Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Free Speech is Stupid

So, as you might know, this blog was started because it's part of my creative writing course. With that said, my fellow classmates also have blogs. So, this post is more or less coming as a response to Brendan Stovall's post about a little movie called the Interview.

His post can be found here...


Regarding his post, he seems to make a big sweeping generalization on...well, I guess America, but he narrows it down to big corporations and Millennials, so I guess I can talk about those things but I think what really happened here is that people just started pointing fingers at each other on who's fault it was.

I think it needs to be clarified that the big theater chains were the ones who yanked The Interview out of theaters and it caused the producers to think that no one was willing to show the movie so it had a brief cancellation. But it's not like anybody wanted to stop this movie from being released(except maybe the corporate theaters. but maybe it wasn't that they were afraid of people getting killed, just that it might happen in their theater). Even Obama said that it was a mistake to stop the movie from being shown. Of course, this caused the producers to get defensive and they had to clarify that the whole thing wasn't by choice.

Anyways, eventually, people got to see the movie and even independent theaters were willing to show the movie(so, naturally, there still weren't any theaters in Oklahoma showing the damn movie D:<) and I think that should mark the end of this whole thing.

But, now there's a whole charade of "free speech" surrounding this movie, and I really wish it wasn't for technical reasons and even opinionated reasons that I have.

First, watching The Interview is not a defiant act of free speech.

There wasn't any kind of ban from the government on this movie. Like I said, even Obama said that it was a mistake for this movie to get cancelled. Freakin' Obama said that. I honestly think the discussion should end right there. Corporations pulled the movie out of theaters and the freakin' leader of this country was on the side of the people who wanted to see it. It's not like people had to suddenly find a way to pirate this movie in order to see it because this movie was banned from being seen in the US.

If that were the case, then, yes, this is an issue of free speech.

But since this an issue of privately owned theater chains deciding not to show a movie, this is a completely different issue at hand. And, hell, this isn't the first time some theaters have decided to not show a movie. Most of the time, it's not really because of the theater disagreed with message but mostly because they didn't really see any money in it. But, then again, the fastest way to not get your movie on a wide release level is to give it that box-office killer of a rating. The NC-17.

However, some of these movies are seen, just not by very many people. Hell, even The Interview was already seen by a select few before the whole fiasco of the cancellation thing. But, for the rest of these movies, a lot of people aren't even aware of their existence. Some of these movies only get seen at film festivals and only a few retail stores would have these movies. Luckily, since Netflix is a thing, these movies are way more accessible than they use to be. Still, how often do you hear about or get to know these movies? Even me, the guy with his own movie blog, has to hear about it from different online critics and, even then, it can still be a challenge to finally get to see these movies.

There was a time in film history where movies were under a code of what they could show and what they couldn't show. Hey, isn't that an issue of free speech? Actually, yeah, but it didn't come from any sort of government action...it came from the people. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, a lot of "moral, up righteous guardians" were shocked and offended. The code that came along, due to the outcry of those "wonderful" people, didn't come from any sort of government action, it came from the studios themselves. 

Isn't that strange? It seems like whenever there is an outcry for "free speech," it's never used as a way to fight against officials who are blocking them out, but it's certainly used as a way to shut others down.

2nd, involving the more personal reasons about my thoughts on the whole Interview thing, is that this movie just doesn't flat out deserve the hype surrounding it, because, honestly, this movie is kind dumb.

So, let me clarify that I'm glad this movie finally got released and that I did, in fact, enjoy watching it. I think I planned on reviewing this movie, but the sad thing about this movie is that there really isn't a lot to talk about besides the fact that it had a troubled release.

If you want to know how I felt about this movie, this guy sums it up pretty well.


"The Interview has become a geopolitical lightning-rod the viewing of which has been cast by some as a righteous stand for Free Speech... which I suppose only makes sense in an era where deciding to "like" a certain post makes an alarming number of people decide they're Martin Luther King."

I kind of had a feeling the movie would turn out this way because the trailers, while funny, didn't look like it was going for that much and the early reviews were kind of "meh".

So, what's my problem here? Well, the fact is that this is literally one of the least challenging movies to come out, especially if you live in the US. This movie strokes the ego of America and, the fact that people can now start declaring this movie as a defiant piece of artwork, it'll make anybody who watches this movie feel good about themselves so they don't really have to think about anything.

Seriously, ask yourself, did you feel like you gained a greater understanding about the world around you after watching this movie? Did it challenge you to think in any sort of way? Hell, did you even get mad about what this movie had to say and your name happens to not be Kim Jong-un? Yeah, that's what I thought.

If there's any sort of label I'd put on Millennials and its generation, I think the word "Ironic" would be more than sufficient. Yeah, of course, we all know those guys who watch movies, TV shows, or listen to songs "ironically", IE they're not genuinely enjoying that sort of piece of work, they just laughing at it then with it(see movies like The Room, Birdemic, and Sharknado[blegh] and songs like Mass Text and Gangum Style). But the whole irony thing seems to be running into a steep subconscious in this cultural psyche. Since this is the Facebook age, there have been a lot of videos (Particularly ones from Upworthy) that just stroke the egos of this generation. It's not there to challenge or help people think differently about the world. These videos are there to confirm how people may already feel and make them feel good about it. The irony to this? Free speech is being used in a way to not even challenge people.

Is The Interview the movie form of that kind of thing I'm describing? Not exactly, but this culture certainly made this movie that way. This movie wasn't like Inglourious Basterds, a movie that was a deep, hard reflection on WWII and our attitudes towards that time period, nor was it a movie that sought to right a wrong from the US's past, like Django Unchained, a movie that actually made people mad from its own country.

But The Interview? It's just a dopey comedy that Seth Rogen and James Franco decided to have fun with. There isn't really even a message in the movie other than that "North Korea is kind of a shitty place to live in". Gee, thanks for the info!

Like I said, I liked the movie, I thought it was funny, and I'm glad that I got to see it. I wouldn't exactly be mad if WWIII actually did happen over a movie...but if it happened with The Interview, I would have been a little ticked.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Sean. My post was just a satirical rant to make fun of a lot of people. I suppose that may have been lost on some. Anyhow, I agree with pretty much everything you've said here.