December 18, 2014

Stand Up And #RememberTheInterview

I am completely dumbfounded by the events of the past 24 hours.

This is not going to be yet another think piece on the morally reprehensible position of capitulating to the childish whims of an insane foreign power, or a screed against sacrificing our most basic and essential American freedom, that of free speech and artistic expression, out of a position of fear.  And make no mistake, that is precisely what has occurred here.  But at this point, what's done is done.  Sony has completely scrapped thier plans for any and all release of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's The Interview, and while I would have put good money on a digital release after some time had passed and the excitement had died down, it's now looking more and more likely that the film will be shelved entirely.  You see, studios insure movies the same way that you insure your car.  By completely dropping the film, Sony can essentially declare the thing a "total loss" and get a bigger payout.  Granted that's tantamount to me telling Allstate that my car has been totaled because a 9 year old threatened to set it on fire, but still.

So where do we go from here?  Sony and the theater owners can bend over for Kim Jong Un (the fact that we are legitimizing this clown is maybe the most maddening aspect of this entire affair) but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to.  Yesterday I tweeted that regardless of your feelings about Franco or Rogen or even if The Interview was no damn good, it demanded to be seen on principle alone and you can bet your ass that I would have been first in line at the box office on Christmas Day to buy a ticket as the most effective statement possible that I'm not going to be pushed around by petty thugs.  Now that option has been taken away.  So what is a film fan and a patriot to do?

I've seen some people use the hashtag #RememberTheInterview, and I'm absolutely on board.  It evokes "Remember the Alamo," which is appropriate considering that this particular battle is already over and we lost.  So let The Interview be a rallying cry for those who refuse to stand by and let this sort of policy become standard operating procedure.  It's an incredibly dangerous precedent to set.  As Jordan Hoffman pointed out on Twitter, "What happens when the KKK threatens theaters showing SELMA?"  If you don't think that's a valid point, you're nuts.  The threatening of studios and theater chains simply for showing a film is nothing new, but never in the history of cinema have all parties completely caved like this.  IT'S NEVER HAPPENED.  We can not let it happen again.

My hat is off to those mad geniuses at the Alamo Drafthouse, who will be showing Team America: World Police on Christmas Day in place of The Interview.  It's an inspired move, as the villain of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's absurd marionette action movie is none other than Kim Jong Il.  I often lament the fact that there is no Alamo Drafthouse here in New England, but in this case I'm doubly pissed.  If you live near a Drafthouse, you should really get on this.

Drafthouse also has a film distribution arm and I saw them suggest on Twitter yesterday that they'd be willing to buy the film outright.  If Sony really is trying to turn the film into a complete insurance write-off, I'm pretty sure they can't actually sell the damn thing.  But here's a suggestion: simply turn the film back over to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg for no money and let them do whatever they want with it.  Fuck it, use Kickstarter to launch an independent release.  $10 bucks for a digital download, $20 for a Blu-ray?  Shit yeah, I would pay that.  If you thought the Veronica Mars thing was a big deal...

I'm also down with Devin Faraci's suggestion that the Acacdemy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should award Rogen and Goldberg with some kind of honorary Oscar this year.  I don't honestly believe such a thing will actually happen, (at least not this year) but wouldn't it be great if they spent a few minutes during the awards ceremony to praise these guys and maybe even show some footage or something?  If we're really never going to see this movie, then air Kim Jong Un's death scene.  Talk about a great "Fuck you."

But what about something more concrete and immediate?  President Obama has urged people to go to the movies and I think that's a fine idea.  Show Dear Leader and the Guardians Of Peace that you won't cater to their bullshit.  My wife's family usually makes a trip to the theater on Christmas Day and you can be damn sure we'll be heading there this year.  It doesn't really matter what you see, although I'd argue that if you want to make a statement with your ticket purchase, Selma is the Christmas release that's most appropriate.  It may not be as cheerful as Annie or Into The Woods, but it's now without a doubt my first choice.

In the meantime, I recommend picking up a copy of This Is The End on Blu-ray or DVD.  Aside from being one of the funniest movies of 2013, it's also a Sony movie from Rogen, Goldberg and much of the same creative team.  It's basically the closest you can get to buying a protest ticket to The Interview.  If you don't already own This Is The End, well, you really should.  It's not only breathlessly funny, but it's also got a really sweet and endearing core.  Now is the perfect time to fill that gap in your home movie library, and if there's someone on your holiday shopping list for whom you still don't have a gift, this is a great option.  It's currently only $10 on Amazon and if you order by tomorrow then Amazon swears it will get to you in time for Christmas, even if you don't have Prime.  I'm ordering mine right now.

This is not okay.  Sony may have thrown in the towel, but I refuse.  This is the closest I'll ever get to the front lines in the war on terror.  I can't shoot a gun, drive a tank or hack a foreign government.*  But I will scream myself hoarse in the name of artistic freedom.


*Sidenote: If it's conclusively proven that the North Korean government did in fact order the hack on Sony, then I say such action absolutely merits U.S. retaliation.  This could start an era of legitimate American cyber-warfare.  Fucking crazy.

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