Whether you find Seth Rogen endearing and hilarious or you think he’s a stoner doofus, understand that that man has achieved all of my wildest dreams. He started working as a TV scriptwriter when he was 17 years old, the raunchy comedy he and his best friend wrote in high school actually got made, he’s wealthy, his wife is gorgeous, and to top it all off his movieThe Interview has egregiously offended Kim Jong Un. If nothing else, that should at least make you second guess some of the things D.A.R.E. told you about the life-ruining effects of marijuana.
I’ve wanted to offend Kim Jong Un for as long as he’s been in charge – and before that I wanted to offend his pouty, tracksuit-clad daddy. You see, every visitor to North Korea is required to go pay their respects to twogigantic statues of Kim Jong Il and his father, and government minders insist that every photographer include the entire statue in every picture they take. Every North Korean citizen is issued pictures of the Kims to hang in their homes, as well as special cleaning cloths for them. It’s against the law to deface in any way an image of one of the Kim family, to the point that citizens must fold bank notes in a specific way so as not to crease the leaders’ faces. Entire generations of North Korean families have been sent to gulags because one member threw away a newspaper with one of the leaders’ pictures in it – proper procedure is to carefully clip the leaders’ images out of the newspapers and return them to the government before throwing the paper away.
To me, knowing that Kim Jong Un is willing to inflict innumerable horrors on his people to make sure nobody says or does anything remotely critical of him is pretty much an open invitation to say as many nasty things about him as possible just to try and even the score a little bit.
For instance, it might interest you to know that not only is North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un extremely grotesquely overweight, but he’s also incapable of sustaining an erection unless he’s wearing a pink My Little Pony costume. What’s more, his body odor and flatulence is widely regarded to be some of the most potent in Northeast Asia. In fact, the CIA has credible evidence that Kim Jong Un has eaten an entire bowl of wax fruit on four separate occasions because he’s so cripplingly stupid. Here's a picture of him in drag:
The government of North Korea goes to great lengths to make sure nobody says stuff like that, but fortunately there’s an ocean between me and them and they have a hard enough time building a missile that doesn’t explode on the launch pad, let alone make it all the way over here. They’ve got a huge army of stunted, malnourished soldiers using rusting Soviet era equipment that they don’t have enough fuel to run. The sad fact is that the only people who really need to be scared of North Korea are North Koreans.
So I was pretty much apoplectic last week when Sony capitulated to the people who have no capacity to harm us. And I’m still pissed at Paramount for refusing to redistribute a movie they released a decade agobecause they were scared the Kims would remember it existed. Hollywoodinvented the phrase “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” for fuck’s sake, and it was a bitter pill to see them hand a huge win to the worst human rights abusers in the world because they released some emails and said “9/11.”
Now, had I finished and posted this update late last week as I’d originally intended, I could’ve spent the next 400 words taking Sony to task for not releasing the movie. Instead, I woke up this morning to read that Sony now plans a limited Christmas Day release of the movie. That’s bad news for me, because now I can’t claim that my blog convinced them to change their minds. But it’s pretty good news for freedom of speech, and in the long run it may be one of the only things we in America can do to help North Koreans.
You need only watch the movie Argo to see that Hollywood has an inflated sense of its importance in world affairs – it was Canadian diplomats who did most of the work of helping the Americans escape Iran, but the story was rewritten to cast Hollywood movers and shakers as major heroes, which is convenient seeing as Hollywood movers and shakers decide which movies win what awards. But if there’s one international crisis that Hollywood’s glitz and glamor actually can fix, it’s North Korea.
North Korea’s state propaganda machine tells citizens that they live in a utopia that is the envy of the rest of the world, a claim that’s difficult to fact check in a country where contact with the outside world is all but forbidden. Over the past decade, various religious organizations and NGOs have been trying to change that by smuggling DVDs and thumbdrives full of South Korean soap operas and Hollywood movies and TV shows into the country, sometimes floating packages of them over the DMZ in special balloons.
Foreign content is both extremely illegal and extremely popular – DVDs of Desperate Housewives are reportedly hot commodities on the black market, even though people caught with them are summarily executed. For North Koreans, this show about horny backstabbing Americans is more than entertainment; it’s proof that their government is lying to them. Half of the defectors who escape North Korea have seen outside programming. The State Department has found that North Koreans who watch outside media are less likely to inform on one another to the government. One defector says she was convinced to flee after watching the movie Titanic, because she’d never considered that someone could sacrifice himself for love instead of loyalty to a pot bellied man in a tracksuit.
That was a movie about a 100 year old shipwreck. The Interview is a movie where Kim Jong Un is portrayed as an oafish Katy Perry superfan who is comically killed by a pair of clumsy journalists. Whether the movie is a laugh riot or another Funny People, it’s a direct challenge to Kim Jong Un’s authority, which is unlike anything any North Korean has ever seen before.
One Seth Rogen movie isn’t going to topple the most brutal authoritarian regime on Earth, but it could help a lot of North Koreans realize that their gout-afflicted god king really isn’t so much of a god. Or maybe it’ll just convince North Korean teenagers to start smoking pot.