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Fact or Fiction

Thanks to the first Fact or Fiction column, certain members of the Drunk Monkeys staff will now only speak to certain other members of the Drunk Monkeys staff through an impenetrable wall of sadomasochistic attorneys. Our staff pot lucks/capture the flag marathon weekends will never be the same.

Other than that, everyone had a pretty good time. So much fun was had with giving aFACT or FICTION response to three talking points related to cinema, we’ve decided to do it again. We’re not sure how this one is going to go over, but bets are being taken on who is going to wind up sobbing first.

The smart money is on my gentle Canadian spirit being my undoing.

Gabriel Ricard,

Film Editor 

FACT or FICTION: Christopher Nolan is the best filmmaker of his generation.

Gabriel Ricard: FICTION, although that opinion might be simply because he’s not my personal favorite. If I try to take a broader view of things, I can see the case for this opinion being made.

I can name several contemporary filmmakers I enjoy more, but it’s hard to deny Nolan’s unique talents, or his phenomenal box office/critical track record. I think he’s right up there, although I do kind of feel like Inception was overhyped and overblown, and that his Batman movies are not without individual and collective flaws. Very few filmmakers are getting the kind of money Nolan is getting to pretty much make the kinds of movies he seems to like to make. There is no question that he is making the movies that will be held up as classics in twenty years. Nolan is making the true Hollywood epics of our time, and he is managing to do that without getting lost in an ocean of digital effects and emerging tools in the filmmaking technology. In terms of combining spectacle with something that actually feels like it has a soul, Nolan is the man to a considerable majority of people at this moment in time. Very few filmmakers right now are making films as large in budget and story as he is. Fewer still have his track record.

Once again, he’s not my favorite filmmaker, and he’s getting closer and closer to laughable self-indulgence, but I can’t argue with the facts as I see them. It’s FICTION in my opinion, but I wonder how many people are going to agree with me.

Ryan Roach: Oh. No. No, no no. FICTION.

Let’s take a few qualities that make for a good movie. Visual artistry. Nolan is quite great at that. You might even say it’s his best skill, he can paint a beautiful picture. But better than PT Anderson, or Wes Anderson, Alfonso Cuaron, or even JJ Abrams? No. Compelling characters. Most of his characters tend to fall flat. Any Coen Brothers movie would easily outclass him there. Great dialogue. Again, the Coen Brothers or Quentin Tarantino have him beat handily. Throw Joss Whedon in there, too. Is Nolan even in the top ten, with contemporaries like Tarantino, Bigelow, Coen Brothers, Fincher, either Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Guillermo del Toro?  I don’t think so.

Yes, it’s great that Nolan has eschewed things like 3D and held onto film over digital. It’s admirable that he is responsible for a lot of blockbusters that are entirely original works. And Memento is an unqualified masterpiece. But then, so is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Spike Jonze knows how to create compelling characters, too.

Lawrence Von Haelstrom: Here comes good ol’ Christopher Nolan. How I hate him.

That’s an exaggeration, of course. I appreciate his craftsmanship, his preference for film stock and practical effects, and the attentive care that is obvious in all of his films. He just doesn’t make movies that appeal to me in a way that I appreciate movies. His films are little puzzle boxes–sometimes the puzzles are tidily solved, sometimes they’re not. But, regardless, the questions asked by his films hardly matter beyond their own asking. Take the ending of Inception–is the whole thing a dream or not? Who knows? Who cares? Fans may take to the internet with theories and screenshots but, ultimately, either answer reveals nothing of meaning. Compare that to a seemingly similar ambiguity in Blade Runner–is Decker a human or a replicant? A question also ambiguous and unanswerable, but it’s asking turns the viewer’s thoughts outward. Blade Runner’s ambiguity leads to contemplation about the essence of humanity. Inception’s makes you think about Inception.

His films confuse seriousness with intelligence. Keep the violence level up, the color scheme muted, and self-awareness at a minimum, and maybe viewers won’t notice they’re watching a movie about a guy fighting crime in a bat suit. His most successful film, The Dark Knight, stands out thanks to the anarchic performance of Heath Ledger. The one element not entirely held under Nolan’s tight control is what makes it so interesting. The moment The Joker uses some hand sanitizer before he blows up the hospital–that’s the sort of random humor missing from most of Nolan’s work. And that lack of humor is why his films are so tedious.

At or around the same age as Christopher Nolan is Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, and I’m sure countless others if only I had the inclination to continue looking at Wikipedia. He is a successful director, for sure, but, best of his generation? That’s a bunch of fan FICTION.

Matthew Guerruckey: I’d like to just dismiss this out of hand, but I can’t. While I think that Nolan is, by a long measure, the most overrated director working today, I can’t deny that he is remarkably talented. My problem with Nolan is not that his works show a lack of talent, it’s that they show a lack of energy. Each of Nolan’s films has been more thuddingly self-important than the last, with Inception standing as a particularly humorless drudge. Without the electric unpredictability of Heath Ledger’s Joker, evenThe Dark Knight would be no fun at all (and almost a full hour too long).

And yet. If not Nolan–then who? The idea of “generations” complicates this question. There are certain groups of filmmakers who are easily linked: The late 70’s upstarts, Coppola and Scorsese and their blockbuster buddies Spielberg and Lucas; or the Gen-X indie crew that spawned Tarantino, Rodriguez, and Kevin Smith. But if we’re looking for a generation to group Nolan with, things become a little less cohesive. Guys like P.T. Anderson and David O. Russell fit in more easily with the Gen-X auteurs. And where to fit in a director like David Fincher–who worked in the same era as Tarantino, but was always more consciously mainstream?

Nolan’s contemporaries are more properly guys like Darren Aronofsky, who launched his career with his indie Pi around the same time that Nolan made his low-budget debut,Following. Aronofsky at his best is a far superior filmmaker to Nolan–I don’t think Nolan’s even capable of the emotional devastation of Requiem for a Dream. But Aronofsky is far too inconsistent. I love the themes and wonder of The Fountain, but at its core, it’s a pretty dumb movie. Likewise, The Wrestler works chiefly because of Mickey Rourke’s performance, not anything that Aronofsky’s doing. In a head-to-head match, Nolan wins.

An interesting case could be made for any of the talented Mexican filmmakers who have emerged over the past decade, but as visionary as the best work from Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo del Toro, or Alejandro González Iñárritu may be, each director still lacks Nolan’s consistency.

Part of the problem in finding a challenger to Nolan’s claim is the climate in which he finds himself. The auteurs of yesterday have been replaced by big-budget popcorn pushers like Peter Jackson and Zack Snyder. Jackson brought real emotional depth to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but each successive effort, from King Kong to The Lovely Bones has been more overwrought and maudlin than the next. Zack Snyder, meanwhile, just makes garbage movies. Garbage, garbage movies. But those movies make money, and studios are too scared to take risks in this still-precarious economic climate.

Of Nolan’s contemporaries, only Wes Anderson has exhibited similar staying power and ambition, outdoing Nolan’s bombast with his own insistent, twee brilliance. Anderson’s had a spotty career, but his best work (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and this year’sThe Grand Budapest Hotel) create worlds that even Nolan’s upside-down sidewalks can’t compete with.

So, thankfully,  this is FICTION, but it’s closer to fact than it should be.

Scott WaldynFICTION.

Christopher Nolan is great. He’s a dutiful student of Cinema with a keen appetite for harkening back to the glory years of American Cinema, when Hollywood was drenched in auteurs pushing the film studios to their limits. Though it appears we’re in a bit of a drought when it comes to auteurs, arguably heightening the popularity of Nolan, this doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the best of his generation. Paul Thomas Anderson is pretty solid. Edgar Wright likes to toe the limits of what we’ve seen on the big screen. And there are a plethora of other masterful creators who have abandoned Hollywood altogether, preferring to culture the Golden Age of television we’re experiencing now. Just ask Vince Gilligan over at AMC.

Taras David Butrej: FICTION. Christopher Nolan is a talented director who excels at settings and plots but comes nowhere close to great as far as dialog or getting the best out of his actors. Joss Whedon gets better acting out of his cast and writes much better dialog. Edgar Wright’s films have better camerawork and more interesting characters. Jon Favreau is edgier and more willing to take on smaller budget, stranger films. Need I go on? 

FACT or FICTION: The concept of the cult film as you understand it is dead in this day and age.

GR: FICTION. Midnight movies aren’t quite as prevalent as they once were, nor are drive-ins, and I also kinda doubt VHS is going to make a comeback, but the cult film concept is most certainly not dead. It’s just that the cults are getting very, very specific. Things like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video are making it possible for people to discover and appreciate an incredible range of obscure movies. I’m seeing little fandoms pop up for all kinds of movies that were either commercial failures in their time, critical failures, or a combination of the two. I’m seeing established cult classics continue to endure and appeal to new generations. I’m seeing Hollywood attempt to create and market films directly to the cult movie mentality, and failing at it miserably. The attention now being paid to “fandoms” on places like Tumblr is largely dominated by things like Sherlock or The Avengers. But there are also people who love that one horror movie that has less than a thousand fans worldwide. There are people who write blog posts and share things on social media for that movie they love that no one else around them seems to enjoy quite as much. And they find people on social networking sites. And that movie has a small, passionate following that no one ever anticipated the movie having.

However you define cult movies (according to most interpretations of what qualifies a film for cult status, It’s A Wonderful Life technically counts, so just keep that in mind) the reputation of a film being built up by word of mouth is the heart and soul of any personal definition of this concept. And that has not changed. People continue to share their favorites with one another. Yes, that often enough goes to the movies with the biggest advertising budgets, but it’s also going to other films. People are sharing unsuccessful films, obscure films, or small films. These conversations are going on all the time, and the result is dozens of dozens of little cults for movies that would have all but disappeared otherwise.

So no, I don’t think the cult movie concept is dead. I just think it has evolved, and become extremely complex.

RR: FICTION. Now that anyone can pick up a camcorder and start filming, the concept of a cult film is now more possible than ever. There are probably a hundred movies that came out this year that you’ve never heard of, and half of them have a rabid and terrifying fan base.

LVH: FICTION. I never knew what a cult film was to begin with. Certainly, though if I were to make a list of my ten favorite movies, 90% of those could be considered a cult classic by someone. As someone who takes an interest in things quirky, cult cinema is home turf. But as far as what a cult film is exactly, I don’t know. The Big Lebowski is considered a cult film. But it’s a major studio film made by highly regarded directors with A-list stars. It’s not obscure by any measure. But, whatever, if I don’t try to belabor the distinction, I guess cult can be defined as, “Weird shit that some people like.”

It’s much easier to find weird shit than it used to be. You used to have to live in a city large enough to support a non-Blockbuster video store, or, even better, a movie theater with a repertory program. You had to read the right kinds of magazines and newsletters to find out about new things. You had to have the right kind of friends also interested in weird shit.  Now, you just need an internet.

Is there still weird shit being made? Yes. Do some people like weird shit? Yes. Is cult film dead? Right now there’s an American suburban teenager way into pre-Amitabh Bachnan Bollywood, he’s about to log onto r/preamitabhbachnanbollywood and discover a whole world of people even more into it than he is. He might even make a friend or two. That’s cult, and it is, in fact, not dead.

MG: FICTION. And not just fiction, but BULLSHIT. No matter how many different platforms there are for distributing content, no matter how “easy” it is to get viral marketing buzz (oh, Jesus, I felt 200 years old typing that sentence), there will always be work that slips in below the radar and has to wait until it can be discovered by a rabid fanbase.

And a cult movie is not built from rarity alone–sometimes a movie’s just too weird to fit into the mainstream, and it goes underground, finds it audience, and reemerges a champion. Look at Pootie Tang, a movie released over a decade ago to zero acclaim, and now, because of the rise of Louis CK, it’s considered a cult classic. There will always be bizarre early work like that floating around. Birdman is destined for cult status–it’s consciously bizarre and it’s divided critics. In another twenty years, its defenders will have elevated it to something larger than the sum of its parts.

The bottom line is, if a movie holds real meaning for even one person, that one person is going to do all they can to spread the word. And, eventually, they’ll find one other person who loves it. And then another. And then another. Or, as another cult classic put it: 

SW: FICTION. It’s not dead; it’s evolved. The Internet banished video rental stores to the Forbidden Zone, and in the process, expanded our access to films and shorts, as well as dividing audiences into deeper and deeper entrenched niches. We’ve never had it better, and “cult films” have only multiplied, catering more to niche markets. It’s about identity now. What ethos do you identify with? Where does your own entertainment culture lie? Depending on what you pick, there’s a whole subset of “cult films” catered to your very specific tastes.

TDB: FICTION. Like finding a ‘great film’ it’s just become more difficult to identify and define a new ‘cult classic.’  Direct-to-DVD and so many independent films pop out every week that it may be a giant pain in the ass to find a new cult film but they still exist.

I mean, have you SEEN The Raid: Redemption?  It wasn’t widely released but word of mouth was tremendous.  If you like martial arts you’re almost guaranteed to love this movie.  But show it to someone who isn’t into the genre or doesn’t like foreign films and they’ll probably disappoint you with their reaction.

Since 2000, we’ve been almost lousy with movies that could be defined as cult classics.  From Human Traffic to Slither, almost every genre has a well-regarded movie that seems to have been kept a secret from way too many people.  If we define a cult film as one that didn’t really find its voice until it hit the DVD and VOD market, well shit, there’s going to be more of them nowadays than there ever were. 

FACT or FICTION: The Marx Brothers Are Comedic Geniuses.

GR: The fact that I see examples of their influence in so much of today’s comedy makes this an easy FACT to me. The concept of the ensemble comedy, a group of players using their individual strengths as comedic actors to create something special, owes a great deal to them.

But what I love about the Marx Brothers most of all is how deeply funny their films still are, for the most part. The straight-from-Broadway adaptations are a little creaky now, with musical numbers that aren’t going to be appreciated by everyone. But films like A Night at the Opera? It’s your call to say that’s not one of the funniest movies ever made. I’m just not going to know what in the hell you’re talking about.

RR: FICTION. Why would someone think that? On what basis is this assumed to be true? Let’s take each brother one by one:

First there’s Zeppo, which I think even Marx fans will agree is a total zero, so we won’t even bother with him. 

Then there’s Harpo. Harpo is the silent one. He makes funny faces. He lights stuff on fire. He mugs so much that Jim Carrey is like “hey dude, chill out on the mugging”. He also breaks shit and hurts people. Random, innocent people for no damn reason at all. Why is any of this funny to anyone?

And then there’s Chico. His shtick is that he’s a dumb foreigner and he mishears things.  That’s the laziest writing in the world. A character who mishears things. And that’s Chico’s whole fucking deal in every fucking movie. The movies are filled with him hearing “dog” and mistaking it for “log”. Because that’s what passes as a joke.

Which brings us to Groucho. Now Groucho is tricky because Groucho is actually … a little bit … funny. Or at least his delivery is funny. And he’s the only brother to tell actual, proper jokes. Sometimes.  “I shot an elephant in my pajamas. What he was doing in my pajamas, I’ll never know”. That’s cute. That’s a joke that’s worth a smile, especially if your eight year old nephew tells it. But often—very often—there’s no actual joke. It’s just Groucho’s very good patter that suggests a joke, when one isn’t there.

I can’t illustrate it any better than this: In A Night at the Opera, Groucho is on a boat. He goes to his room, which is extremely small.  He can barely fit in his giant suitcase next to the bed.  He opens the suitcase, and it turns out, Chico, and Harpo have stowed away. Harpo and Chico beg for food. Groucho says he’ll get them food, but they have to eat and leave quickly, because he has a date in ten minutes.  Then, he tells them to be quiet, because if they’re caught stowing away, they’ll be arrested.  He exits the room, and a waiter is right outside. He orders food.  “Three steaks. Medium done, well done, and over-done.  (Sounds like a joke, but not a joke). And pineapple juice, orange juice, and tomato juice.”

From the room, Chico calls, “And two hardboiled eggs”.

Groucho says, “and two hardboiled eggs.”

Harpo honks his horn.

Groucho says, “make that three hardboiled eggs”.

And then he goes on to order about half a dozen different unfunny things, and after each one, Chico calls “and two hardboiled eggs” and Groucho repeats it and then Harpo honks his horn and Groucho says “make that three hardboiled eggs”.  I mean, that’s the fucking joke.  The actual fucking joke is “make that three hardboiled eggs”.  Oh, and then on the last one?!  Harpo honks his horn a whole bunch of times, like for about twenty seconds, while Groucho rolls his eyes and then finally it stops and then

Groucho says, “Make that twelve hardboiled eggs.”

THAT’S THE JOKE. Escalation from three to twelve is the actual joke. Christ.

LVH: It is a FACT that the Marx Brothers are comedic geniuses. They are not only the cornerstone of American film comedy, they are fundamental to the history of American humor. It is also a fact that humor is incredibly subjective, and if you don’t find the Marx Brothers funny, nothing I say will suddenly make you say, “Oh, now I get it. Haha!” A foundation of comedy is rhythm, and it is undeniable that the rhythm of the Marx Brothers is not the same as comedy now. The dance music of the 1930s sounds nothing like the dance music of 2014 either.

But what makes them funny? Irreverence. Outward Irreverence towards class, social structures, and institutions. Inward irreverence toward their mediums of stage and film. Mark Evanier ably illustrates this by explaining the passport bit from Monkey Business. In this bit they are each trying to get through customs using Maurice Chevalier’s passport, and:

“The Italian guy’s going to tell them he’s Maurice Chevalier. And after that doesn’t work, the rude guy with the mustache and no French accent whatsoever is going to tell them he’s Maurice Chevalier. Even the guy who doesn’t talk is going to claim to be Maurice Chevalier…and he’s really got a surefire plan. First, he’ll bolster his chances of getting through by throwing around all the papers on the Customs Agents’ table like a maniac. That will surely make the officials more likely to believe he’s Maurice Chevalier. Then he’ll mime to a record, assuming they won’t notice the phonograph under his coat, nor wonder about the sudden appearance of musical accompaniment from nowhere. And then to really convince them, he’ll mess up all their papers again and rubber stamp the customs agent’s bald head. If that doesn’t prove he’s Maurice Chevalier, nothing will.”

This is an extreme level of bizarreness. And, if put to a different rhythm—say, slower with more awkward pauses and self-aware glances—it is something that could be mistaken for a Comedy Bang Bang skit.

MG: Yeah, this is FACT, but trust me, I do have sympathies for the other side. Comedy has to be finely realized to age well, and each era has its own sensibilities. The Marx Brothers come out a broad, silly vaudeville tradition, so there’s lots of stage humor that plays well before an audience. There’s also a reliance on musical humor (a tradition that’s that’s been almost entirely lost since the end of World War II), and lots, and lots (and lots) of puns. Some good, most not-so-good.

But what really makes the Marx Brothers work is Groucho. In a time of safe comedy, Groucho was dangerous. Groucho is a slimey, leering, sadistic, argumentative jackass. There wasn’t anything else like him onscreen at the time, and there are very few performers since who have managed to pull off that sort of mean streak while still being so endearing. Harpo was an exceptional physical comedian, but it’s Groucho that makes these films classics.

SW: FACT. The Marx Brothers are the comedic team that combined multiple elements of comedy into singular performances, thus hitting the funny bone of several different people at any given time. They were shotgun comedy, layering their jokes (and their acts), so there was a bit for everybody. The style The Marx Brothers followed provided the basis for many comedians and comedy teams to follow, even to this day. Jokes, too.

Simply put, you want to know how to make people laugh? Watch The Marx Brothers. The rest are just newer rings on the tree they planted.

TDB: FACT. This one is hard to justify because I don’t feel like I need to justify it.  The Three Stooges were and are very popular for their wacky violence and pratfalls, but the Marx Brothers were better at everything else.  Their dialog, comedic timing, willingness to work with running jokes and actual invention of many long-standing comedic elements should be enough to prove that without the Marx Brothers comedy would not be as good as it is today.

If you don’t believe me, just check out this one skit they invented.  The lil’ old mirror gag: 

FACT or FICTION: Sony was right to cancel The Interview. 

GR: Do what you will with Homeland Security’s assertion that there is no terrorist threat that they are aware of, in regards to the release of The Interview. It’s a moot point, I guess. Sony is no longer releasing the film in theaters. If we get the movie at all, it will probably be in VoD form. I have a hard time believing that Sony is going to eat a forty-five million dollar shit sandwich.

In the end, this is so much fucking FICTION, I’m a little dizzy. We won’t give large portions of our citizenry the right to speak out against things like corporate greed and police brutality, but we will fold when a group of terrorists threaten violence for the release of a movie? I don’t care what you think of the work of Seth Rogen or James Franco. Any thoughts you have about The Interview itself is totally fucking irrelevant. This sets a frightening fucking precedent. It establishes a firm case for the notion that if you don’t like something, simply threaten terrorist actions. If you can get the right people to believe you’re serious, you can destroy art.

Because The Interview is art, if only by default. Sony shelving the film sends a grim message that fear can indeed win out. Fear can dictate how we live our lives. Any corporation that is concerned about public backlash can now say “Well, Sony did it.” And we won’t argue. And the concept of freedom of speech, even if it is all just an illusion, will become a little dimmer. That sounds like a tall order of despair for something like a movie studio refusing to release a movie. I also suspect that Sony is less scared of terrorists blowing up a theater, than they are of more embarrassing emails and conversations being released. Regardless of their true motivation, this is pitiful fucking cowardice on an astonishing level. It is the kind of thing that makes me feel as though we are getting ever close to a world of exaggerated social and political insanity on a level normally associated with cartoons like The Simpsons or Family Guy.

RR: Pure and utter FICTION. Even as a suggestion, it is vile. The DHS has stated that there is “no credible threat” to our nation’s theatres on Christmas Day. North Korea has been threatening to blow us up for decades. It’s what they do. The proper response is the make another Team America movie, not roll over dead. Make no mistake: Sony is not worried about an AMC in Chicago meeting an untimely end. It’s worried about even more embarrassing emails being released. News flash, Sony: They’re going to release everything, anyway. We’re going to get further confirmation that Alex Trebek is a preening diva, as if anyone who watched Jeopardy didn’t already know that.

Not all of this is Sony’s fault, though. We all fucked up. I read the salacious stuff about Angelina Jolie and all the rest of it, too. We all did. And we shouldn’t have.  When the asshole hackers released naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of them, you didn’t find the pics on Gawker or TMZ or any of the usual smear merchants like that. We should’ve treated this leaks the exact same way and made them impossible to find anywhere other than the bowels of 4chan or Redditt. But we didn’t, so here we are, with Sony quaking in its boots, fearful of more costly embarrassment, and willing to literally sacrifice art for commerce. It’s time we fight internet with internet. Wither thou, Anonymous? I know you don’t normally come to the aid of large corporations, but today #WeAreAllSony. Take these fuckers out.

LVH: We always like to think of film in terms of art, but, of course, big budget film is a business. Surely, I would like to stand on a First Amendment bulwark and shout about America and not bowing to terror and all that, but, you know, this is a James Franco movie we’re talking about. (If only his version of As I Lay Dying featured Kim Jong Un, then maybe that would have never seen the light of day.)

James Franco and Seth Rogen had every right to make this movie, Sony had every right to fund and market and profit from this movie. And movie theaters have the right not to show it. And movie goers have the right not to go see it. And Sony has the right to act all bold and cocky about this movie, and then they too have the right to meekly drop its support of the film and eat their monetary losses.

Movies are a business. Make no mistake that this decision was all about money. Someone ran the numbers and decided that the certain loss they would take in dropping this movie was less than the risk of the potential losses if more threats came to pass. This is their right and that’s a FACT.

MG: Look, I get it. I understand that by yanking The Interview from theaters, Sony has capitulated to the demands of a rogue government, something that, as Americans, we’re not supposed to do. I also get the “slippery slope” argument that there’s nothing to stop other fringe groups from threatening violence over future movies that they’re personally offended by. What Sony has done is willingly censor an artist’s work, something that, in theory, I’m against. But this time, I think it’s the right call.

There was really no other decision for Sony to make. By releasing the movie to theaters, they could be putting hundreds of lives at risk. Not just the lives of people who are watching The Interview, but other people watching other movies in the same theaters. This hack has been so widespread that even the personal information of every person who buys a ticket to The Interview could be at risk. Or this could all be bullshit. The point is, we don’t know. As a company, there’s no way that Sony takes that risk.

But Sony quite literally has no other choice, as every major theater chain has pulled out, and the earlier email and script leaks have left the company in an already precarious public relations position. If even one person had died because Sony had gone ahead with the release, the company might have been destroyed.

“Hey, how was that new James Franco movie?”

“Well, fifty people died because of it, but there were some pretty great dick jokes.”

So for everyone who’s so pissed off at Sony right now, keep in mind that it’s an easy call to make when it’s not your call. If you made the opposite call, and if an attack did happen because of a movie–because of this fucking movie–how would that sit with you?

There may soon be a time and a reason to take on North Korea in a direct way, but this isn’t the time, and this isn’t the battle. At this time, in this fight, Sony did the right thing. This is a FACT.

SW: FICTION. This North Korean hacker group, Guardians of Peace, already threw Sony through the ringer in the past month. The worst that could happen to Sony and its employees has already happened, and as a company, Sony is trying to deal with it. Halting the release of a movie because a threat of violence was made (that hasn’t been confirmed as credible by official sources), is giving these bastards what they want. It’s another punch in the gut, another blow to an already damaged Sony. Releasing this movie could be the unifying action we need to come together as a people to express our free will, independence, and strength in the face of cowardly dictators and their computer-jockey cronies. We can’t back down every time someone uses harsh language. We need to stand tall and eye these cretins down. If theaters are too afraid to run it, that’s on them, but Sony could gain some much needed credit if they decided to “leak” The Interview on the web, letting us, as individuals, spread this comedy around like the plague.

TDB: In short, this is FICTION.  I’ll freely admit that I’m not an insider and I have no idea what Sony and the State Department dug up, but unless there was a credible threat of violence I can’t see why Sony decided to cancel the debut.  They received so much free publicity that you can bet every ‘America! Fuck Yeah!’-minded citizen would have paid cold, hard cash just to thumb their noses at Kim Jong Un.

Throughout film’s history there have been many, many films that were discredited or banned by other nations.  A Serbian Film was outright disowned by Serbia.  There are movies that are still banned in England and parts of Europe to this day.  Many countries closely monitor what foreign releases are allowed into their borders.  Yet now someone decided that an imaginary line was crossed, and the company behind the film buckled to a very strange pressure.

We have made fun of, tormented and killed world leaders in film before, from Team America to Hot Shots we have poked fun at caricatures of the powerful.  Borat and the aforementioned A Serbian Film pissed off entire nations.  Yet they were all released.  The studios ignored pressure.

Hell, Theo van Gogh was murdered after creating a short film that offended many Muslims.  Yet that film was made available and the director stood behind his work.

It feels as if Sony has taken the coward’s way out.  Again, I can’t claim to know specifics but there must have been one hell of a reason to turn down the millions in revenue The Interview would have made.  Or maybe it really was so bad Sony used this as an opportunity to pull it from shelves.  I guess we won’t know the truth until it comes out on DVD/illegal streaming.