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December 26, 2014

The Interview: Offensive on so many levels…

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Written by: News Staff
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Having followed the controversy over release of the film “The Interview” for the past week, I decided — against my better judgement and personal preference — to take a peek at the film. Fifteen minutes worth of peek.

Why just 15 minutes? The truth: the film was so offensive on so many levels that I had a hard time imagining why anyone would pay to see it, much less sit through the whole thing.

The premise: Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un.

“The Interview” is a purported to be a comedy. I guess that’s true, at least for some viewers. It pokes fun at how trivial the pursuit of news has become, and how inane many of the purveyors of news have become. It becomes darker when these “newspeople” are recruited as CIA assassins.

The film opens with a young girl singing a bastardized tune — an anthem of sorts — so offensive it bears no repeating. That’s followed by a diatribe against the elderly — equally offensive. That’s followed by a celebrity who “comes out” on a inane shock-TV show, with producers going wild over their “coup…”

That’s when I tuned out. And turned off the set.

Some might see the film as a satire. They may be right. Some might view it as advertised — as comedy. Whether that is true may again be an exercise in perception. The only thing I felt (apart from digust) was that I had just wasted 15 minutes of my precious time.

We all make jokes and share humor in parody, in comedy, in poking fun at ourselves for all kinds of reasons. But in these volatile times of increased political stress, is it really wise to make fun of the fabricated assassination of a world leader — regardless of who that leader is? And while threats of violence have been bandied about (and are always, in our society, possible), is our attention so diverted that we shift focus from the economy, politics, war, and our own civil issues to focus on the vulgar, offensive and fake anthem that opens this movie?

The film makes fun of the celebrity mania that passes for news, or rather, takes our eyes off real news and puts it, well, anywhere else.

The decision to make this film available online on the same day as its theatrical debut has far more interesting business repercussions. But that’s another story.

For now, I think I’ll just have a glass of Egg Nog, turn on “Singing in the Rain” or “White Christmas” and relish the inane antics of Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye or Gene Kelly in these classic movies. I need to wash that small taste of “The Interview” from my mind.

About the Author: Now retired, Christine Anne Piesyk has worked as a film critic for 25 years on print and broadcast media.

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