Politics and entertainment have a history of combining together but usually in the form of a former start stepping into the political limelight. What isn’t so usual is a single movie becoming the talking point of international political debate – which is exactly what “The Interview” has become.
The controversy surrounding The Interview has been going on for some time but it has now escalated into a full on matter of international diplomacy as the US and North Korea butt heads over how the release of the film will be handled and if it will be released at all.
After Sony this week announce d that they would not be releasing the film in theatres following cyber attacks reportedly directed by North Korea, the US president himself has waded into the debate and criticised Sony for withdrawing the film.
According to Reuters, President Barack Obama has vowed to respond to the devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures that he blamed on North Korea, and scolded the Hollywood studio for caving in to what he described as a foreign dictator imposing censorship in America.
Obama said the cyberattack caused a lot of damage to Sony but the company should not have let itself be intimidated into halting the public release of “The Interview,” a lampoon portraying the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“We will respond,” Obama told an end-of-year news conference. “We’ll respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”
What makes this case so specific is that this is the first time that the US has gone so far as to directly accuse another country of launching cyber attacks and the incident has seen relations between the two countries become increasingly strained.
While the US is adamant that the attack came from North Korea, over in North Korea, the claims are very different.
According to Reuters, a North Korean diplomat at the United Nations in New York said Pyongyang had nothing to do with the cyberattack. “DPRK (North Korea) is not part of this,” the diplomat told Reuters.
Obama said he wished that Sony had spoken to him first before yanking the movie, suggesting it could set a bad precedent. “I think they made a mistake,” he said.
“We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” he said. “Because if somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don’t like, or news reports that they don’t like.”