At 1 p.m. ET, The Interview went up on YouTube and Google Play, along with a dedicated site hosted by Sony, and America’s newsrooms apparently stopped what they were doing to watch:
BuzzFeed newsroom at a standstill, transfixed, watching The Interview. This is our moon landing.
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) December 24, 2014
Among the journalists reluctantly live-tweeting their experience of watching the film that North Korea doesn’t want you to see was BuzzFeed’s foreign editor Miriam Elder, who said she found the movie more “boring” than “bad” and posted this six-second Vine as an example:
But at least she was actually watching the movie as she passed judgement. That Vine inspired a full-on post from Vox’s Max Fisher, entitled “This six-second clip shows how awful The Interview truly is.”
After spending six second watching the throwaway joke, Fisher wrote,
“Here’s what’s happening in the clip, as best I can tell: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, portrayed by Korean-American actor Randall Park, is explaining to the famous American TV host who has come to interview him, portrayed by James Franco, that he does indeed ‘pee and poo.’ He adds, ‘I have a butthole.’
While Kim is thought to speak English, it’s difficult to imagine him ever discussing his ‘pee and poo.’
More to the point, it’s difficult to imagine how or why anyone at Sony Pictures could think that this scene would be remotely funny, or even amusing. There’s not even really a joke here. Yet, somehow, dozens of people participated in this very expensive project, in which millions of dollars were spent and an international incident sparked — if unintentionally — so that movie-goers could hear an American-accented Kim Jong explain that he does in fact ‘poo.'”
Is this what film criticism has come to in the age of The Interview? Not only does Fisher base his judgement on the film as a whole, which he clearly has not seen, on one six-second clip. He goes to criticize the moment for not being an accurate representation of Kim Jong-un.
I haven’t seen the film yet either, so I’m not going to say whether it was a worthwhile project, but I can safely say that The Interview is more than this “pee and poo” joke. And even if it’s not, have we all forgotten that this is a Seth Rogen comedy and not a journalistic portrayal of life under the North Korean dictator?
In a piece earlier today, Fisher argued that watching The Interview actually “helps” North Korea because it makes Kim Jong-un seem more important than he really is. While paying $5.99 to stream the movie online will do little to harm Kim’s place in the world, I’m just not buying the argument that it helps him.
This is not about Kim Jong-un and North Korea. It is about censorship, period.
The point is, Rogen and his collaborators should be able to make whatever movie they want about whatever subject they want, regardless of how juvenile it may seem or what any foreign leader has to say. As long as there are people willing to finance it and Americans who will pay to see it, they can make all the “pee and poo” jokes they want.
UPDATE — 4:11 p.m. ET: By the way, if you want to see the setup to the “pee and poo” joke it’s in Sony’s newest trailer for the film on YouTube:
[Photo via screengrab]
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com