The Interview"
screenshot via Today.com under the Creative Commons License
Both Seth Rogen and James Franco lobbied heavily in favor of the release of their film









For all intents and purposes, this film has made me, a high school student in California, care. Considering the fact that I knew next to nothing about North Korea three months ago, I’d say this film has done well to get me interested and invested in learning just what North Korea is up to. If my interests were engaged just as an effect of the buzz surrounding this film, then there are, without a doubt, millions of others not just in the US who have been engaged as well. What this film has accomplished is it has shed light on North Korea’s evil and exposed its regime for what it really is.


Last time I checked, no injustice in American history, or word history has been overturned by the silence of the masses. The American Revolution and the abolition of apartheid are both examples of events that began as a result of people taking a stand, having a voice, and taking action.


In North Korea, foreign movies, music, books and TV shows are heavily banned from ownership by its citizens. Possession of such paraphernalia can result in arrest by the government, where prisoners and their families are subject to beatings, torture, and executions. But, recent studies have shown that more and more North Koreans who have managed to smuggle outside media into the country are far more likely to leave the country, or defect from the government. Movies, TV shows, and music from South Korea are smuggled into the North in the form of thumb drives and sold on the black market. North Koreans who face severe poverty or oppression are risking their lives for the sake of freedom. Maybe this movie was exactly what, not only North Korea, but all the world needed.


Released pictures of North Korean markets show signs of prosperity and plenty, while the remainder of the nation suffers from extreme poverty
photo via Wikipedia under the Creative Commons License
Released pictures of North Korean markets show signs of prosperity and plenty, while the remainder of the nation suffers from extreme poverty














And if I’ve learned anything from “The Hunger Games,” it’s that a small spark can ignite the flames of revolution. Well, North Korea is as close to Panem as this world will ever see. The elite class of North Korea live in its capital city, Pyongyang, while the majority of its citizens live in squalor. But, the state-sponsored North Korean news media outlets will never show the outside world the poverty-stricken side of the country, and the government works tirelessly to convince the people how great the government is, and how divine their leader, Kim Jong-Un is.


Love it or hate it, this film is indubitably the spark that will grow into a flame. Years from now, the overthrow of communism in North Korea could be traced back to “The Interview.” It is talk and awareness that exposes these regimes for what they are: evil and ruthless. And eventually, talk and awareness can lead to action and change. The hoopla “The Interview” created around the world may be short lived or seemingly forgotten, but whether it can actually catalyze a major overhaul of the North Korean government is a question that has yet to be answered.

View this story on the Best of SNO website

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