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.