Beliefnet
L'Ordre

La beauté sera CONVULSIVE ou ne sera pas.

Beauty will be CONVULSIVE or not at all.

André Breton


Americans, the folks who scream and whine more about “terror” threats to their nation more than any other people in the world, are now slamming North Korea after the state took alleged cyber-protest actions to oppose a Hollywood movie blatantly calling for the assassination of the head of state of North Korea.

For example, in an MTV article called “All The Moments From ‘The Interview’ That The Hackers Didn’t Want You To See”, entertainment blogger Shaunna Murphy ridicules North Korea’s prudish protectiveness of its leader’s image, attempting to shield him from the apparent humiliation (not to mention the movie’s slightly more troubling rabid encouragement for his assassination.)

Obviously, I’m not impressed by Shaunna’s reasoning, or the reasoning of anyone else defending The Interview as a legitimate artistic work faced with extrajudicial censorship. It strikes me as some truly bizarre and hypocritical commentary coming from the US, which is the most paranoid and heavily-policed regime in the world, which would detain and torture anyone who threatened the life or well-being of its own head of state. Note that America itself is quite harsh against what it deems to be “terrorist” literature, and that includes works of art, so the US is in no position to accuse any other society of being too protective of its leaders and national symbols. I think the world’s “greatest” country just needs to take a serious look in the mirror, before it begins to criticize anyone.

Sure, North Korea has reacted disproportionately paranoid and touchy about what could have just been a harmless piece of Hollywood entertainment. But this is a pretty unprecedented movie. No Hollywood movie has ever focused so heavily on encouraging and justifying the assassination of an incumbent head of state before (except maybe one or two featuring Saddam Hussein, but I’m not sure his assassination was actually depicted in or central to those movies.) But are Americans any better than North Koreans in this regard? If Americans believe the United States is some kind of open, liberal society where everything is permitted – including films encouraging the assassination of US presidents and living public figures and iconoclasm against America’s bizarrely sanctified flags and national symbols – they are living in a fantasy world.

It kind of reminds me of the conservatives who burn the Qur’an, as if the violent backlash somehow proves how intolerant the Muslims are, but they themselves incite violence against Muslims who set the star-spangled banner on fire. Tell me, why is your stripey, dirty little pajama trouser of a flag more precious than a holy book that has been praised and nurtured by billions of people who believe its words to be divinely inspired?

Realize that the US is just as paranoid and heavily secured against this kind of literature promoting assassination and treason as North Korea. If you were a radical subversive who made a movie encouraging Obama to be publicly humiliated and killed before the eyes of the American people as The Interview does for Kim Jong-Un, you could be tracked and shot dead by Navy SEALs, or taken away to Guantanamo Bay and tortured. Is this the behavior of a regime that can call North Korea closed and paranoid, or are American justifications for vigilance against “evil” more justified than North Korea’s justifications?

Would Shaunna Murphy, who wrote the MTV op-ed I linked here, be as enthusiastic in insisting that we all watch a terrorist Gif of Obama’s severed head rolling on the broken steps of the White House, or a movie celebrating the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, just to prove that we can beat state censorship? Of course she wouldn’t. Her fake, limited rejection of censorship is so narrow that it is prudishly restricted to criticizing specific countries such as North Korea, and never her home country. If faced with vitriolic anti-American cinema on par with The Interview, she’d be quick to disavow any violent themes in it and reject such literature as not screen-worthy. In fact, if the situation were thus reversed, she would probably be the one actively calling for state censorship and state paranoia to protect “society”, because she’d get all protective and patriotic for her own country, just like a good North Korean. In the minds of these patriots, the laws and sensibilities of other countries are always dismissed as irrational and paranoid, but these people still tell us that a bunch of equally irrational US laws and sensibilities are sacred and have to be upheld to protect us. For instance, respect for the person of the US President should be maintained to a certain extent in media coverage and he should not be subjected to assassination calls and death threats.

This new low in hypocrisy is even more evident in some of the reactions that followed alleged North Korean threats to America, in which the North Koreans are labelled “terrorists” in comment threads for their threatening words about war and retaliation, but a US movie encouraging the death of Kim Jong-Un is explained as a legitimate artistic venture. How so? Why should one side be accused of terrorism for non-lethal literature such as its threatening words or its cyber-attacks, but the other should be allowed to behave even more menacingly by producing an influential artistic work encouraging terrorism and packaged for circulation among millions of people?

If we compare the two societies, I think the US in no position to even begin to call North Korea closed or paranoid, or overly protective of its head of state. At best, the United States is just as protective of its own president and his family as North Korea is of its dictatorial leader and his family. Don’t accuse others of terror while promoting terror, if you don’t want to be exposed as a hypocrite and a bigot.

US officials have been recently exposed torturing and molesting hundreds of suspects simply because they cooked up fantasies about murdering US leaders and attacking the US regime, but Hollywood producers are such buffoons and political illiterates that they think they have to travel all the way to North Korea to find the nearest paranoid and unstable regime. If they are so open to ridiculing the state and its censorship, why don’t they make a movie encouraging the US President to be beheaded by ISIS radicals in revenge for the events in Iraq, and his family taken hostage and killed? How about a movie about current Hollywood executives being publicly flogged and murdered in a violent revolution against their fat, flabby, overindulgent lifestyles in America? Because those guys wouldn’t get offended or start a lawsuit, would they? In sum, the hypocrisy of these cowards is unbearable, and there’s no kind way to discredit them.

If you found my arguments convoluted or you still don’t get it, here it is in short. The Interview is just equivalent to an ISIS movie about beheading Barack Obama. If you don’t understand the North Korean reaction, try to envisage that and imagine what kind of mind would find comedy in it. Such a production, were it vulnerable to cyber protests, would certainly be hacked, taken down and opposed by the hypersensitive American regime at all costs, but that fact won’t stop American pundits form accusing North Korea of being too touchy after it harshly objected to a movie about the murder of its own head of state.

For the record, I strongly oppose making a movie obsessed with the idea of any head of state being assassinated, whether that is real (as in Saddam Hussein or Qaddafi’s death) or in a fictional form such as this movie The Interview. It’s simply barbaric, and it invalidates whatever political statements people were trying to promote via such media. I criticize US policy, yet I never want to see Barack Obama be humiliated or have his head chopped off, real or fictional. However, I invite people who do find entertainment value in barbaric productions mocking the assassination of state figures to publish and circulate such a video clip to prove they are as unafraid of censorship as they claim to be.


By Harry J. Bentham HJB Signature and stamp

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus