When I first heard about the Interview, someone posted the trailer on Facebook.
I remember wondering, "Why haven't I heard of this?" as I watched the red-band version in awe and wonder. It was over the top, offensive, and I enjoyed it for its pure entertainment factor. I thought nothing of reposting the trailer, which I quickly did on one of my Facebook pages. I shared that post on my personal page as well.
For a few days, no one seemed to care. No one commented, no one shared, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
And then, North Korea found out.
Over the past few months, and more increasingly as the release date approached, Sony felt enormous pressure as emails were hacked, documents leaked online, and reputations were sullied. Rumors said North Korea was behind it all, but -- no surprise, here -- they neither confirmed nor denied it.
Websites and news stations discussed and dissected private communiques, creating a worst-case scenario for Sony employees, past and present. That resulted in a picture of Angelina Jolie and Sony Entertainment Co-Chair Amy Pascal in the worst hug ever after emails between Pascal and producer Scott Rudin showed what was going on behind the scenes. Rudin apologized, saying it was all a joke, and Pascal found herself in Donald Sterling territory when some of the things she said about President Obama came to light.
So, North Korea won. The Interview was pulled, and theaters all over the world have begun pulling Team America as well.
(Why Team America is still in theaters is news to me, but that's another story.)
And though I wasn't so disappointed I had to write an article about it -- I did see something that finally pushed me to throw in my two pennies. It was a Facebook post that lambasted the movie and everyone upset about its cancellation. The post went on to remind people there were bigger problems and then closed with two hashtags: #checkyourself and #yourprivilege.
Now, I'm not above putting my Facebook friends on blast when I disagree with them -- and it's not meant out of spite. We all have opinions, and she's welcome to have it as much as I'm welcome to check myself and my privilege -- which I did.
After doing so, I couldn't have disagreed more with her position.
As a Korean-born American who recently spent two years working in Seoul -- a city that's about 35 miles away from North Korea and within shelling distance -- I wanted to see the Interview in theaters, and I wanted others to watch it too.
Not just because it's a movie about my darkest fantasies or because of the awesome chemistry between comic duo Seth Rogen and James Franco that the trailer only gives me the faintest glimpse of.
No, I wanted people to see the Interview because we need more people talking about North Korea on our terms. And by that, I mean in a fashion that isn't a reaction to something they've just done on the news. By now, some of us know of North Korea as that crazy country with its barrage of threats, its crazy dictators, and the human-rights abuses -- and the topic pops up every now and again when North Korea puts it out there.
The Interview, to me, was something new, and it was something dangerous to the North Korean government. For the first time in perhaps a long time, North Korea wasn't the big bad wolf. When it lashed out in response with cyber attacks, it proved it was sensitive and susceptible to injury. The Interview, a silly comedy no one should be taking seriously, got people talking about North Korea and dispelled the aura of a country that has tried desperately hard to force people to respect it.
And unfortunately, respect has been given. "You will not make a movie that jokes about killing a dictator responsible for putting his own citizens in concentration camps." Those are the same camps you can see on Google Maps, by the way.
Earlier this year, I had the fortune to meet Gerry Duggan, the current writer on the Deadpool comic. I asked him about a Deadpool issue that was set in North Korea, and I was pleasantly surprised by his responses.
To sum up what he told me -- not enough people know what's going on in North Korea, and if he could spread the word in a Deadpool comic, then it was worth it.
I told him how honored I was that he was fighting the good fight. I sent him a link to LiNK -- Liberty in North Korea -- a group dedicated to spreading the message about the lives being lost in that country.
And now, here we are, watching as Hollywood scrambles and figures out what lessons to learn. I'm afraid the lessons won't be beneficial to them nor us. Simply put, a country has basically scared a company into not making money. In more complex terms, a country used terror to force a global corporate entity to stop its operations at the risk of being taken over.
Look, I'm not into violence, assassinations, or pushing a rhetoric of war -- and The Interview as a comedy did what comedies are supposed to do: Talk about things people are too afraid to talk about. Comedy forces the subject, pushes the boundaries, and sometimes it goes too far.
But when we look back at The Interview and see how things went down, what will we write about it -- that it was North Korea that stepped way over its bounds in censoring a movie or that we were the ones who ultimately bowed? It's my opinion that the discussion about North Korea's suffering people hasn't gone far enough, and I'm discouraged at the efficiency and ability of the country's government to maintain silence, ensuring years of poverty and starvation for its people.