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Satire, Dictators & the American Way of Life

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Sony has canceled the December 25th release of The Interview, a comedy about two tabloid journalists asked by the United States government to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, in response to what's now been confirmed as a massive hack of the company's computer network. That hack as been followed by threats of violence against Sony employees and theatergoers in any cinema that chooses to show the movie.

Let's call this what it is: North Korea is behind a terror attack on United States soil. There may not have yet been any violence, but over 6,500 current and former employees have violated: their personal email correspondence, their Social Security numbers, their office presentations and even some of their salaries have been exposed in ways they could've never imagined.

Seth Rogen;James Franco

Lots of press has concentrated on the embarrassing issues this data dump has caused for senior management and high-profile Hollywood talent. What happened to those folks is really awful, but many of them get paid enough to be able to withstand the pain.

The vast majority of those 6,500 employees are regular Americans with regular jobs who probably don't make as much as they're worth, just like most people you know. They've managed to get jobs in a highly competitive field, but those jobs don't really come with the kind of long-term security you might find in a different business. They may ultimately work for a Japanese-owned company, but they've got mortgages and kids and credit card debt and bills to pay just like the rest of us and many of them will spend their Christmas holidays worrying about identity theft and whether the loss of revenue from this movie will cost some of them their jobs.

Some of us a Military.com regularly work with Sony employees on both the marketing and editorial sides. We've attended screenings on the Sony lot, shared meals at the studio commissary, attended press events and even visited the set of Sony movie. We know these folks. They're good people and now a foreign power has embarked on a campaign to wreck their lives.

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Is The Interview any good? That really shouldn't play into the equation at this point, but Rogen and Franco have worked together on some funny movies (Pineapple Express, This Is The End) and one great TV series (Freaks & Geeks). There's a picture of Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator at the top of this post to remind everyone that the movies have a long tradition of political satire and that we've never been afraid to make fun of our enemies. he whole point of satire is that it's supposed to piss off its intended target and the whole point of America is that we're the country that lets satirists take shots at whatever targets they choose.

Sony has an excellent track record with military-themed movies. Both Zero Dark Thirty and Fury count as great ones. The Monuments Men was really good and they got into the Bond business when they released Skyfall, one of the best movies in the series. They also make the kind of  straight-to-video military action pictures that I love to write about: Sniper: Legacy and Ice Soldiers may not be up for any nominations this awards season, but they're never boring.

North Korea has been a brutal dictatorship for the last 60+ years but, since the end of the Korean Conflict, we've found ways to avoid direct confrontation until now (unless you want to count Team America: World Police as a direct confrontation). Like previous terror attacks on Americans, the instigators don't believe we have the will to strike back. Let's hope the United States can enlist Japan on a campaign of economic and technological pressure that will bring down their government without testing North Korea's nuclear capabilities.

Back here on the home front: Sony says they have "no plans" to make the movie available, but buy a ticket or a DVD or digital download once The Interview finally becomes available. Better yet, if its R rating doesn't offend your sensibilities, do the exact thing Kim Jong-Un doesn't want you to do: watch it.

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