Where does one begin?
On the plus side, it isn’t America groveling at the feet of a tin-pot North Korean dictator, afraid that somebody is going to . . . do what? Scramble the Fandango website? Set off a stink bomb at a multiplex?
Does anybody really fear that North Korean agents are going to mow us down if we buy tubs of buttered popcorn and go to see Seth Rogen and James Franco’s “The Interview,” the now-shelved bromance comedy depicting the assassination of Kim Jong-Un?
Heck, after the slaughter at Aurora, Colorado, we worry about that risk already, when we see any movie, tempting fate that our matinee will be the one where some deranged gunman or al-Qaida wannabe decides to go out in a blaze of glory. How can we then cower in front of hypothetical North Korean henchmen? Heck guys, get in line. Fear is a big tent, there’s plenty of room for you.
My bet is whatever information Sony hackers dug up is so embarrassing that all they had to do was dangle it and the studio began inviting theater chains to drop the film. Although I can’t imagine what: The terabytes of emails already leaked suggest Hollywood studio executives are vain, insecure backbiters complaining bitterly about stars and each other. Stop the presses.
No, this isn’t the American people who failed. We’d have formed block-long lines to see the film, whooping and grinning at the cameras, delighted to waggle our middle fingers at this third-generation madman.
Rather, it was Sony, the Japanese conglomerate, that quailed, pulling the plug on the film’s Christmas Day release. Which in a selfish sense, I was glad about, because given the pressure from North Korea, suddenly seeing a Seth Rogen movie shifted from a lapse in taste to a patriotic duty. I would have been obligated to attend, only wishing the North Koreans would also command all Americans not to drink Jack Daniels.
I should add that I’ve never seen Seth Rogen movies. They could be sublime. They could be “La Dolce Vita.” But I doubt it.
There is a delicious irony to Sony spiking the film. Because the Japanese have a long history of hating the Koreans. One enters a fraught zone when making any kind of sweeping generalization. But I feel on firm ground, with enough experience to safely say that, as much as Americans like to castigate ourselves as perennial bigots, and rightly so, as Native American killers and black enslavers, the Japanese are our equals, also world-class haters, but worse, since, unlike us, they can’t come to grips with their history of brutal prejudice and gut-churning atrocity.