Facebook Twitter YouTube SoundCloud RSS

‘The Interview’, A Sony False Flag Hack and Hollywood’s Empire of Mediocrity

1-Patrick-henningsen-BW1Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

It’s official: Sony Pictures has pulled the plug on The Interview – across all media platforms, for now.

The chain of events which led to this point may forever be marked by historians as a seminal, watershed moment in this troubling epoch, known simply as, ‘The Age of Stupidity’.

Without a doubt, the most exciting piece of foreign theater involving the US and North Korea since Dennis Rodman and The Fish That Saved Pyongyang

It couldn’t be any more ridiculous; a twisting and turning, real-life cloak and dagger drama seemingly tailor-made for Hollywood’s ever-expanding child-like adult audience who tends to believe anything which comes from ‘official sources’ or Jon Stewart’s Daily Show.

THE PLOT: A mysterious group of hackers who go by the intriguing name ‘Guardians of Peace’ (not to be confused with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’) are said to have breached the company’s firewalls and have stolen lots and lots of sensitive emails and data from Sony Pictures Entertainment in Hollywood.

ACTION: On Monday morning Nov. 24th, Sony employees log into their computers only to be greeted by a neon red skeleton on their monitor screens accompanied by the words, “#Hacked by #GOP,” (no, not the Republican Party), followed by lots of threats to release data and post Hollywood secrets online in text-sharing sites like PasteBin, frequented by ‘hactivists’.

Worst of all, the hack attack upset what is by far America’s utmost important group of individuals – actors (including the one in the White House).

CANCELED: Was it down to terrorism, or just bad taste?

The whole affair is said to be very traumatic for Angelina Jolie, and Adam Sandler, and has also exposed a bitter turf war between the agents of both Charlize Theron and Scarlett Johansson. So studio execs are panicking, actors are traumatized, narcissistic sensibilities have been rattled, and publicists are really stressed-out too.

To make matters worse, these unknown, nameless and faceless hackers also oppose the release of Sony’s new political ‘comedy’ (we’ll use that term loosely), entitled, The Interview, which lovingly portrays the violent assassination of North Korea’s Dear leader Kim Jong Un.

We’re then told that “the hackers” are threatening (maybe virtual, or maybe real, they didn’t specify) to unleash “Sept. 11-style” attacks against any theaters who dare screen the upcoming movie. How they would pull-off these attacks against thousands of US theaters simultaneously will forever baffle our media’s fraternity of national security experts.

Then, all of the sudden and in unison, the media shouts and screams with of sort a confirmation: “Multiple reports suggest [!] U.S. government officials believe the attack is tied to the North Korean government”, or so says the Washington Post.

In other words, they might just be making it up, and it wouldn’t be the first time either. For all we know, much of this could have emanated from a publicity office somewhere in Los Angeles.

Actor James Franco and the character of Kim Jung Un (Image Source: Hollywood Reporter).

More tragically, the stars of the film, Seth Rogen and James Franco, have cancelled their media appearances on a number of really important programs (which no one I know actually watches), like The Jimmy Fallon Show.

No need to fear, George Clooney is here. Clooney is talking tough. He’s figured it out and knows who did it, telling us in a Deadline interview: “It was North Korea.”

According to Clooney, they’ve really crossed the Rubicon this time – the single biggest political tremor to hit Hollywood since McCarthy’s red purges in the 1950’s. Bigger than when Arnold ran for governor even. I mean, it’s really, really big. Huge. A whole new paradigm.

Now, for the most part, really famous actors will stick to safe causes; nice charity events, doing spots for PETA, wearing colored wristbands and driving Teslas. If they are really edgy, they’ll be hanging out with Al Gore, looking out the window at the Amazon Rainforest from Al’s private jet. The point is that Hollywood and the movie business is the most politicized industry of all in America, which is why you will never hear any of our revered actors ever speaking out about anything big, for fear of political reprisals (we’re just wondering where George is planning to take all this).

1-North-Korea-ClooneyThis affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have. That’s the truth. What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it?”.

Yes, George, that happens every day. What’s even worse though, is when our own government or a corporation (or a celebrity and their agent) doesn’t like it. It ends up on the cutting room floor along with 99% of what might be otherwise useful or interesting news for the public at large (unlike The Interview).

Clooney continues, “This was a dumb comedy that was about to come out. With the First Amendment, you’re never protecting Jefferson; it’s usually protecting some guy who’s burning a flag or doing something stupid. This is a silly comedy, but the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this,” (not exactly sure what all George meant there, but it’s George Clooney, so I suppose it must be important).

At last, an international cause that Hollywood can finally rally around – together in solidarity! It’s what we all have secretly wished for –  that Team America’s plot line has finally gone operational.

If this latest crisis demonstrates anything at all, it shows how Hollywood and North Korea have more in common than they realize – both are really big on theatrics, but not very big on substance.

What George Clooney might not know, and what history shows, is that North Korea’s bark is much worse than its bite. So in terms of a national security threat to the US, it’s somewhere between nil and nonexistent.

UNIT 121
SMERSH: If Washington is to be believed, then this must be evidence of North Korea’s notorious ‘Unit 121’ hacker layer.

Most US media outlets managed to spin the Sony hack into a piece of national security propaganda – stoking fears of a “mysterious” North Korean hacking group, ‘Unit 121′. No surprise then that the charge originates from the US government itself, whose own General Bureau of Reconnaissance “suspects” the North Koreans were behind the attack on Sony. If you believe FOX’s Shepard Smith, you’d think that this was something along the lines of SPECTRE or SMERSH, but it’s more likely just another exercise in creativity from CIA’s propaganda desk in Seoul, alongside other imaginary figments, dreamed-up by the State Department like the ‘feared’ Khorosan Group. If this were a creative writing class, they’d all get an A+, but sadly it’s not.

As usual, western media seem to be trapped in their echo chamber of ‘official sources’. Yesterday, WSJ wrote: “Late last year, South Korea’s intelligence service quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as saying that cyber warfare capabilities are “a magic weapon” along with nuclear capabilities that enable Pyongyang to threaten South Korea.”

It’s not hard to read through this coverage, especially when newspapers like the Wall Street Journal are simply copying and pasting straight off sanitized ‘intelligence’ briefings (not unlike the North Koreans themselves).

Even less real is the threat of terror attacks on cinemas, as evidenced by the US Homeland Security’s own admission, with officials stating, “The agency was aware of the threat, but had “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.”

One major detail which the mainstream media conveniently overlooked is that back in July, the hacking group known as Anonymous, declared war on US government and its favored corporations, which they said would start on December 13, 2014 – in the same time frame as this crisis. It’s food for thought.

While the mainstream media are busy building up North Korea’s cyber prowess, in reality, it’s probably no more real than that country’s practically nonexistent nuclear weapons program which the US periodically pumps up whenever the Pentagon is awaiting a new budget approval, or the White House wants to pivot towards Asia.

The last time the North Korean menace was unleashed by the White House on US televisions sets was during the North Korean scare back in Feb-March 2013. That was hailed at the time as a “major threat”, where Obama’s war hawks chose a more neoconservative approach by baiting the North with a nuclear-capable B-2 Stealth flyover of the country, coinciding with F22 aerial exercises and a US Navy Destroyer parked off the South Korean peninsula – all part of a major scheduled military drill at the time (but it was spun as a stand-off for PR purposes).

If Pyongyang has nukes, no one has actually seen them, including Washington spooks. The Washington Post said as much, when a former senior Obama administration official admitted there’s no actual evidence of any such weapons, saying, “We’re worried about it, but we haven’t seen it”.

In other words, more fiction. Here is what I said back in February 2013:


Impossible Inside Baseball in Pyongyang

What is almost hilarious about this whole affair is that, on one hand Hollywood minstrels are constantly lampooning North Korea as a comic book regime, and yet everyone from the White House to George Clooney has now suddenly validated the throw-back regime for this incredibly sophisticated ‘inside baseball’ super-hack which subtly targeted sensitive information regarding certain persons, relationships and nuances – that only a Hollywood or PR insider could. Isn’t that interesting. George?

Being the bastion of state-run propaganda that is North Korea, you’d expect that Pyongyang would have taken credit for this grand cyber caper, but it hasn’t. In fact, it’s done the opposite and denied its involvement in the attack. Now, that’s not very North Korean of them.

So with no real evidence to prove otherwise, it’s more likely that the Sony hack was done on behalf of someone other than North Korea. It’s not that the US doesn’t have its share of enemies in the wake of Ed Snowden’s revelations, therefore, it could be any number of governments (including the US). It’s also possible that the hack came from a Hollywood competitor, or a former Sony employee. More than likely, this hack is a false flag.

Meanwhile, Clooney is still steaming over the fact that no one in Tinsel Town wanted to sign his petition demanding that the film be released. One has to question Clooney’s normally cool, calm and collected demeanor, after he ranted to Deadline, “We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all f*cking people.” Not cool. Not classy either.

If I could get past his publicist, his agent and his body guard, I would pose a standard liberal ethics argument to George Clooney. I would ask him, “I loved you in Good Night and Good Luck by the way. So, George, how would you describe a Hollywood blockbuster with a gory, violent ending, and graphic death scene, which involves an acting head of state? Moreover, as a crusader against corporate largess, is it really ‘ethical’ for Sony Pictures to turn a $100 or $200 million profit from a violent, highly politicized propaganda film?”

Two words George: bad taste.  

Always on the cutting edge of morals and ethics, Hollywood’s brain trust are trying to conjure the shallow argument that somehow this crisis is the front line of “free speech”. It’s a little sad watching the usual suspects calling for solidarity, and for America to “join shoulder to shoulder with Sony” to support the release of this piece of geopolitical pornography over the holidays.

We’re told that a nation of moviegoers will be in mourning with the announcement that The Interview won’t be shown on Christmas Day, a cowardly move which cruelly deprives millions of Americans of yet another deep and fulfilling, cutting edge cultural experience brought to you by Svengali and Sons. A tragic ending to a really stupid film. Pundits on CNN, FOX, and even the White House press corps, are all saying that American families should all sit down together at Christmas, pay $5.99 to download it, and watch as Seth Rogan blows up the North Korean leader’s head. A wonderful Christmas activity for the whole family. How patriotic.

The Interview is is not ‘Team America’. There is a difference. One is a Punch ‘n Judy puppet show, and the other a big-budget, personalized graphic depiction, and cynical piece of state propaganda (more on that later) designed to dehumanize North Korea mostly for the pleasure western audiences. That difference was apparent lost on Sony, Hollywood and POTUS too.

Obama-North KoreaWhen President Obama was asked what his view on the controversy was, I truly hoped he’d abstain from commenting on whether or not Sony should have released the film or not, but this is a President who never shies away from sticking his basketball shoe in it. “They made a mistake”, said Obama about Sony.

In reality, it’s actually none of the President’s, or the federal government’s business what Sony Entertainment does with its product. The fact Obama felt compelled to weigh-in on one side of this debate is perplexing, unless, of course, he has some skin in this game (more on that later).

He went on to say the U.S. would respond to North Korea’s alleged hacks and threats, “in a place and manner and time that we choose.” (translating Obamaspeak, this means there will be NO response, and the issue will soon disappear from Obama’s radar within 7-10 days).

Some have tried, in a feeble way, to defend The Interview by comparing it to the Bond classic, From Russia With Love, but that comparison falls short on so many levels. There is one recent situation involving the President himself, where, under the color of a national security/presidential security concern, the White House stepped in, sending its Secret Service in to intimidate the creator of the cartoon, ‘Constitution Conrad’, from Fox Bros Studios in Los Angeles. The plot line that in question was nearly identical to the assassination of Kim Jung Un in The Interview, only this time a futuristic, Ford Theater type scenario depicted Obama as the victim…

Watch the Fox Bros episode here:

Meanwhile, Hollywood, Clooney, and others are all crying foul, claiming that somehow Sony has ‘caved into terrorists’. CNN’s Jake Tapper came up with the ridiculous theory that this new threat that’s ‘chilling of free speech’ could spread to journalists too (well then Jake, you have nothing to worry about then). Clooney was more creative, using bigger words (bear in mind that in Hollywood circles, Clooney will appear like Stephen Hawking to the average sewer rat in Century City), claiming it’s a slippery slope that could hit any business. His theory: “All that it is basically saying is, we’re not going to give in to a ransom. As we watched one group be completely vilified, nobody stood up. Nobody took that stand. Now, I say this is a situation we are going to have to come to terms with, a new paradigm and a new way of handling our business. Because this could happen to an electric company, a car company, a newsroom. It could happen to anybody.”

A “new paradigm”, that “could happen to anybody”? George may be ready for politics after all.

The battle cry: “We can’t allow intimidation and threats to determine what constitutes ‘entertainment’ and what can and can’t be released.” They say the people are demanding the release of this film. FOX News even calling for the President to announce a national day where everyone in America can ‘go and watch this important film’. Really?

Filmologist Clooney probably never heard of Constitution Conrad, but he has seen Team America, which he uses to defend The Interview, saying, “The South Park guys did it. They blew up his father’s head. The truth of the matter is, of course you should be able to make any movie you want. And, you should take the ramifications for it.”

Yes, that’s right George, and you of all people should know that many have, and many have tried and failed (for various reasons) in that eternal quest, and will continue to fail because what constitutes good taste and ‘quality entertainment’ in Hollywood’s self-reverential bubble – is not the same as what people out in the real world think.

By the same token, we might ask George, why not screen another film that’s in very ‘high demand’ called, ‘The Innocence of Muslims‘ (now proven to be a political hoax)? The answer to that question is simple: because we live in the real world, populated by real people. What about free speech? As part of Hollywood’s liberal intelligensia, Clooney knows that the disingenuous ‘free speech’ argument holds no water here, because enough people find the The Innocence of Muslims offensive (or just plain bad). The same with The Interview, a film of which many millions, if not billions of people worldwide will find offense – including millions of people in South Korea. A simple concept many will never be able to grasp. What a shame. Such is the cultural detritus of Hollywood.

Moreover, if… The Interview was released in all of its trash taste glory, it would provide the ultimate PR weapon against the United States by its foreign detractors. Onlookers could simply point, and say, “Look at how disgusting the nexus is between Hollywood and Washington DC that they would put out such an inflammatory piece in such bad taste. This proves what idiots Americans are that they would spend $46 million to make such a monstrosity”. From a counterintelligence point of view, it would actually be in Washington’s interest not to see this film released, and perhaps insiders might pull out all the stops to make it look like someone else did it and spin it into a patriotic battle for free speech and freedom. And who better to lay blame than North Korea itself? When you’re playing on this level, this is the sort of spin you would expect in a situation like  this.

For Hollywood or Washington DC to be lecturing the world, or protesting on any ethical or moral ground is hypocritical at best. President Obama continued to wax lyrical during his end of year speech saying, “We cannot have a society in which, some dictator some place can start imposing censorship in the United States, because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they do when they start seeing a documentary they don’t like, or news reports that they don’t like. Or even worse, imagine if producers, and distributors and others, start engaging in self-censorship because they don’t want to offend the sensibilities of someone whose sensibilities probably need to be offended.”

This is very shallow gibberish from Obama. This is probably one of the most inane comments ever made by the President and that’s saying a lot. Yes, Mr President. Imagine what that would be like! We don’t have to imagine it, because it happens every day in the America already – across all media. First of all, everyone ‘self-censors’ all the time in fact, and Obama, more than any other actor, should know that being in Washington DC.

So our own Dear Leader tells us, ‘We can’t allow this sort of thing to happen, I mean, this was a satire film, what happens when someone comes out with a documentary?’ Well Mr. President, let’s think about that one, oh yes…

Let’s talk about what happened in 2008, when the Federal Elections Commission, under pressure from the Clintons, the Democratic Party and others, stepped in to ban the documentary film, Hillary: The Movie, a damning indictment of crimes and corruption of Bill and Hillary Clinton, which the government prevented being aired on video-on-demand on cable TV shortly before the 2008 Democratic primaries.

In a post-literate society, it’s no secret these days that most Americans obtain their ‘world view’ and prevailing geopolitical archetypes, not from books, newspapers or hard news programs, but from entertainment sources. While Steve Colbert’ delivers essential ‘nightly news’ to BoBo’s and millennials, majors like (20th Century) FOX News deliver their own stylized narrow and dumbed-down version of geopolitical neoconservative reality.

Beltway Propaganda Machine

One of Hollywood’s primary functions in the 21st century seems to be disseminating sensational propaganda, not just to US audiences, but overseas as well. The sad truth behind the The Interview, is that the film has the dirty paw prints of the US defesnse establishment all over it, which makes George Clooney and Barack Obama’s rants all the more laughable. Award-winning writer Ann Hornaday from Washington Post confirmed as much today (via the Daily Beast), with this exchange between DoD contractors and Sony’s Michael Lynton:

“In a June e-mail, Rand defense analyst Bruce Bennett wrote to Lynton [head of Sony Pictures]: “I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government. Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will).”

Lynton subsequently wrote back: “Bruce — Spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially). He agreed with everything you have been saying. Everything. I will fill you in when we speak.”

So the film itself – the very one that FOX, CNN, George Clooney and the President himself – are insisting America gets behind, is nothing more than a $46 million piece of Pentagon-steered propaganda.

Hornaday continues:

“The exchange conjured an equally fascinating interlude two years ago, when Lynton moderated a panel at Rand called “How Hollywood Affects Global Policy.” In what now looks like a quaint artifact from a prelapsarian age, Lynton lobbed softballs at actor Michael Sheen, “Homeland” and “24” creator Howard Gordon and Showtime Entertainment president David Nevins about terrorism and torture, never once mentioning the Sony movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” which would be caught in the crossfire about both just a few weeks hence. Presumably the “Interview” script was making the rounds at Sony’s Columbia Pictures, which would greenlight the project early the following year.”

This brings us to the subject of torture, and how it is contorted through politicized nexus of Washington DC and Hollywood. Sure, it may pass as good entertainment for some, but those plots and storylines are not hatched in an innocent vacuum of creativity. The reality is something much different; the story lines of Homeland and 24 don’t just depict torture, they politicize it, and thus they promote it to America and international audiences in devious fashion precisely because of the politicization used to supercharge each and every scenario. That flavor of political spin belongs to an extremist minority within the United States, which is the Neoconservative faction, who routinely promote jingoism and xenophobia all in the name of foreign policy. The same faction is actually driving the simplistic, adolescent-level view of the world represented in The Interview.

‘Messaging’ is everything for government. Hence, government works closely with the Svengalis and Hollywood’s self-appointed culture-makers. All at the expense of the US taxpayer, Hollywood get tens of millions in free subsidies, the free use of expensive military equipment, and the services of various military consultants. These ‘national security’ experts have direct ties with (if not employed by) the Pentagon, CIA, State Department. Often the government will ‘donate’ personnel, equipment and general ‘access’ – in return for input into the screenplay and final product. What else is this arrangement but a corporatized version of state propaganda.

In fact, Sony’s film, Zero Dark Thirty, is one of the best, most recent examples of the Washington-Hollywood propaganda partnership. Washington gave Hollywood its ‘unprecedented access’ for one reason and one reason only. It was a quid pro quo.

Undoubtedly, Washington allowed ‘access’ to the version of the truth which Washington wanted Hollywood to portray. So the film was produced solely for the benefit of US foreign policy designed to convince audiences its  torture is necessary to catch evil terrorists, namely Osama bin Laden. It’s too bad there was nothing left in the budget to use CGI to recreate the fabled bin Laden raid in 2011, or build a wax replica of bin Laden because no one can remember seeing the alleged corpse which the White House claims to have dumped at sea. Hey, now there’s a film worth spending $40 million to make, don’t you think? I will even direct it for free (so long as George agrees to produce it).

It seems that more than any other studio, Sony Pictures and the US government are deeply in bed with each other when it comes to military PR, aka propaganda.

Notice how, for the most part, Hollywood and the actor’s guilt was all but silent about the issue of torture in the wake of the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report on Enhanced Interrogation.  You’d think that this would be an easy ‘feel good’ cause for the great and the good of Westwood. Not really. You see, there’s the small problem of the thousands of actors, directors, producers and crew – who’ve all made a mint off of promoting torture through their warped version of Cinéma vérité. No one wants to bite that hand that feeds them, even when they are all on the wrong side of history.

When considering the current contrived debate over The Interview, it’s important to think of it firstly as a film and not as a short-term political prize for its various US stakeholders, be they business, political or otherwise. Films are frequently banned, or ‘pulled’ – and for a variety of reasons – for violence, blasphemy, sexual content, or for promoting paedophilia, necrophilia, or for politics which do not fit in the host country at that time.

The vast majority of films which do not show in any particular country are not picked up for theatrical release simply because they are not deemed profitable. Then there are those “officially banned” by the state. After that, there are many cases where films are simply “withdrawn” or “pulled”, from cinemas or stores, because of public outrage, or very rarely, because of threats of violence (as with A Clockwork Orange). Whether  The Interview is ‘withdrawn’ or eventually banned, it’s key to consider where it stands alongside other banned, or pulled material…

The supposed ‘tolerance of the west’ is not as tolerant as many people might think. Outside of the obvious theocracies like Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Singapore (33 films banned), Great Britain has officially banned more films than any other ‘western’ country with a total of 49 major releases banned from 1914 to the present. Second place is the United States with 23 films banned. Interestingly, from 1943 t0 1983, a total of 13 films were banned in Ireland, including Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life on the grounds of blasphemy. In 1973, Israel banned Hitler: The Last Ten Days because the Israeli censorship board felt that lead actor Alec Guinness portrayed Hitler in “too human a light”. In 1983, The Last Temptation of Christ was also banned in Israel on the grounds that it might inflame Palestinian Christian public opinion, causing political and civil problems as a result. In 1972, the film One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was banned in Finland for ‘harming Finland-Soviet relations’. From 1925 to 1953, Sergei Eisenstein’s socialist, silent classic, Batttleship Potekim, was banned in France, along with most western countries, because it was seen as sympathetic to communism. Even Sony Pictures and Peter Jackson’s District 9 was banned in Nigeria, (arguably Africa’s largest film market), on the basis that it was xenophobic and racist towards Nigerians. And the list goes on…

Overwhelmingly, the most common justification across all nations for banning a film is because of extreme violent content. Most societies worldwide generally will not support a piece of art or film which is glorifying and indulging in gratuitous violence, because this is inferred as promoting violence. For whatever reason, the United States more than any other country or society has pushed to lower the bar and encourage more and more gratuitous violence in its film, and computer game industries. Recently, The Human Centipede, a 2009 Dutch film written, directed, and co-produced by Tom Six, has been the poster child for the kind of cinematic depravity championed by bourgeois cinema enthusiasts. In the end, it was banned in many countries, including Australia, and in the UK (was thinking about buying a copy on Blu-ray for George as a stocking-stuffer this year. I hope he likes it).

Liberal Philistines in Hollywood will often defend lowering the taste bar by claiming this is evidence of ‘western progress’, and try to disingenuously pin the issue to ‘free speech’ when clearly it’s not. Conversely, films like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Saw 3D, were banned in Germany, Sweden, Iceland and Norway because they were deemed ‘extremely violent. In the case of Germany, one might contend this is part political – a society still keen to distance itself from its violent past. There’s a censored “Keine Jugendfreigabe/ No youth admitted” version, but all the violent scenes were cut out. Similarly, in 2012, The Hunger Games was banned in Vietnam because of violence and what authorities felt were ‘disturbing themes’. In the case Texas Chainsaw in Norway, Sweden and Iceland, it was simply a breach of acceptable social norms; in other words, they just found the production to be either overly perverted, or just plain disgusting.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 12.13.40
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE: Banned in the UK and elsewhere over fears of violence.

Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange was banned in the UK from 1973 to 1999. “Not banned per se, but withdrawn in the United Kingdom two years after its release by Warner Bros. following a request for this action from its own director, Stanley Kubrick. This was not because of the alleged copycat violence inspired by the film contemporarily reported by the media, as commonly believed. but because Kubrick had received death threats against his family. It was not allowed to be shown again in the UK until after his death in 1999, and before the release of Eyes Wide Shut, his last film.” (Wikipedia).

The overwhelming majority of censorship in Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood and every other wood, is self-censorship, which comes down to two things: dollars, and sense. From a studio or investor point of view, the whole process of cutting film is both economic and political. The process begins with Directors who discriminate which scenes further the story, their vision and decide which contents will satisfy audiences. The next in line are the Studios, who will cut scenes based on how it might affect their bottom line, but this includes taking into account audience sensibilities, and certainly politics. Herein lies the rub with The Interview. Clearly, that internal process, or ‘reality check’ never took place. For whatever reason, the studio’s latest ‘uber cool’ project was allowed to progress through to production and all the way to release without any real reservations as to whether or not the final product would actually fly in the real world. Some might chalk this down to arrogance, ignorance and offer it up as proof of Hollywood’s growing, detachment from the rest of society at large.

Also, there exists a direct correlation between the prevailing politics and religion of the day and which films will be deemed acceptable at any given time, in any given country.  In 2014, as Washington amps-up the Russian threat once again, we are re-entering the era of power-politics, not unlike WWI and WWII – when many films were forcibly shelved, and where films, as powerful tools for propaganda, do matter. Although this fuss may involve the over-inflated menace of North Korea (of marginal geopolitical significance), the stakes will be much higher if George Clooney and the Guardians of Free Speech in Hollywood ever attempted to defame the leadership of Russia, China or even Pakistan – on behalf of the US State Department and Pentagon.

One has to ask the question: why would studio executives at Sony plough their hard-earned cash into a film production that makes lite and graphically depicts the violent death of an actual living head of state? Regardless of what you might think about the People’s Republic of North Korea, or its Dear Leader Kim Jun Un, I think we are all in agreement that The Interview was not made to improve relations between the west and Pyongyang. Add to this the fact that this film is actually written with a 12-17 mental age bracket in mind, and for an audience under the influence of marijuana (another one of Seth Rogan’s celluloid masterpieces comes to mind, Pineapple Express). We will also all probably agree too that of the three dozen or so films which have had major releases in the last 60 days, 90% of them are rubbish. That’s over $1 billion worth of rubbish. That’s all the actors fees, director, crew and the marketing, for a two month stretch. Worse than this, the line between what’s meant for children and adults is totally blurred. Some might call this dumbing down; part of a grander process of establishing an adolescent, stone-aged level of political awareness. The sad fact of the matter is that most reasonable people have given up on expecting anything more from Hollywood.

Every film producer takes a risk when making a film. The biggest risk is that it will flop, and everyone loses money, or worse, their reputations. Outside of state interference, the market normally decides which films take off and which ones don’t. Like it or not, markets are not just composed of numbers, they’re composed of people too. Market forces must factor-in real people, and the reason the The Interview has been pulled this week is because real people asked that it be pulled. The financial repercussions, in the short-term anyway, are massive. Production costs, sales and marketing, advertising – it means that the studio may not be able to recoup its multi-million dollar outlay for the film.

The Art of the Shake-Down

The biggest political prize to come out of the Sony hack has to be that studio execs were accused of being racist and insulted President Barack Obama. For this White House, the political capital in that accusation is worth something. All they need now is for AG Eric Holder to open a ‘civil rights investigation’ to dig-up some “racial misconduct” at Sony Entertainment, or even worse, the evil bobble-head himself, Al Sharpton, could show up in LA with a mob in tow. Well, it’s too late for that, as the White House’s unofficial ‘Minister of Race’, Sharpton, wasted no time helicoptering in on Sony execs, threatening to use his mobs against them to force resignations or sackings – if they do not give him what he wants.

BURN IT DOWN: Somehow, Sharpton inserted himself into the Sony hacking scandal.

In an attempt to shake-down the studio, the former FBI snitch and street-mob agitator, Sharpton went to meet with Sony Chairman Amy Pascal on Thursday, and then proudly announced afterwards from his bully pulpit on the Sony front lawn, “The jury is still out with where we go with Amy”, meaning that he reserves the right to get her fired.

Mind you, with Sharpton in town, you’d be a fool not to be wearing your fire suit (literally).

It’s not altogether clear what Sharpton actually wants from Sony, other than another LA riot, or a speaking part in ‘The Obama Movie’ (end-of-term, cinematic swansong), and who else would play the role of POTUS than Will Smith? Rumor has it that Smith’s production company was kicked off of Sony’s lot following the galactic financial flop of his Scientology-inspired Smith-family junket known as, After Earth. Then who’s sitting on the rights to Obama’s legacy film? Sony? Maybe that’s why Sharpton forced himself on Hollywood in order to shake-down Sony and Chairman Pascal. Maybe that’s what the Washington hack on Sony (if indeed that’s the case) is all about? It’s sound as much, if not more plausible than a cyber attack by the dreaded Unit 121.

Whatever it is, it’s much to do about something, and you can bet your bottom dollar it has nothing to do with protecting your free speech, or saving you from terrorism (or SPECTRE).

‘We Need More Control Over Internet’

In fact, during his end of year address yesterday, President Obama has promised America that he won’t let this crisis go to waste: “I’ve set up an inter-agency cyber security team to figure out everything that we can do at the government level to prevent these kinds of attacks. We’ve been coordinating with the private sector, but a lot more needs to be done. We’re not even close to where we need to be”, says Obama.

“More broadly though, this points to the need for us to work with the international community to start setting up some very clear rules for the road for how the internet and cyber operates. Right now it’s like the wild west. This is why it’s important for Congress to get a bill passed  the kind of information sharing we need (between private corporations and central government).”

What? The kind of information sharing ‘we’ need? Like NSA-kind of ‘information sharing’? No thanks Mr. President. We should have known; a good old fashion power grab.

In the final analysis, an over priced, mediocre Hollywood production has been derailed temporarily (coming to a DVD vending machine near you) – a minor crimp on a US media landscape that is already completely over-run by corporate censorship and government propaganda.

If this whole thing sounds like one giant big publicity stunt, that’s probably because it is.

Not coming to a theater near you. 

READ MORE HOLLYWOOD NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Hollywood Files



Get Your Copy of New Dawn Magazine #203 - Mar-Apr Issue
Get Your Copy of New Dawn Magazine #203 - Mar-Apr Issue