The Interview, North Korea and Kim Jung Un: Dictators as punch lines

The Interview, North Korea and Kim Jung Un: Dictators as punch lines

Kim Jong-il (left) from Paramount Pictures’ “Team America,” 2004, Kim Jong-il (right) played by Randall Park in “The Interview,” 2014.

WASHINGTON, December 2014 — If North Korea makes good on its threat, America will be in a shooting war with the Hermit Kingdom around the same time the kids are unwrapping their gifts on Christmas morning. That’s the day “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Un promises “merciless countermeasures will be taken” for America’s “act of war.”

On Christmas Day, Sony Pictures will release its film “The Interview,” a comedy starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, who play a T.V. talk-show team who land an interview with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un. Comedy high jinx ensue when the CIA tasks the television duo with “taking out” the North Korean dictator.

But some people lack a sense of humor.

“We can never forgive their explicit terrorist, provocative deed of producing a film whereby they publicly mirrored the aspiration to assassinate our highest political leader in order to decimate the key philosophy of our military and people and get rid of our system,” said a North Korean government spokesman.

In an act that some see as a preemptive attack on the “gangster-like scoundrels” at Sony Pictures, Chinese hackers believed to be working on behalf of North Korea brought down the entertainment company’s email system and computer network.

“[Sony] Staff from coast to coast couldn’t log on to computers or access email, bringing the workday to a crawl. They were reduced to using old-fashioned pen and paper to complete assignments and taking calls on landline telephones. ‘We even fired up our fax machine,’ one person said,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The hackers, calling themselves the GOP (“Guardians of Peace”), also claimed to have stolen compromising information from Sony computer drives, threatening to release said info on the web if their demands are not met.

The fuss raised by Kim Jong-Un and his entourage of sycophants shows that the new communist leader has a thin skin. His father, the late Kim Jong-Il who died in 2011, refrained from saber rattling or responding publicly when Paramount Pictures released the satire “Team America: World Police” in 2004. By the film’s end, the late dictator is shown to be nothing more than a (spoiler alert!) power-mad, sadistic, extraterrestrial roach from the planet Xiron.

In the late 1930s, Dr. Johann von Leers, one of Hitler’s most vehement anti-Semitic propagandists, published his book “The Jews are Watching You,” which contained a Nazi enemies list. Among the names of the world’s prominent Jews was comedian Charlie Chaplin. Though Chaplin was not a Jew, Dr. von Leers categorized the silent-era comedian a “pseudo-Jew.”

Chaplin’s answer to von Leers book was his 1940 classic film “The Great Dictator,” which the film’s narrator describes as “a story of the period between the two World Wars – an interim in which insanity cut loose. Liberty took a nose dive, and humanity was kicked around somewhat.”

A 1940 Associated Press review noted, “Chaplin has said he received no threats as a result of the picture. But he is not looking forward to any extensive foreign distribution.”

“Humor is the weapon of unarmed people,” said Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, “it helps people who are oppressed to smile at the situation that pains them.”

It is fascinating (and humbling) to consider that the least deadly ammunition in the arsenal against the paranoid, dictatorial, weapons-of-mass-destruction possessing, self-described saviors of our world is to make them the punch line of a well-told joke.

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