I have a question.
Kim Jong-un is the leader of North Korea. He is the 46th most powerful person in the world according to Forbes 2013. He is the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army – one of the largest standing armies in the world at 5.9 million people. He leads a state with nuclear weapons capability and one that has threatened preemptive nuclear attacks against the United States in the past.
So with all of these things in mind is it wise of Canadian Seth Rogen to make a comedy movie called The Interview about two Americans visiting North Korea with the mission of killing him?
More importantly is it helpful in today’s global geopolitical climate to exercise your right as a free American comedic actor to create a movie that, by its nature, is an exercise in making money, about killing such a man?
I understand some people will read this as something of an apology for the state of North Korea and its leader but it is neither of these things. This is about how we move forward and seek reconciliation, diplomacy and change with, and in, such nation states and their leaders.
A movie such as this says that this is not possible. A movie such as this makes a diplomatic effort far more challenging than before if not impossible for a time.
Consider for a moment if North Korea made a comedic film about two North Korean spies coming to the United States under false pretenses to assassinate the President of the United States…portraying the assassination in grotesque detail.
Well one might say – big deal – we can take a joke.
Of course the scenarios are unequal…the United States is the most powerful country in the world and such efforts are generally ignored when they are made by a small country like North Korea.
But what if it were China that released such a film or Russia or England? The American response might be different. Such a film would be perceived as unhelpful propaganda. Such a film would be seen as an effort to portray the United States and American’s in a bad light to the film maker’s population. Such a film would no doubt cause the United States to question its relationship with said country and likely be seen as a big step backward.
I am not questioning Rogen’s right to make the film. I am simply questioning whether such a film is helpful and wise right now. Sometimes we get ourselves so emotionally riled up when we perceive we are being censored that we rush ahead with something before asking ourselves if its a good idea in the first place. The more we are told we should not do something the more likely we are to do it because “I have the right to do this dammit and nobody is going to stop me!”
Again I ask the questions – Is it wise? Is it helpful? Is it simply about making a buck? Does any of this matter in the end?
Imagine every nation as if they were one of 196 students in a small suburban high school. Who is North Korea? Who is the United States? How should one be acting toward the other? What happens to the student who is relegated to the sidelines (justly or not) and cast out or isolated from the rest? The one that is lampooned and made fun of because of what they say?
Maybe a couple of the more popular jocks or cheerleaders in the school get together and make a funny little art class movie about the kid and how two jocks go on a mission to become the kid’s friend but secretly the plan is to blow him up and portray it in a pretty realistic and gory way.
How does such a student respond and can they pose a risk to the rest of the student body?
These are important questions that need to be asked.
Personally I would much rather understand why North Korea is what it is than make fun of them. But hey – that’s just me.