What The Interview and “Je Suis Charlie” Really Mean
The Interview started as an idea penned by Vancouver’s Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg back in the early 2000’s. It surrounded a joking idea of what would happen if a journalist was required to assassinate a world leader. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was originally chosen but following his death the project was halted until Kim Jong-un resumed power in 2011. Realizing their age proximity to the infamously reserved leader, they were able to develop a controversially satirical script that has made considerable waves in society.
The film was slated for release on October 10th, 2014 being heavily advertised everywhere. Commencing back in June and July, North Korea began to respond, stating that, “making and releasing a film that portrays an attack on our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated.” On August 7th, 2014, it was decided that the release date be pushed until December 24th. On November 24th, Sony was notoriously hacked with fingers pointing at North Korea, although they have denied any involvement. However, on December 8th, a demand was made that the so-called “movie of terrorism” be pulled from release, widely referring to The Interview. On December 16th, stars Rogen and James Franco cancelled all public appearances and Sony pulled all television advertising. Theaters reconsidered releasing the film to ensure the safety of their viewers and staff. 331 theaters across the United States chose to show the film on December 25th, earning over a $1 million on its opening day. It was released online through purchase on YouTube on December 24th and quickly spread to all file-sharing websites. It soon after became available on iTunes, as well. It became the top-selling YouTube and Google Play film, earning an astounding $15 million to date from online sales and rentals alone and a collective $36 million to date. On January 24th, 2015, Netflix announced its plans to stream the movie, opening it up to an even broader audience.
Intrigued to see what all of the hype was about, I purchased the movie for rent through YouTube the day it became available. The film is about everything I imagined it would be: utterly vapid, particularly simpleminded and brimming with your run-of-the-mill toilet humor that Rogen and Franco tend to bring to the table. I would compare it to the likes of Rogen’s 2014 comedy with Franco’s younger brother, Dave, Neighbors. Despite it’s cinematic inanity, Interview served its unintentional purpose of stirring the world into a state of frenzy and uncertainty. My personal opinions aside, it is simply, a funny movie. It takes a competent comedian to approach the likes of satire and they do succeed on many levels.
In a move that presaged the events of the Charlie Hebdo massacre on January 7th, 2015, we were reminded that taking a stand for freedom of speech is becoming increasingly important in society. The famed Je Suis Charlie movement has sparked an international following rallying support for the likes of freedom of speech. The very act of making The Interview was a stand for freedom of speech in North America and–although release was dampened through threats–represented the values we need to be continually instilling in our citizens, regardless of their message. We can look at the events happening in Paris as a wakeup call that we cannot stand down on our rights. We have the freedom to be heard and the freedom to speak our minds, no matter how cliché it may sound. The simple act of me writing this article represents my individual right to freedom of speech and that is something that I, nor the Collingwood community, can be robbed of.
By: Emily Larman