Ironically, as I left the movie theater this evening after watching “The Interview,” I was briefly interviewed by a reporter for one of Portland’s local television stations. I do not know if my dry and hopefully witty comments will make the evening news, but it was nice to be able to speak, albeit briefly, about the fact that a major reason why I watched that particular film today was because of the subtle effect that controversy has on encouraging people to stand up for the underdog. The fact that a nation would get upset about an R-rated comedy (which, with its nudity, gratuitous cartoon violence, and frequent references to drug and alcohol, certainly earned its rating) which was obviously meant as an ironic and humorous film designed to make fun of America’s shallow and vapid celebrity culture and the CIA’s history of exotic means of trying to assassinate foreign leaders as much as North Korea’s immensely secretive and brutal dictatorship. One quality of dictatorships in general, though, is that they lack the ability to poke fun of themselves .
Despite the fact that this movie does not really intend on being taken seriously, there are a few things about this movie that provide a great deal of worthy insight. One of them is the seemingly limitless appetite that Americans have for tawdry gossip about sexuality, a point that is made in interviews with Eminem that make fun of his sexuality, or one that deals with an alleged account of bestiality involving a famous actor. These mock interviews for a fictional interview show are not designed to be taken seriously, but they also poke fun of an audience that, by watching a fairly tawdry R-rated comedy itself would be the butt of a joke about the moral decadence of Americans, and fairly so. One of the more pointed critiques that this film makes, perhaps unintentionally so, is the way that people who are insecure about their sexuality tend to use promiscuity as a way of covering for that insecurity, even if it leads them into trouble, and that trouble is something this book examines thoughtfully.
One of the threads that appears over and over again, often enough to be noticed by an observant filmgoer, is the fact that seemingly everyone of consequence has an agenda in this movie. The film uses somewhat inelegant language to describe this, as characters (especially the two main characters, but also plenty of others) tell themselves and others about their frustrations and mistrust about being used. The agendas in this film are unusually complicated, as some characters seem more motivated by their longings for love and approval, while others have motives that are political, and many of the characters have a wide variety of mixed motives. Particularly noteworthy, and handled well, is the way that the characters are prone to being manipulated by others because of their fairly obvious longings and vulnerabilities, but that those who consider themselves to be masters of manipulating others prove to be just as easily manipulated as the less clever they hold in contempt. This film is full of ironies, and they are rich and deliberate ones.
This film will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It is certainly crude, designed for those who are mature in age but not necessarily in mindset (this may include me). Yet it is not the sort of film that should upset anyone, since it is basically a cousin to “Tropic Thunder” in its approach to pampered celebrities dealing with real life peril in the form of people trying to bite off fingers, flirtatious women who are an obvious lure to immense peril, and much larger stakes than anyone seems aware of. So, is this a film that deserves international outcry? No, it is just that some people cannot realize that Hollywood specializes in making films that poke fun of everything, and sometimes dictators in nations get caught up as just one more thing to make fun of, just along with everything and everyone else. If one cannot stand being laughed at, one should probably not be an easy target like a totalitarian dictator of a nation that cannot even feed its own citizens. Generally competence helps one avoid the most painful forms of ridicule, at least.
 See, for example: