OK, we have no doubt that The Interview is an abominably bad movie, and it is very irksome to have to agree with David Cameron, who is grandstanding about how Sony's pulling of the film is a threat to freedom of expression. Hollywood actors have been making similar noises. And of course this is being played up by the UK's right-wing The Telegraph and imperial mouthpiece Voice of America. But they happen to be correct. The fact that the movie is (probably—we won't be able to see it to tell for ourselves) ugly propaganda doesn't mitigate the fact that Sony's capitulation sets a very bad precedent. (Communities Digital News recalls the 1988 controversy over right-wing Christian threats against The Last Temptation of Christ.) Note that the supression is so complete that The Interview's official website is down, redirecting to the Sony Pictures homepage, and the trailer has been removed from YouTube. All this due to a bunch of almost certainly empty if bombastic ("Remember the 11th of September 2001") threats from an Orwellianly named and probably functionally non-existent cell, the "Guardians of Peace." Homeland Security said it has no evidence to suggest these threats would be carried out, reports Variety. But Sony folded like the proverbial house of cards, while issuing a statement complaining of being "the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault." This assault also includes the hack of Sony's computers, which US officials do say has been tracked to North Korea. (AP) But the notion that the DPRK has a network of sleeper cells across the USA… well, it sounds like a bad movie.
And there is an ironic parallel to this censorious threatening that is getting comparatively little media play. The left-opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP) was on Dec. 18 ordered banned by South Korea's Constitutional Court for supporting North Korea's regime. In an utterly Orwellian statement, Chief Judge Park Han-chul said "there was an urgent need to remove the threat posed by the party to the basic order of democracy." The case was launched two months after key party members were arrested for allegedly plotting a pro-Pyongyang rebellion to overthrow the Seoul government in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula. Both UPP supporters and anti-UPP conservatives gathered outside the court to await the decision, in a tense scene.
OK, we have no doubt that the UPP has abominably bad politics, and it is very irksome to have to agree with Kim Jong-un. But way to prove the superiority of Western democracy, South Korea! By banning a political party on the basis of what it advocates!
Actually, to be fair, we haven't heard that Kim has weighed in on the UPP affair at all, and South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported two years ago that the party did actually make some statements opposing the North's nuclear weapons program and human rights situation in response to charges of being pro-DPRK. So if the UPP really isn't the Pyongyang vehicle being portrayed, the court's decision is doubly damning for the Republic of Korea's "democracy."
We hate to say it, but the "Guardians of Peace" and the South Korean Constitutional Court are birds of a feather… Do you think either side grasps the irony? We asked the same question in the mishegoss over the Red Dawn remake last year…