Controversy has followed the upcoming James Franco-Seth Rogen comedy, “The Interview,” since the project was first announced. The latest dustup it finds itself in goes well beyond the typical Hollywood tabloid fodder. Over Thanksgiving weekend, rumor started swirling that the cyber-attack that Sony had been a target of was perpetrated by North Korean hackers unhappy about the film’s premise. The comedy is about a successful TV interview show (produced by the Rogen character, and hosted by the Franco character) that’s been invited to do a one-on-one with Kim Jong Un. The CIA soon comes knocking, asking the two to use the opportunity to assassinate the North Korean dictator.
The North Korean government has made its displeasure on the film known and has threatened to retaliate. "Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated," an unnamed spokesperson for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs apparently said.
Is “The Interview” politically problematic? What kind of reaction would there be if another country was to make a film premised on an attempted assassination on another world leader? Can the film be considered a political satire which lessens its offense?
“The Interview” is scheduled to drop on Christmas day.
Hye Seung Chung, Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies, specializing in race and ethnicity in American pop culture, at Colorado State University. She is the author of “Hollywood Asian: Philip Ahn and the Politics of Cross-Ethnic Performance” (Temple University Press, 2006) and Kim Ki-duk (University of Illinois Press, 2012)