Pop-Ed: The Interview’s Cancellation

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Pop-Break.com’s staff reacts to the cancellation of The Interview’s theatrical run.

Bill Bodkin: Who figured that a James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy that would undoubtedly feature 10,000 dick jokes and absolutely silly action sequences would become one of the most controversial and possibly one of the most game-changing films of all-time.

Sony and the major theater chains made the right move by pulling The Interview. Why? It’s a business move, but most importantly (but possibly not their motive) a moral one. Imagine if these threats that were made by the Guardians of Peace came to fruition and people died? That would undoubtedly sink the theater chain and probably Sony. Morally, and most importantly someone would’ve have died because of this movie. Seriously, think about that. A life would be lost because of a James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy. That’s unacceptable.

However, devil’s advocate – Sony and these chains gave into what could’ve been a hollow threat coming from a completely harmless source. Now, there’s tons of rumors of who’s behind it – but think about it, art (yes, it is in the eye of the beholder) has been sacrificed because of a threat. But now, Pandora’s box has been opened and who the hell knows how this could impact movies from now on?

But, for those screaming “the terrorists won!” I’ll disagree. These people forced Sony, a Japanese company, that was releasing The Interview (a film starring a Canadian) to the entire world, to make a business decision. Remember the United States government didn’t ban this movie or (as much as we know) force Sony or any of these movie chains to pull this film. This was a multinational company, which is currently in shambles, making a business move.

The way this could’ve been avoided – change the villain from Kim Jon Un to someone else. But then you get into the whole “compromising your art” argument and we can talk about that all damn day.

Daniel Cohen:  I don’t think we’re fully grasping the validity of what happened on December 17th, 2014. A major motion picture was pulled from its release because of terrorist threats. Some people might look at this and say, “Whatever, it’s just some stupid fart comedy. There are more important things going on in the world than movies. Nobody cares about this crap!” Really? This isn’t important? A freedom has been taken away from us. The freedom to see a movie. The freedom to express art, even if it was from two comedic talents I don’t particularly care for. It’s their right, or so I thought. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. I’m angry. Do I understand why this movie was pulled? Of course I do.  It’s hard for me to argue against playing it safe and protecting human life.  It’s a tough argument for anyone to make.  But the other side of this has a cost too, and one that is not pleasant to think about.

What can of worms has Sony Pictures just opened?  Why is it not a logical conclusion to now think the following could happen: A crazy religious group doesn’t like how Moses and the story of Exodus is being portrayed in Ridley Scott’s latest movie.  They threaten violence.  They threaten to hurt people who see the film.  It gets pulled.  You can say I’m being crazy, you can say I’m being irrational, but why has this not opened the door for situations like this?  I’m obviously not saying movies and art is more important than human life, but it frustrates me that a freedom like movies, something that is very important to me, has now been restricted in the last twenty-four hours.

I can definitely foresee a scenario where this all blows over.  Maybe it was just recent events of Sony being hacked, and the fact that this movie stemmed controversy and threats from the very beginning, and this will merely be an isolated incident.  I also understand that our government didn’t pull this movie, it was a studio.  I’m not saying what Sony did was the wrong call.  I get it.  Again, it’s a tough decision for anyone to make.  But it goes back to this — no matter how you slice it, no matter how you debate it, the freedom to see Seth Rogen and James Franco in The Interview was taken away from us.  Is it a particular freedom I cared about seeing?  No – but it’s a freedom nonetheless.

Al Mannarino:  After seeing This Is The End last year I couldn’t wait for Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s follow up to their hilarious meta comedy. Since it was announced, The Interview has been on my list of most anticipated films on the year. Set to be released on a already crowded Christmas Day, it was just another reason I was excited for the holiday.

Unfortunately no one will be seeing The Interview for the foreseeable future due to recent threats made by a group of hackers known, as the “Guardians of Peace.” (How much of a contradiction is a group with the word peace in its name making threats comparable to 9/11?) The Internet was not thrilled about Sony decision on pulling the film from theaters. Many believe this is letting the terrorists “win.”

I don’t think Sony could have made a good call either way. If they let the film stay in theaters then there is chance that these terrorists could have actually went through with their plans and innocent people could have been hurt. By shelving the film, Sony has given these people what they want and has desecrated on the first amendment. With their recent hacks, and this fiasco, the future doesn’t look so great for Sony.

DJ Chapman:  Well, that was quick: turns out I will not have the opportunity to see Seth Rogen and James Franco assassinate Kim Jong Un.

When I first heard the news about The Interview’s cancellation, it felt like, “No the terrorists won,” or “That’s not what America does.” Thinking about it more, I think the hackers who made these threats did Sony a favor.  Why?  This movie was going to be terrible.

I’m not convinced that Sony is not showing The Interview because of the hacker threats. Sony may just be trying to save itself from another embarrassing movie to join the ranks of When The Game Stands Tall, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Think Like a Man Too. As a company, Sony always seems to be on the precipice of, “Are we going to make it?!?” Sony should be thankful every day that the PS3 was a success and they were able to shove Blu-ray down our throats.

The pulling of The Interview is a far deviation from what we normally see. Usually the narrative is, “We will not succumb to terrorism.” Unfortunately, pulling a movie because of hacker threats is being a victim of terrorism, even if the terrorism is over something that is trite. Fear not: the movie will eventually be released: either stealthily on a random day or it gets downloaded to your PS4 automatically for free a la U2’s Songs of Innocence onto your iTunes.  My reaction to the cancellation is “meh.” Yes, terrorism sucks, and – yes – it is unfortunate that a lot of movie theaters had to bow out and refuse to show The Interview. Nevertheless, if the end result of this is that I do not get to see a bad movie that I would not have seen anyway, then so be it.

Luke Kalamar:  Man, what a tough break for everyone involved with The Interview. All that work, all that time, all that money ($44 million), down the drain. To be honest, the bare premise isn’t terrible at all. TV personalities having to kill a dictator? That can actually be comedy gold. It reminds me of Spies Like Us but with a twist. Yet making that dictator Kim Jong-Un is supposedly the film’s undoing. The Guardians of Peace, which US officials reportedly confirmed is North Korea, have succeeded in getting the movie pulled, along with ruining the professional and personal lives of a lot of people. It’s hard to believe this is all because of one movie but that appears to be the case.

I’m very, very torn on my feelings about this. I agree with Sony and other theaters erring on the side of caution. If this movie came out and violent assaults somehow did happen, even though the premiere went by without a hitch despite violent promises during then as well, it would be a tragedy. “We knew about it, why didn’t we do anything?!” everyone would say. But the precedent this sets is awful. It’s something that I, as a lover of entertainment, don’t want to ever see. Now people have to watch what they put on a screen? We have to be afraid of retaliation? We have to Nerf our words or else insane dictators will kill us? That’s insane. That’s the end of entertainment. It goes against our basic human principles that have been around since the dawn of civilization.

I highly doubt that The Interview is gone forever. Somehow, someway, this completed movie will find its way to consumers. Will it be direct-to-DVD? Will Sony release it online? Does someone have their own copy as a bootleg? Who knows. But this movie will come back.

As an aside, this makes me appreciate Team America: World Police that much more. Remember when Matt Stone and Trey Parker successfully presented Kim Jong-Il as a cockroach that flies off to space? Good times.

Lauren Stern: Scouring social feeds this evening, it’s clear that many are outraged about the news that Sony Pictures Entertainment pulled The Interview. The truth is, they have every right to be. The cancellation is a clear violation of artistic freedom and it’s disappointing that already production of other films has been halted  because of the controversy.

At the same time, I understand why they made the call they did. If the threats were actually legitimate and people died, Sony would be essentially responsible for compromising the safety of the American people. The privacy breach of employees is more than enough for the company to handle right now.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a shitty situation for everyone, but it’s totally one that could have been avoided. If a fictional villain was created instead of Kim Jon Un, James Franco and Seth Rogen fans would be the only ones to give this movie the time of the day.

Matt Kelly: I probably wasn’t going to see The Interview in theaters. It’s getting pretty bad reviews and the trailers didn’t look all that special. Forget the movie. Lets talk about real North Korea for a second. North Korea is the worst. The. WORST. Earlier this year, the UN released a report that likened the conditions in North Korea to the Holocaust. Here is a quote from the report. “If they are not executed immediately, persons held accountable for major political wrongs are forcibly disappeared to political prison camps that officially do not exist. Most victims are incarcerated for life, without chance of leaving the camps alive.” And the UN isn’t doing anything about it because North Korea is really good friends with China and China is on the Security Council.

So forget about the Dennis Rodman North Korea or the Team America North Korea or even the The Interview North Korea. Real North Korea is the worst. I have no qualms with Sony not releasing the movie. I don’t think “The terrorists win” or any of that noise. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I hope this doesn’t turn into World War III or anything like that either. I am two months away from no longer being eligible for the draft and I don’t care about Seth Rogen movies that much.

Scott Clifford:  I always wondered how this film got green lit by Sony executives in the first place. Making a film about the assassination of a living world leader is considered to be tasteless by many people no matter how despicable the person may be. Sure, Team America: World Police got made but the look of the film was completely unrealistic due to using puppets instead of live actors. The act of showing Kim Jung-Il being assassinated in gory detail while he is alive is a bold (or tasteless) step that even Charlie Chaplin couldn’t do when parodying Hitler.

That being said, Sony and the big movie theater chains crossed that bridge a long time ago and spent a lot of money and time advertising the film. Canceling the release of the film now sets a terrible precedent for the freedom of the arts in the U.S. along with the rest of the world. The film industry is already struggling due to creative stagnation and this act will make the problem more worse than it already is. Maybe I’m being too nonchalant about the threats of violence the hackers have made towards the public but I feel that Sony and the big movie theater chains have made a terrible mistake.

Logan J. Fowler: When the news of The Interview being cancelled hit news feeds everywhere today. I was kind of taken aback. As we have seen by the Sony hack, not one bit of information from the movie company was left alone, but the upcoming film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco seemed to be the bulls eye of the break in.Since the film has the comedic duo planning to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, it obviously adds some shock value, considering it is not based on true events or even using a substitute person to “get rid of.” When it was learned that the country of North Korea itself was behind the hack and that terrorist threats against America were made based on the film in question, the movie was dropped from major theater chains, left to find its own way. And this is what really shocks me.I know that this hilarity fused assassination plot may seem poor in taste to some, but ultimately our country has a freedom of speech that can be showcased in its films or other forms of media; that idea was utilized for The Interview. The movie getting pulled from cinemas demonstrates that despite our rights as Americans, we still fear the unknown and are scared to even be free in what we produce as artists. Who knows what major effect this will have on future events when it comes to cinematic creations? It is a scary thought for those wishing to push the envelope in interesting and original ways.

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Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.