Why “The Interview” Is Not Worth Your Time

by Jimmy Johnson, Truthout | Film Review –

The Interview
dir. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen
112 min | 2014
Columbia Pictures, L Star Capital, Point Grey Pictures

the interview

(Image: Columbia Pictures)

Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s latest filmThe Interview was bound to get some attention even before its distributor, Sony, was hacked and the debacle with alleged threats from North Korea (DPRK) ensued. A film this racist would get attention regardless. Unfortunately, due to the publicity around the Sony hack, many more people will likely be subjected to The Interview and the attention won’t be as negative as it deserves. What follows includes spoilers if you believe something already rotten can be spoiled.

The Interview opens with an othering scene of a young North Korean girl singing about destroying the United States before an audience of dignitaries prior to a missile launch. The othering completes with a series of short news clips about North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) being the next Hitler before introducing Dave Skylark (James Franco).

We meet Skylark as a tabloid news host interviewing Eminem in a scene that kicks off nearly incessant gay jokes. Skylark is the kind of guy with no qualms about breaking into caricatured Black Vernacular English as “comedy,” nor any idea about why anyone would have such qualms. Pressured by producer Aaron Rapaport (co-director Seth Rogen) to do serious journalism, Skylark comes up with the idea of interviewing Kim Jong-un as a bridge. Rapaport will get serious news and Skylark will get sensational ratings.

Rapaport is the sober foil to Skylark’s unfiltered and hyper stream of consciousness. He’s shamed by a fellow journalism school grad who now works for “60 Minutes.” Rapaport’s sophistication is juxtaposed next to Skylark’s visceral racism and sexism. But they both do caricatured Korean accents. They both immediately ogle Agent Lacey’s (Lizzy Caplan) breasts. They both constantly make gay jokes. While Skylark is the dense one, the juxtaposition between him and Rapaport is one of tone only. So at the end when Skylark says to a puppy, “Guess who’s going home to America where they don’t eat doggies,” and Rapaport doesn’t let him finish, he is not disapproving, but merely hurrying.

Sook (Diane Bang) and the North Koreans are introduced with a soundtrack only slightly less ominous than Darth Vader’s “Imperial March” in Star Wars, just in case they weren’t sufficiently othered earlier. When we meet Sook, she is immediately objectified in the familiar way of cinema, with a cut pan up her body. The body pan opens up women’s bodies to the male gaze and orients, or given the aggressive and regressive dragon lady stereotyping in this case orientalizes, viewers to objects instead of characters.

Lacey then recruits Rapaport and Skylark in a plot to assassinate Kim. Skylark is convinced to go along with the plan by Lacey’s breasts, bangs and glasses (which are as close as The Interview gets to Lacey’s character development). Any justifications are secondary to Skylark’s pursuit of sex. The rationalizations eventually put forward are concentration camps, a hungry population, a nuclear threat and totalitarianism. These are never explored – nor are their reflections in the United States – except for Kim quickly stumping Skylark near the film’s climax with a retort about the US mass incarceration regime.

read more…..   http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/28251-why-the-interview-is-not-worth-your-time


Reprinted with permission from Truthout