North Korea's despotic regime is arguably the world's most brutal. It enriches dynastic leader Kim Jong Un and his political elite while the people who revere him as a god-king face deadly food shortages, a total lack of freedom and the ever-present threat of dying in one of the country's notorious prison camps.
But in Pyongyang's dust-up with a major Hollywood studio, some readers say North Korea has a point.
Reacting to the announcement that Sony Pictures is canceling the Christmas Day release of "The Interview" -- a comedy that depicts a fictional assassination plot against Kim -- after a group thought to be linked to North Korea threatened terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11 against theaters showing the offending film, most readers who have sent us letters say Kim's regime is right to be miffed. They say Sony, chastened by a devastating hack revealing a trove of information that embarrassed some of Hollywood's most elite, was right to pull a movie that surely would have drawn the ire of Americans had it made been overseas about a plot against our president.
Like every decision it makes, Sony's action was no doubt driven by financial considerations -- perhaps the prospect of holiday moviegoers scared away from theaters completely prompted it to cut its losses and scrap "The Interview." Bottom-line concerns aside, making ghoulish threats against America is something of a pastime in Pyongyang (go ahead and poke around Google for more examples -- they're plentiful). We live in a world where a belligerent North Korea is a fact of life for as long as Kim's regime can survive. Bellicose threats to reign death and mayhem on the United States might unnerve Americans, but in North Korea, they most likely mean it's just Wednesday (or Monday, or Friday).
Here are several letters sent to us by readers.
Jennie Fahn of Los Angeles says some disturbed assault-weapon owner might have seen the terrorism threat as an invitation:
Sony made the correct decision, and here's why.
I am not a conservative person. I love satire. But let's put the shoe on the other foot for a moment. Imagine if a major North Korean movie studio (were there to be one) created a film where there was a really funny plot to kill President Obama. Somehow, I think the CIA might be all over this. And a bunch of politicians would have their hairballs in a wad about the cultural insensitivity of the un-funniness of any mention of actually assassinating a real president.
Here's another thing: We live in a country where speech is free, but we live in a world with terrorists. So think twice before you make fun of someone else's esteemed ruler. There are lines that you have to draw in the name of safety and international sensitivity.
But here's the real reason I would not have walked into a theater playing "The Interview." We also live in a country where there's a nut-job with an assault rifle hidden in every other closet, just looking for an excuse. And the lovely Sony hackers wrote the invitation to the party. So now, Nut-Job is thinking, "Oh, I'm going to that party, and I'm bringing the champagne!" Some unworthy non-human is going to use this whole scenario as an excuse for violent inclinations.
I didn't let the hackers dictate what movie I saw. I have a sneaking suspicion they would not be capable of anything in actual reality. I let my common sense versus the inane gun-toting mentally deficient dictate what movies I watch instead. Makes perfect sense to me.
And as for Sony, it made the right decision. The only thing that will be lost is money. It'll have to get used to that.
Vista, Calif., resident Diane Scholfield asks how Americans might respond to a foreign film fictionalizing the assassination of our president:
Let's say that the Chinese movie industry made a comedy about Chinese journalists hired to assassinate President Obama. How many Americans would get the joke, and how many would wonder if China was about to attack? I'm guessing more of the latter, even if Chinese movie executives acted surprised at the furor and said, “Hey, chill out; it's just a movie!”
It is long past time for the American film industry to realize its products have an immense influence on billions of people around the globe, and what tickles the funny bone of an American junior high student is taken literally in other cultures.
The assassination of a world leader caused World War I. The suggestion that a sitting world leader be assassinated -- even if it is not meant to be taken seriously -- is far too provocative for a movie plot.
William Choslovsky of Chicago says we shouldn't cower in response to despots:
Sony's decision to halt release of "The Interview" makes me wonder, "Really, bullies win"?
Let's review: This is a movie. Actually, it is a comedy -- a parody mocking North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Not taking the joke, the North Koreans have apparently launched a cyberattack on Sony (which they deny) and have now threatened harm to anyone who attends the movie.
Did I mention we are talking about a movie here?
And Sony in turn responds by shutting it down, just as the dictator wants. This is the definition of crazy. Since when do we reward bullies?
All that said, perhaps the media coverage will make the movie the highest grossing home rental or on-demand movie of all time. Even so, it sets a very bad precedent.
Reseda resident David Fritz says the movie's plot is in poor taste:
While I don't condone any sort of terrorist-type threats, I can't help but think of that old adage, "What goes around comes around."
The entertainment industry has now reached further into the bowels of bad taste than ever, and the chickens have come home to roost. Sony will finally pay the price for bankrolling anything and everything that will make it a buck, regardless of the subject matter.
I personally couldn't care less about North Korea, but this isn't just a movie poking fun at someone; it makes light of an assassination attempt on a real, living world leader. Can you imagine the uproar if someone made a similar "comedy" about an assassination plot against one of our presidents? How about on the life of some slimy executive at Sony who treated people like garbage?
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