Turning inner space into outer space

December 20, 2014

How The Interview got way more publicity than it deserved

I wonder if Seth Rogen has ever seen Mel Brooks’ 1968 classic movie, The Producers.

It’s about two guys who hatch a scheme to make money by deliberately producing a theatrical flop on Broadway. The play — even though it’s about Hitler — turns out to be a hit and they are ruined. The movie ends with the conniving pair working on more outlandish ideas, because there never seems to be a shortage of suckers.

Did Rogen have something similar in mind with The Interview, a movie he made for Sony that features another dictator who has has become a pop culture caricature?

Let’s face it, the plot of The Interview is thin. Two journalists are recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. First of all, no journalists would be competent enough to carry out such a scheme. And second, even if they succeeded, Kim would simply be replaced by the powers behind the throne.

Rogen claims to have done a lot of research about North Korea, so he probably learned that its government is predictable. Any threat, no matter how inconsequential, even if it’s just a stupid stoner movie, is met with bombastic warnings of retaliation.

Sure enough, Rogen poked them with a stick and they responded. Now the FBI says it has evidence that North Korea is behind hacking into Sony’s computers and that the country is supporting threats against movie-goers.

Suddenly, The Interview is not just another flop that would have been forgotten two weeks after its release. It’s a cause célèbre among columnists everywhere, and firmly implanted in the public psyche. Yes, even the jaded newsonaut has found it impossible to ignore.

Things may have gone too far when Sony decided not to release the movie, but it could still wind up on DVD and be distributed through online rentals. So don’t feel sorry for Rogen and Sony just yet.

And if none of this is true, if the whole thing is just a mess of ineptitude, I can still imagine Rogen sitting back and having a good laugh at absurdity of it all.