I don’t think anyone is surprised at the reaction of North Korea to Sony’s movie “The Interview”. The “Supreme Leader” is a delusional despot with some serious insecurity issues. He sees threats everywhere and cannot stand any type of criticism whatsoever. Compare this to U.S. President Barack Obama who openly made fun of himself on the Stephen Colbert report.
I’ve always found it interesting that socialist governments have viewed the Arts with distrust. Art, in their minds, can only be Art if it perpetuates the message that they themselves want. The USSR during the Communist era didn’t add anything to the world of creative expression and China certainly clamps down on anything that might appear to not fall in line with their thinking. But in the past each of these countries never interfered with the countries of the Western world as they created movies and books in which their countries were always on the bad side of the story line. James Bond has famous run-ins with Russian spies and the only ones he doesn’t fight are the ones he goes to bed with.
The hackers that infiltrated Sony’s company apparently did so on the instruction of North Korea. So fragile is their hold on government and so threatened are they by a silly comedy that they went to extreme lengths. At first when it was just emails that were released I was appalled by the complete lack of judgement by Sony executives in the messages. Working for a technology based company you’d think that they’d realize that once it’s written on a computer it’s never ever deleted. Ever. But then we started hearing about the threats against this movie. We heard that Sony cancelled premiers in various locations; we heard that Sony was scaling back and then we heard the whole thing got cancelled.
We probably shouldn’t be surprised by this. These are the same decision makers who ignored concerns about a possible threat from their own IT department; these are the same decision makers who used poor judgement in their email content. These people are showing that they should not be in positions of authority as they have no grasp on common sense, managing, decision making and art.
Art has always pushed the boundaries of people’s comfort zones. Nazi Germany held many a book burning because the content differed from their ideology. True, some have used the “Art” label for nefarious purposes but for the most part painters, authors and movie makers just want to stretch the boundaries of people’s thought processes and hopefully entertain them to some extent.
As a publisher of fiction I’ve read my fair share of what some called art and I just called bad writing. There’s a lot of very talented people out there and what they produce isn’t going to be agreeable to everyone. In fact just last week I received an email – a complaint actually – on one of the stories that we published. The story was based on a down on his luck wannabe musician who inadvertently gets mixed up with drug dealers. You can imagine the dialogue that occurs between these individuals isn’t really high end. The complaint rested on the fact that we a) published a story that involved drugs and b) allowed not so flowery language to exist within it. I explained to the complainant that all kinds of stories exist and quite often authors take snippets of real life and fictionalize it in some way. Drug dealers exist and their conversations are probably not polite. Even fiction based story lines must be true to their characters.
Sony’s complete caving on the hacking scandal has only proved to embolden future hackers. It was yet another bad decision in line with many others that they’ve made recently. Any movie maker, publisher, author, artist, gallery etc must be prepared to stand by their work. If the content makes the audience uncomfortable then that means their comfort zone is expanding. I have no objection to somebody expressing their opinion to me (positive or negative) about something I’ve published. I would never take away their right to freedom of expression, but by that same token I would never want my freedom of expression limited by someone else’s ideology.
Take care and happy reading!
All Over the World