Hi everyone! After a lengthy holiday from blogging, I have decided to get the blog up and going again. I have some news to announce here very soon. In the meantime, I hope your holidays have been happy.
Returning my blog
This last week, media sources have bombarded us with headlines surrounding the scheduled Christmas day release of the movie, The Interview. Now, for those who have lived under a rock and are unaware of this story, knowing the basic gist of the movie's plot should clue you in a little to circumstances supposedly lying behind the controversy. Here is the blurb (From IMDB): "Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapoport run the celebrity tabloid show "Skylark Tonight." When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission."
As one might expect from any real-life obese dictator of a starving and enslaved nation, the real-life Kim Jong-un is none too happy about being killed off fictitiously by Hollywood. The movie's existence has become the target of angst from the NK government, who have demanded the film be boycotted. Likewise, Sony Pictures has been defended by Barrack Obama, and NK's vehement reaction used as a symbol of overreaching censorship by the Obama administration. (Yes, the same administration that previously blamed a Youtube video for the bombing of a U.S. embassy). Then there are the major theater corporations which, in crediting potential retaliation from NK, have announced they are limiting public showings of The Interview.
Just like with a lot of contemporary controversies, there are side-issues involved here that the media isn't reporting on oh so eagerly, like the fact that the theater industry's on-the-surface act censorship has proved quite inspirational for movie-goers who also happen to be fans of freedom of speech. For despite the ethical and security issues involved whenever NK is pissed off, thousands of folks who otherwise wouldn't have bought a theater ticket for The Interview, are pre-ordering it via instant streaming, download and video rentals. All thanks to the censorship, or as I suspect, the dubiously convenient censorship the movie has garnered.
However this supposed controversy plays out, I'm not ashamed to admit I am very reluctant to see The Interview. Not because I support censorship; not because I feel a fictional onscreen death of a callous dictator offends my sense of morality; not because I fear NK's retaliation. But I have seen a few James Franco-Seth Rogen films, and while I actually think both actors are very talented and they both possess a real bent for humor, I am just not eager to see them paired-up again. Why? Because the films these two typically make together inevitably contain a tedious amount of profanity (emphasis on the tedious, not the profanity).
Anyone that knows me knows I am hardly a prude. I have no problem with profanity in movies, books or even everyday language. However, when it is used to the point of being painfully repetitious, I do have a major problem. When watching a movie I do not want to hear F*ck, f*ck, f*ckety, f*ck, f*ck in practically every line of dialog. I don't talk like this. Most people I know don't talk like this. Profanity has its place; and I feel the most realistic way to use profanity in a film comes in scenes when the audience can identity with why the character is faced with a realistic motivation to utter that profanity. Using a term like Motherf*cker twenty times in the course of a single five-minute scene is simply not identifiable for me.. Such excess insults the intelligence of the movie watcher, it cheapens characterization and it bogs down plot. A script that excessively relies on profanity also shows a screenwriter's lack of imagination and laziness. Sure, 23 minutes of f*ck out of a 70-minute film might cut down on the director's need for coherent, intelligent plot, but some of us like coherent, intelligent plot.
A good example of excessive profanity compromising a movie's integrity can be seen in the 1995 film Casino, written by Nicolas Pileggi and directed by Martin Scorsese. According to movie trivia scorers, the word fuck was used 422 times during the course of this 178-minute long film. While I found the plot intriguing, the assault of profanity also left me with a headache; not to mention bored during the most heated of the onscreen hissy fits. The movies of writer/producer Kevin Smith likewise suffer from profanity that bores me to tears (though to be fair, the plots of his films are generally not my cup of tea anyway). Then there are the films of Quinton Tarrentino, who seems to grow more infatuated with utterances of vulgarity with every movie he makes.
With The Interview, I know that Seth Rogen does not only perform in it, he helped develop the storyline. As I've said, I like Rogen and I like Franco. but put these two together for a film and well, if you've seen Pineapple Express or This Is The End, then you know the kind of dialog one can expect: a deluge of profanity. And ok, with Pineapple Express with its fast-paced comedic plot and stoner characters, the deluges worked. Again, the profanity was lushly non-stop in This Is The End. Yet, bearing in mind that the film's characters faced the Biblical "Rapture" and a buttload of human-eating demons, the deluge of profanity level was believable in context.
All the same, I'm a little worn out on movies using F*ck, f*ck, f*ckety f*ck, f*ck in every other line of dialog. Just as importantly, I am leery about helping any movie studio cash in on what has the appearance of commercialized censorship. Censorship sucks, and capitalizing on censorship just as wrong. So I have a feeling it might a long, long time before I even think about watching The Interview.
author of Submissive and Taming the Rose