YouTube and other online services will carry The Interview, beginning on Thursday.
As first reported by CNN’s Brian Stelter and later confirmed by Sony, viewers are able to rent or buy the film from YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and via SeeTheInterview.com. (The cost is $5.99 to rent, and $14.99 to purchase).
North Korea was able to bully Sony Entertainment and the movie theaters into censoring one of their comedy movies, The Interview. What got North Korea upset was the fact that this movie – a comedy mind you – is about the assassination of their “dear leader,” Kim Jong Um.
Over the last few days a lot of people have voiced their opinion on Sony and the steps they took, but one voice in particular stands out from all the rest. That of Dr. Evil.
As I said before, it really doesn’t feel like the holidays, and with the events of the past week I would guess that others are wondering where the spirit went. Or when it’s really going to arrive.
The Sony hacking is certainly a wake-up call for anyone who doubts the severity of our online, privacy-free, abc123 password-protected culture. That a foreign government, and one that we consider to be a running joke, could inflict such pain on us and our free time is disturbing and frightening. Sony employees are rightfully feeling exposed, not to mention that, evidently, Hollywood backstabbing culture is still alive and well as evidenced by the hacked e-mails from company executives.
Honestly, though; did the creators of The Interview really have to use actual names? One of the first rules of comedy, or at least the ones I learned, was that funny comes from imagination and suggestion, rather than always bashing someone on the head with facts. I’m not in favor of naming any world leader and then killing them on film unless that’s what actually happened to them. It would have been more funny if the film’s creators had made up a country and a leader, given him the same hairdo, so that, yes, even American audiences would have recognized who the character was supposed to be, and done the film that way. Killing a real name? Bad form, no matter who it is.
President Obama has promised a proportional response, but I’m not sure what that means in this context. A proportional cultural action is not really possible given North Korea’s film industry, which seems to consist of one person with a camera following Kim Jong-un around all day. We could also hack into their e-mail and read more messages that promise a fiery death to America. That’s comedy.
And while we’re speaking of hermit countries who whine over Olympic sanctions, President Obama’s Cuba gambit is everything that absolutely drives the Republicans nuts about the man. Just when they think they have him humbled by the terrible results of last month’s congressional elections, the president comes out and reminds everyone that the executive is an equal branch to the others and has certain powers at its disposal. And make no mistake about his announcement; this is a big deal that will reshape the hemisphere in the short term and the world in the long term.
Raul Castro can say all he wants about how Cuba is going to stay a Communist country. In 10 years he might be gone and Cuba will have a capitalist economy and, I’m thinking, democratic reform. Yes, I know that many pundits are saying that Cuba will be like China or Vietnam — one party states that allow their people to get wealthy while repressing them politically.
I’m, guessing otherwise. My sense is that proximity to the United States will work in freedom’s favor by blunting foreign adventurers who want to gain some favor on the island. Vladimir Putin might want to play the history card, but we will never stand for that. And it’s likely that we will do all we can to blunt China’s influence too. In fact, our main competitors in Cuba will be other Latin American countries who already see a compatriot waking up and wanting to join the region’s economic system. No, Cuba will be different. There will be growing pains, but it will be different.
Back in Congress, Obama had masterfully put the Republicans back in their Cold War box. By opposing his opening to Cuba, he’s reinforced the idea that the right has no new ideas on what to do about the island and would continue the embargo for another 50 years if they could find a way to win a presidential election during that time. Senator Marco Rubio’s fiery response is exactly the wrong message at a time when economic and cultural engagement are what’s needed.
Besides, it wasn’t that long ago when the right wing was lauding Vladimir Putin and his shirtless foreign policy that seemed to compare favorably with Obama’s more composed, measured approach. That’s what always backing the hare in a marathon will get you. Putin is lording over an economy that is tanking, while the United States has seen steady growth for the past six years, and now with an added bonus of rising wages. Gas prices are sharply down. The XL pipeline might become superfluous if they go any lower. The US is a major contributor to a landmark climate agreement. Things can turn around quickly in this world.
Gee, maybe it’s feeling holidayish after all.
In an interview on CNN’s State of The Union, President Obama reiterated that Sony “made a mistake” when they decided to bow to North Korea’s threats and canceled the showing of the movie, The Interview. But the president also said that he understood Sony’s decision as a company, but wished they had talked to him first before pulling the plug on the movie.
“I was pretty sympathetic to the fact that they have business considerations that they got to make,” the president said. “Had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what the story was.”
Mr. Obama continued saying that Sony’s decision set a dangerous precedent, one that cannot be adhere to.
“If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company’s distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that’s a problem,” Obama said.
“And it’s a problem not just for the entertainment industry, it’s a problem for the news industry,” he said. “CNN has done critical stories about North Korea. What happens if in fact there is a breach in CNN’s cyberspace? Are we going to suddenly say, are we not going to report on North Korea?
“So the key here is not to suggest that Sony was a bad actor. It’s making a broader point that all of us have to adapt to the possibility of cyber attacks, we have to do a lot more to guard against them.”
Michael Lynton, the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment, went on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria to set the record straight, saying that Sony did not cave in their decision to cancel showings of the movie, The Interview – a satirical movie that shows the assassination of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Lynton instead said that Sony had no other choice after movie theaters decided not to show the film.
“The movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short time – we were very surprised by it – they announced that they would not carry the movie. At that point in time, we had no alternative to not proceed with a theatrical release on the 25th of December….”
That being said, Lynton affirmed that America and the world will get to see the movie. “We have not caved,” he said. “We have not given in. We have persevered and we have not backed down. We have always had every desire to have the America public see this movie.”
At his final news conference for the rest of the year, President Obama stated that Sony made a mistake when they succumbed to terrorist threats and canceled showing the movie.
“Yes, I think they made a mistake,” Obama said. “We cannot have a society in which a dictator in some place can start imposing censorship in the United States.”
He continued, “Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers and distributors and others start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend…somebody’s sensibilities who probably need to be offended.
“So that’s not who we are. That’s not what America is about,” Obama said.
The movie was scheduled for release on December 25th, but was canceled by Sony after North Korean hackers threatened to cause attacks similar to those of September 11th.
George Clooney, like most Americans, are upset that North Korea and their leader Kim Jong Un, are dictating what Americans can and cannot see, and in an interview with Deadline, Clooney made his feelings known.
“We should be in the position right now of going on offense with this. Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie.”
The movie Clooney is referring to of course, is “The Interview,” a comedy about the assassination of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un. Because of “September 11th type” threats against movie theaters – threats that are now linked to North Korea – Sony has decided to cancel the movie’s distribution. Clooney and many more Americans are joining the chorus for something to done about this situation.
Clooney added: “That’s the most important part. We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong Un, of all f***ing people.”