Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Ranting on The Interview

I am not happy today.

Oh, life is fine. The Catbird had two concerts this week, one for her choir, one for the jazz vocal group, that we attended and enjoyed. We had the organization holiday party, we Skyped with the Magpie, ordered a bunch of Christmas gifts–all that is fine. Though progress has slowed down a bit since November, I passed the 300-page mark on my latest project while I continue to build up some background for what I think will be my next one, and the governor of the great state of New York made a decision that shocked the heck out of me, but I fully support, when he essentially pulled the plug on High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in this state–at least for now. (Seriously, the gas will still be in the ground five years from now. As far as I’m concerned, if there’s any doubt about the safety of this process–and there is plenty of that–then this is the best course of action. But that’s a story for another day.) After today, I work on Monday and then take the rest of the week off, and that will be nice, too.

But I’m still not happy.

What I’m not happy about is Sony Pictures’ decision to pull The Interview. Set to open December 25th, the film is about a pair of American journalists who are granted an in-person interview with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un–and are subsequently recruited by the CIA to assassinate him. North Korea was not very happy about this–I’m not sure North Korea is actually happy about anything–and said so publicly. Sony Pictures, meanwhile, was hacked in late November. All sorts of information has been leaked out all over the internet, and the hackers, who may or may not be North Korean in origin, threatened September 11-style violence against theaters if they dared screen the film. After theaters started dropping the film, Sony decided to pull it altogether. (Sorry, this paragraph is a hot mess, but I don’t care)

As for the film itself, I don’t really care one way or another. I think the only Seth Rogen film I’ve actually seen is Superbad, which actually wasn’t bad. The Interview had an interesting concept, but is probably fairly standard comedy, but maybe not. It’s the sort of movie I might watch on TV one night if I came across it, but I doubt I would have gone out of my way to see it. On that level, I really don’t care.

But it pisses me off all the same. Sony’s decision, and the decision of the theater chain, make sense from a potential tragedy and a potential liability standpoint. Imagine the unthinkable. Imagine a major, national release on Christmas Day, and imagine if even one theater, anywhere in the land, is shot up, bombed, whatever.  Aside from the guilt over the injury and loss of life, imagine the lawsuits, and the lawyer saying, “You knew someone was going to do this, and you showed the film anyway?” “We really didn’t think they could pull this off” is not going to cut it as an excuse, is it?

I don’t blame Sony, or the theaters. Because, even if these so-called Guardians of Peace are just trolling us all (and, despite the noise the government is making that North Korea is actually behind this, I can’t help but feel it’s just that), even if these so-called Guardians of Peace are nothing more than a couple of idiots who are very good with computers and picked Sony because, hey, why not? Even if that’s all they are, all it takes is one other idiot, maybe an idiot who doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about North Korea and Kim Jong-un, but just some idiot who decides, “Hey, why not?”–all it takes is one idiot like that to arrive at one theater on Christmas Day with a couple of assault weapons and some Molotov cocktails stuffed in his coat to cause yet another disaster. A disaster that can cost possibly hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in damages. I don’t blame Sony for not wanting to be part of that, for not wanted to be held responsible for that, because even if there’s no real threat from the so-called Guardians of Peace, they knew there was a threat, right? They’re screwed.

This might be effective

But it pisses me off that we’ve come to this. It pisses me off that we live in a world like this. And it pisses me off because, as much as it’s scary to think some random idiot or some deeply disturbed person can end my life just because, I actually like that idea better than the notion that some foreign nation is pulling strings inside our country in this fashion. That scares me. And it makes me think of this line from Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction: “Now when you yell at me, it makes me nervous. And when I get nervous, I get scared. And when motherfuckers get scared, that’s when motherfuckers accidentally get shot.”

There’s a lot of scared people out there who are reacting with anger, and a lot of talk about kowtowing to terrorists and slippery slopes and where will it all end and stuff like that.  I’m scared because there’s a part of me that wants our nation to just go in there and show Kim Jong-un what’s what, just like there’s a part of me that wants to see us lay waste to half the desert in that rather troublesome part of the middle east–but that’s no solution I really want to see, and it’s no solution at all, and it’s a solution that would cost millions of mostly-innocent lives.

I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t know if there is a solution. And I don’t think I’ve got anything else to say on the subject. Chuck Wendig has penned a terrific post on why we should be concerned about this as artists. I recommend it. That’s it, sorry for the sloppy rant, have a nice weekend.

4 Responses

  1. I find myself rather suspicious about N. Korea connection too. It's not impossible, but I find it unlikely for the reasons Lexa mentions. But that brings up another scary question of why the US would try to sell the idea to us. It's very frustrating. Like psychos shooting up a school and killing over 100 children of military/police officers.

  2. So with the official announcement, I guess it was NK. I still find it hard to believe that such a backward, poor, and insulated country could have such amazingly smart hackers.

  3. Thanks, ladies.

    Yes, the news is in, we apparently can all blame North Korea, and I'm really interested in what Obama's "we'll choose when and where" means. What I was going to say before, though, is we need to be very careful about heaping scorn on our enemies–we underestimate them at our own risk.

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