SONY, THE HACKERS, AND THE MOVIE

Now that people can see The Interview — which I think everyone agrees is a good thing, since retreating in the face of threats is never admirable — we can finally hear what the public thinks of the actual movie rather than the surrounding scandal. There is one aspect of this situation that hasn’t gotten enough attention, in my opinion, and that is the subject matter of the film. Assassination. This is a comedy about assassination.

I heard only one mention of this when Fareed Zakaria interviewed Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony, and asked if the film should ever have been green-lighted given the subject matter. Mr. Lynton answered by saying they thought it was a “funny comedy,” that it fell into the category of “political satire,” but he said that was not fundamentally the point…

I think it is an important point. I don’t believe assassination is a funny topic, even if you’re talking about assassinating a brutal despot. Killing is killing — where is the humor in that? How is that political satire? I am someone whose life was deeply, personally affected by an assassination attempt. On a chilly March day John Hinckley waited for my father and when he emerged from the hotel, mowed down three other people to get a clear shot at his intended victim. Four men were hit that day. None died but everyone’s life was changed. My father was minutes away from dying when the surgeons finally found the bullet just millimeters from his heart. So I don’t see assassination as comedic material. And even though I am obviously not unbiased on this subject, I am able to take a step back,  look at it objectively, and ask, Is this really who we want to be — a nation that laughs at killing?

There are boundary lines in everything, including comedy. Some things are simply not funny. Rape, incest, torture, racism, domestic violence,  murder…not funny. We are blessed in this country to have freedom of speech. But with that freedom comes responsibility. Powerful statements are made with art, be it film, theater, painting, or any other avenue of artistic expression. Powerful statements are also made by acknowledging that certain boundary lines shouldn’t be crossed. Making fun of assassination is one of those lines.

My hope, now that the movie is available for viewing, is that the majority of people say, This is not who we want to be as a country. This world is too often a violent place. That needs to be taken seriously, not laughed at.

3 Responses to SONY, THE HACKERS, AND THE MOVIE

  1. dan black says:

    Amen. Well written.

  2. Peter Bannon says:

    Patti, you nailed it. This is a “comedy?” about “assassination?” It is not funny and only a dimwitted executive would think it a funny or appropriate topic.

    In fact there is only one reasonable business explanation for green lighting this project … creating the ” scandal” and notoriety as publicity. That’s it. Shamelessly, but culpable for any collateral damage.

    Quite possible with the subject “target” of this fart joke, drunk bender idiot bro movie. Haven’t seen it and don’t intend to but I know from what I hear from the people who have been driven to rent this piece of crap.

    This is probably the lowest the pit bottom movie industry has gone

  3. Ben Mattlin says:

    Well written, Patti. You’re right, of course, but I can’t help thinking of the many other movies that have made light of killing … either for comedy or action fantasy … some of which starred your father, frankly. The entertainment value of pretend violence is well established in our culture, going back to Shakespeare and earlier. Sad but true.

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