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Boffo? Not Bashar

The next movie censor? Probably not

Let’s say you’ve considered the idea that Sony Pictures cooked up the controversy over the movie The Interview. Perhaps you’ve had thoughts like this:

• The controversial leaked internal emails were phony—contrived nastiness. Were people’s reputations harmed? Of course not. Our Zeitgeist does not include shame. I can practically see the players involved tee-hee-hee’ing about it. Was George Clooney in on the joke, or was his well-publicized rant—“We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all fucking people”—a publicity bonus?

• The leaked personal data were obviously bogus: fake people with fake Social Security numbers, fake addresses and fake telephone numbers. The data probably included fake astrological signs.

• North Korea was an obvious dupe for the role of apocalyptic cyberterrorists, even though there are doubts that nation had anything to do with the hacking. Our government was glad to play along and further demonize North Korea, if indeed such a thing were possible, and it gave the president the chance to puff up his chest and defend the rights of Americans to see movies with the artistic value of pudding.

Countless Americans claim they’re going to see the movie out of patriotic duty. Something tells me their patriotism is nothing more than watercolor streaks of red, white and blue. Something tells me their patriotism hasn’t been nearly as visible while the Obama Administration has been gutting the Fourth Amendment, trying to jail journalists (see: James Risen), hassling others (see: Glenn Greenwald) for whom the First Amendment is much more than a moviemaker’s publicity tool.

Millions of people fell for Sony Pictures’ ruse—including Hollywood luminaries, politicians, bloggers, and the national and international press. They expressed outrage—outrage!—that the North Koreans were threatening Americans over what we could or could not express, could or could not view, and could or could not—here’s the key word—sell. Kim Jong-un was no match for Mammon, as proved by the release of the movie after it was initially pulled. The threats of terror? Well, America stands up against terrorists, dammit—at least after dithering about it for a week. Never mind that Trevor Timm, a columnist for The Guardian, recently called the hackers “sadistic pranksters, extortionists and assholes.” Clearly, the hackers were a national security threat, Timm be damned. They engaged in an act of war. Send the women and kids to fallout shelters, or to the nearest Hell Plaza Octoplex for the afternoon showing.

The logical sequel to all of this will be copycat movies that try to garner a greater level of notoriety. It’s too bad North Korea has already had its star turn as a villain. And we blew up their Internet. That’ll teach ’em. They won’t mess with us again.

But now it’s going to be tough to come up with somebody equally scorned yet feared (at least a little bit). Putin’s ratings are way down; even Sarah Palin has deserted him. Hugo Chavez is dead. Bin Laden is dead. So is Saddam. Who’s left?

Alas, it looks as if the moviemakers’ search for a new threat to freedom of speech will lead them to the doorstep of Bashar al-Assad. It probably won’t fly, though. Nobody’s going to risk millions of dollars making a film that might offend someone whom millions of moviegoers have never heard of. Bashar would not be boffo box office. That’s too bad: It’s a waste of an evil-sounding name and a Hitleresque mustache. Besides, al-Assad is dealing with problems bigger than movies.

Even worse, he simply might not care.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 26th, 2014 03:18 pm (UTC)
What the hell is going on behind the Wizard's curtain? Does it get any scarier than this?
Dec. 26th, 2014 05:04 pm (UTC)
Only if we don't start doing a better job keeping our eyes on the ball.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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