Emanuel on the Rogen and Goldberg’s “The Interview”
December 25, 2014
I had a chance to see today the new movie The Interview produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. The movie has gained much attention because of the supposed hacking of Sony by North Korea in response to this comedy about an attack on the Dear Leader. The claim that North Korea was responsible has been increasingly disputed in the media over the last few days.
I was more interested in the actual content of the movie. In terms of plot, is really nothing to give away about this poorly-structured and pandering film. I obviously would never have watched it if I had not felt a necessity.
It is an interesting question what the response of the American government would have been if North Korea, or any nation, had produced a film that made light of an assassination of a specific living president of the United States and both justified the assassination and also showed him in a grotesque and compromising manner. It is hard to know what would happen, but I think we can safely say that it would have resulted in an extremely serious diplomatic disagreement.
But the more important part about the movie The Interview is simply how decadent and grotesque the film is in terms of its language and in terms of the sexual acts—and innuendos—that it presents. The film goes beyond the sophomoric humor of Animal House into some extremely disturbing mixture of sex and violence that suggest a mix of militarism and sadism. After watching the film, I started to wonder whether country we need to worry about is the United States, the nation that produced this “comedy” about killing and about the exploitation of women.
The conversations between the two protagonists are an unending barrage of references, some cloaked, some more explicit, to pornography. The movie does not actually qualify as pornography with an X rating, but in terms of tone, it is indistinguishable.
I could not get out of my mind Chris Hedges excellent book Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle as I watched. As Hedges suggests in that book, politics in the United States is increasingly a spectacle that defies any rational discourse or appeal to the common good. Politics has become, Hedges argues, pornography.
Here in this film we see American foreign policy also reduced to pornography: An instant gratification realized through a sensationalized cyber interaction between nations—not unlike the on-line cyber-sex of pornography.
Hedges explains in his book,
“The porn films are not about sex. Sex is airbrushed and digitally washed out of the films. There is no acting because none of the women are permitted to have what amounts to a personality.The one emotion they are allowed to display is an unquenchable desire to satisfy men, especially if that desire involves the women’s physical and emotional degradation.”
The various sex scenes and parties that make up a substantial part of the film are simply degrading of all participants. I hope that the controversy about this movie may lead us to take this all too American problem more seriously.