Let us all be fair to North Korea about at least this one thing: a movie about killing a current world leader is, if nothing else, in bad taste. Granted: the Kim regime - which has lasted since 1948, including the reigns of Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, & Kim Jong-un - is a ruthless dictatorship. They are so extreme that they have often alienated even Communist allies. Such a regime ought to be the target of investigative journalism and well-made political drama. But The Interview is a comedy. Taking a serious subject (North Korean human rights violations) and dealing with it in an extremist way (killing the leader) yet taking the whole thing lightly? I can understand why North Korea is upset.
But their response has been unacceptable. I do not blame SONY or the movie theater chains that chose not to show the movie. They have to make sound business decisions, and threats of corporate sabotage & terrorism certainly hamper their profit potential. But North Korea's response shows that they have absolutely no concept of the freedoms of speech & expression, and it shows that they believe they can bully the international community like they bully their own people. This week, it looks like they are right about that. Not only has The Interview been cancelled (though, a later release date is possible & a VOD & DVD release is certain), but FOX has also pulled the plug on the drama Pyongyang (Steve Carell, Gore Verbinski), the kind of movie that needs to be made to show the atrocities of North Korea.
What should Franco & Rogen do about all this? Ironically, their movie is getting far more buzz than it ever would have (or deserves? We'll have to see it to be sure) without the cancellation. VOD & DVD sales will be through-the-roof. Creatively, I think that Franco & Rogen should parlay this experience into two movies:
(1) In the immediate future, they should make a serious movie. This will be new territory for Rogen, but his part in it doesn't have to be huge. The serious drama should be a full-frontal-assault on North Korea's human rights record. In fact, this project could be a documentary, if they choose. We have to show North Korea that freedom of speech is a cornerstone of democracy, and they have no power to restrict American democracy.
(2) Five years (or so) down the road, Rogen & Franco should make a movie about the making of & the controversy surrounding The Interview. They could pull this off as a comedy, if it is well-written. A movie about making a movie. Think Tropic Thunder, though it really happened.
They could also do a lot to get ahead of the controversy - and be great defenders of the First Amendment & creative freedom - to spearhead a crowd-sourcing effort to fund the movie Pyongyang & save it from cancellation death.