My Esoteric's Thoughts On "The Interview" [255*1]

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I Was Going To Watch "The Interview" Anyway ...

... BECAUSE I THOUGHT THE TRAILERS LOOKED FUNNY; I wasn't disappointed. But then, you have to be a tiny bit odd to like that kind of humor in any case; but all the notoriety regarding the cyber war that erupted over its content made it just that much more interesting. I can see why the "Great Leader" was pissed ... good!

For those who don't know, The Interview is a 2014 movie produced by Columbia Pictures (owned by Sony) starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. Seth Rogen plays Aaron Rapoport who produces a popular, but vacuous entertainment news show called Skylark Tonight, hosted by Dave Skylark (James Franco). During a celebration of the shows 1000th episode Aaron gets bummed out by a college friend who produces at a "real" news show, 60 Minutes, when he is reminded that his work isn't really relevant.

Dave finds out that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un loves his show and using that as a hook, talks Aaron into scheduling and interview with Un to add authenticity to their show; Un agrees to this. The CIA wants to take advantage of this and convinces the undaring duo to assassinate Un with a rather ingenious plot.

(ASIDE - If you see the movie, pay close attention to the CIA agent's sidekick. a very big guy who, if I remember right, doesn't have a line. Well, picture him coming through the door, filling it with his bulk, of your small, but long, store as you sit in the back doing some work. Then he slowly walks down the isle toward you, suit and all, stops and says, I am so-and-so from the FBI! At that point, I put my hands out and say I confess; I am not sure what to, but seemed right at the time. Of course, I didn't do that, but I sure felt like it, this guy was so imposing. I was so impressed by this scene that I still have this very vivid memory and it happened 35 years ago; but as soon as I saw this CIA agent, the scene immediately played out in my mind!)

Well, off they went to kill Un, and the story unfolds from there on how they went about trying to do that, I won't tell you if they did or didn't in the end (for those who don't know). I expected to see a total lampoon on North Korea and specifically Kim Jong-un. It was silly and stupid, sure, it was supposed to be, but it didn't go over the top ... too often (occasionally Franco got too carried away for my tastes); but it wasn't inane. Once you bought into the unbelievable plot and joined their reality, it became almost believable.

The story even had the expected love interest; in this case between Aaron and his North Korean media handler Sook (Diana Bang). There was a potential one between the CIA agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) and Dave Skylark, but I am not sure that panned out.

The comedy itself ranged far and wide. For most of the movie, Seth Rogen played straight man to James Franco's wild man. Both men had visions of grandeur, but Franco's was in never-never land and didn't mind 1) letting other people know it and 2) wanting other people to tag along, even if he had to drag them. I wondered if Skylark would ever shut-up (which is as close to inane is as the movie gets) and only did so when the scene switched to Rapoport, which wasn't often enough for me. Nevertheless, taken together, my wife had quite a few chuckles as well as several outright guffaws (and my wife is not a fan of this kind of humor).

The surprise came in the interaction between James Skylark and Kim Jong-un (Randall Park). Most of the movie centered around this dialog leading up to the actual interview. Their conversation covered a wide-ranging number of issues, both serious and hilarious, about what motivates people to do good and bad things. That made the The Interview insightful, which wasn't expected but very welcome. Their antics broached an equally broad range of very funny situations from G-rated to almost X-rated scenes. While the dialog of all the main actors was at times very raunchy (so be prepared) it was lightly sprinkled throughout the movie and was barely noticeable; unless you are easily offended.

I doubt the movie was written to deliver a strong moral condemnation of a brutal megalomaniac. If so, it missed its point, but it did deliver a few "moral of the stories" if you look only a little bit closely. That is just an extra, however; I went to see the movie to laugh at Kim Jong-un, and I did ... a lot.

And Then There Was The Pre-Emptive Cyber War Attack By North Korea

AT LEAST THAT IS WHAT THE FBI SAYS. And I don't really care if the FBI is right or not, although I suspect they are. In the greater scheme of things, in my opinion, it doesn't matter who conducted the attack on Sony, and then threatened the theaters who were going to show it. As far as I am concerned, who ever orchestrated the aggression won the skirmish, they made fools of Corporate America and left the Obama administration once again looking weak (fortunately, Obama condemned Sony's and the theater chain's actions and retaliated against North Korea in short order for a change).

Huge weaknesses were exposed in private cyber security (as if we didn't know that already) and in the softness of the Corporate spine. I am sorry Sony lost money from the release of films in the can and similar harm from that portion of the attack, but to have the lack of ethics which exist at the executive level exposed was a silver lining to a very black cloud; one wishes there were thousands of whistleblowers making such things public on a daily basis.

As bad as Sony acted, who by the way recouped themselves a bit by releasing the film anyway, the theater chains were downright despicable; cowardly even. One threat from an unknown source and they crapped in their pants, laid down, and died. And I doubt that it was over concern for their customers either, it is well known corporate giants don't give a hoot about us; it is my opinion they were afraid of getting hacked themselves and having their dirty little secrets aired on public. I bet there was a lot of disk cleaning going on during December in corporate offices around the world.

Having said all of that, the public should not get bent out of shape from all of this ... yet. We all know how to deal with most terrorist threats, like the Boston Marathon bombing, which attack our liberty - stand up to it; don't let it cowl you. There are a rare few such as the 9/11 attack where a free people are inclined to throw the baby out with the bathwater in reaction Carried to the extreme, you end up like Russia where the people, by choice, give up their personal liberty for the security the state provides. Some provisions of the Patriot Act in reaction to 9/11, as well as the Bush Administration's rendition/torture program are steps in that direction.

So to could be the reaction to this cyber terrorist attack, if we are not careful. If the American public pulls an Ebola, like the theater owners did, over this attack and push Congress to do something about it, those now in power would be very willing to comply and begin limiting your liberty on the Internet just as they did with your cellphones and e-mails.


Post Script

THERE IS A SOMEWHAT BRIGHT LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, by the way, it just costs a lot at the moment, and even this is not perfect. It has to do with one of my other favorite subjects, quantum mechanics. Embedded in QM theory are mechanisms for communications that simply cannot be hacked ... if implemented perfectly; I used to understand how, but now will have to listen to the lectures again. At the time of these lectures, a few years ago, this was cutting edge technology but I googled it last year and discovered some private companies making prototypes. I have no idea what DARPA may be up to, but it seems to me they ought to have working models by now. But since the White House and the Defense Department are still getting hacked, I guess they aren't working very well yet. Nevertheless, it is on its way. Here is a link of more information. http://www.wired.com/2013/06/quantum-cryptography-hack/

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