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Sony cashing in on Kim Jong-un

This is a movie producer’s wildest dream. Make it look like you pissed off one of the most popular “love-to-hate” dictators in the world because you did a comic movie about having him assassinated by two United States late night talk show clowns.

Have it leaked that his country, North Korea, hacked into the Sony mainframe to sabotage the release of the film, The Interview. Then have it that the North Koreans are threatening the lives of those who go see the movie. Forget that it seems extremely dubious that North Korea, notorious for its lack of internet capability, employs world class experts in cyber warfare to do silly things like hack a movie. People still dubious? Well, then blame it on the Chinese. The other implausibility is, quite simply, so what if some North Korean contractor hacked in? Sony is still able to screen The Interview. So the hype amounts to … just hype.

Movie poster for 'The Interview'
Movie poster for ‘The Interview’

As if any country should have to worry about yet another comedy about their leader, godlike or otherwise. Spoofs abound of Kim Jong-un. On Facebook there is a transvestite makeover of Kim doing the rounds where he is referred to as #supremefatfuck and another where he is saying “OH SHIT” as he looks through his binoculars. A close-up of the image he sees through his binoculars is Chuck Norris, solo in combat gear and bandana, brandishing a machete and coming for Kim through the bush. Okay, perhaps a movie is a more serious level of spoof than a mere image, but why on earth should any country be bothered with yet another American two-digit IQ comedy that burlesques its leader?

As a result of all the hype, even US President Barack Obama has uttered threatening, vague remarks: “We will respond proportionally and we will respond in a place and time and manner that we choose”. At this point, the directors at Sony and their PR must have rubbed their hands in glee as they debated when it was most opportune to release The Interview.

Without even having to trawl through the internet, we know the tin-pot conspiracies are proliferating about the US setting up the whole Sony hack plot to launch some kind of Sons of Anarchy on steroids retaliation against North Korea for daring to threaten … innocent, popcorn-guzzling US movie-goers. Oh yeah, baby, (to be said like Austin Powers) that’s the way to go. Cash in on supreme badass Kim Jong-un and boost the US dollar through another Great War Effort.

Think of all the 9/11 conspiracy theories that claim a deep US-led operation engineered that disaster. There is the difficulty of believing in a cloak and dagger machination behind the Twin Towers collapsing and killing countless Americans; it was a rather complex and difficult butcher’s project to orchestrate just to create the weak motivation for the Iraq invasion.

Few of us understand the engineering and architectural issues involved in leading to the towers collapsing and the way they collapsed. But, it seems, many people, at a subconscious level, are not able to let go of the idea of an Insidious Inside Job. With the aid of the incessant whisperings and instant global gossip of the internet, the 9/11 conspiracy theories haunt people with more than a whiff of plausible possibility.

By comparison, we have the small cost of going after the bad guys over a crummy, dumbass comedy. There is no loss of lives and this conspiracy theory around The Interview is much more plausible. The result for Sony? Incalculable visibility for their movie.

Then there are the reports of internet outages in North Korea. Yes, in a country where people are not able to use the internet, impossible as that may seem. Perfect timing for Sony. Again, even at a subconscious level, one is haunted by the strong possibility of “Cold War” orchestration.

Remember The Blairwitch Project? Long before it was screened, the production team behind that cult movie seeded, then exploited, a lot of internet hype about discovering film footage depicting “real” dead bodies of missing people found in the forests, and that The Blairwitch Project is “actually”, beneath the dark amateur film surface, a reality picture show gone horribly wrong. The hype worked. Massively so. Blairwitch turned into a cult phenomenon based on the human psyche being primed for horror, and that was before the movie was ever screened. The culprit for that priming? The most powerful subconscious manipulator the world has ever known – the internet.

In those days, the internet was still a new toy. Its huge impact on consciousness and its ability to manipulate outcomes were vastly underestimated. It still is underrated and its effects on our Lebenswelt and thought processes are unquantifiable. Because of the net, images and reports of North Korea having an internet outage are rife and within hours fears rippled through Facebook and other social media that a cyber-war may even become real, nuclear war.

Then sudden relief: Note the BBC headline’s wording, “Sony Hack: North Korea back online after Internet outage”. Automatically the viewer is made to believe that the North Korean internet outage (if there was one) is some insidious Western response to the apparent hack into Sony … and thus a mere movie becomes one of the most trended items of the year. This engineering of trends becomes more puzzling when we think again, hang on, apparently there is no internet available in North Korea (except for some access to an intranet). We just have vague, meaningless “reports” like “Some analysts say the country’s web access was cut entirely for a time [sic]”. Which brings us back to where we started … why would North Korea be so paranoid about a movie released in the West when its own people cannot possibly view it online anyway?

Of course, now, ta dah! Sony has “decided” to release the movie on … Christmas Day! What greater headline could Sony ask for than global splashes like “The Interview: Obama hails move to screen North Korea film”. To what extent this entire hullabaloo has been engineered will be quite a debate. Merry Christmas, Sony. You had a long sit in Santa’s lap.