Seeing a movie is always a wonderful way for many families to spend Christmas Eve. And this year many gathered in front of a television set to watch The Interview streamed on the web.
The Interview has been the source of enormous controversy in recent weeks. The plot of this silly comedy is centered on an attempt to assassinate North Korea's dictatorial and maniacal leader, Kim Jong Un. Its stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco, who play show producer Aaron Rapoport and talk show host Dave Skylark, land an interview with Un because the leader is a big fan of their show.
The morning after host Skylark announced he had secured a worldwide exclusive interview with Un, the CIA came knocking at his door. "We want you to take him out," the beautiful woman agent tells Skylark and producer Rapoport, who were recovering from an all-night orgy. This may have been the sanest and funniest moment of this otherwise idiotic movie.
To describe The Interview as sophomoric would be a compliment for this film that is replete with sex, references to masturbation, penises, and offensive language. In fact, the foul language is so overused that George Carlin must be rolling over in his grave.
Yet the movie has been caught up in an unprecedented global controversy involving hacking, censorship and threats against theaters slated to show the film.
At first, embarrassing emails were released by a group claiming to be the "Guardians of Peace" involving Sony executives and several key Hollywood figures. Several news publications and television programs published the painfully candid and snarky emails, which then became front page fodder for tabloids around the world. The media was then attacked for releasing confidential communications, all to no avail.
As The Interview's release date approached, theaters received retaliatory threats. In response, major theater chains cancelled their showings and Sony dropped its plans for a Christmas Day release. This decision brought on cries of censorship.
President Barack Obama said Sony's move was a mistake. American intelligence concluded that the North Koreans had been centrally involved in the Sony hacking and threats. Under enormous pressure, Sony reversed itself and arranged to release the movie on Christmas Eve in 331 independently owned theaters and online.
Viewership for The Interview has been strong, giving Sony an unexpected Christmas present. But the studio will likely lose $20 million in revenue this holiday weekend according to some estimates.
This all seems like a bizarrely outlandish Hollywood movie plot, but it is not. It is most unfortunate that the principle of artistic freedom is being debated over such a bad movie. Because of its alleged actions, North Korea has created enormous interest in a film that, otherwise, may have quickly turned into a DVD/Blue Ray release.
Thank you North Korea, and bah humbug Kim Jong Un.