Killing Kim Jong-un won’t change anything, says the propagandist-turned-traitor-turned-revolutionist in the controversial comedy, THE INTERVIEW.
Screening this movie won’t change anything either. Watching it won’t change anything too, except maybe 152 minutes of your life gone. But no regrets. I didn’t expect the movie to be life-changing, much more spur a revolution. It was fun and ludicrous, gross sometimes and nothing too serious that Kim Jong-un need to worry about.
James Franco as Dave Skylark is an eccentric TV host who does “entertainment interviews” as opposed to “political interviews”. But guess what, he gets to have an exclusive interview with The Eternal Leader no less and off he goes to Pyongyang with his producer and best friend Aaron Rappaport (Seth Rogen).
It’s James Franco who elicits the laughs throughout the film, not Seth Rogen, who portrays a geeky, frustrated serious journalist (he also directed this movie btw). James plays Dave Skylark like a hoot and I can’t quite decide if he’s gay or just happy. And yes, this film is racist and sexist but not that offensive (I’ve seen worse) and oh hey, the propagandist-turned-traitor-turned-revolutionist is a woman so yay for women empowerment and emancipation in North Korea!
I’m fascinated with North Korean-related plots in dramas or films because I handle Northeast Asia news. My closest encounter though with NK is not through pop culture but through the only North Koreans I know personally in the world: my two journalism fellowship classmates in Oxford. Understandably, they fascinated us but predictably, we never got anything from them except a smile and a gibe (they know dry humor very well) whenever we start asking about their country.
Most of our knowledge about North Korea may be stereotypes but that does not mean we should dismiss allegations of human rights violations and nuclear power ambitions. But if you’re looking for enlightenment on these issues, then THE INTERVIEW is not the thing to watch.
It’s just a screwball comedy about two bungling journalists who score an exclusive with the world’s most reclusive leader because he happens to be a fan (yes, Kim Jong-un in this film is a fanboy not only of Dave Skylark but Big Bang Theory and Katy Perry; just as his father, Kim Jong-il was said to be a huge Hollywood fan. Oh the irony.). There’s an assassination plot (at the root of the controversies), a lot of sexual innuendos, a scene involving a capsule and a butt, drugs and oh yes, the CIA. There’s also a puppy and a couple of Korean extras.
As mentioned, there’s a lot of Katy Perry and her Firework (particularly in the hilarious slow-mo in the last part of the film) and yes, Jay Chou’s The Cowboy is Busy gets to have screentime too as the soundtrack in the China scene (Seth Rogen and Jay Chou co-starred in THE GREEN HORNET).
There are also cameos of famous stars on the Skylark show like Eminem (who “admits” he’s gay), Rob Lowe (who “outs” himself as bald) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And there’s an ongoing debate about entertainment journalism vs serious journalism or what Aaron Rappaport refers to as “journalism vs circusism”.
“You give people what they want. It’s like eating vegetables. After eating them, then you can eat the steak.” – Dave Skylark
The film certainly does not have any pretensions about being serious or even socially or politically relevant but instead of squirming over the racist jokes, I LOLed especially with Skylark’s speech on arrival in Pyongyang:
“We are different people. We speak different languages. We have different faces. But deep inside, we are the same. Same same but different.”
I have heard this phrase a lot over the past years I have lived in another Asian country that it’s just so funny.
Unfortunately, Kim Jong-un’s regime did not think THE INTERVIEW is funny and I can see why. If someone is making fun of you and your country, then I’d feel offended too. But I do think the hoohah (hacking Sony) over the film overestimated its impact.
“This was a revolution ignited with nothing more than a camera and some questions.” – Dave Skylark
There’s not going to be a revolution just because The Eternal Leader is revealed to be “human” after all with a butthole and likes American songs, unlike what happened in the film. In real life, you ‘d probably forget about THE INTERVIEW as soon as you finish watching it and go back to fangirling your Korean oppas.
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