The Hollywood Reporter – After Sony canceled the release of the North Korea assassination comedy The Interview, a Texas theater said it would swap the film with Paramount’s 2004 film Team America: World Police for one free screening.
“We’re just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation,” James Wallace, creative manager and programmer at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s Dallas/Fort Worth location, tells The Hollywood Reporter.
American flags and other patriotic items will be given out by theater employees, Wallace says.
The plot of Team America, co-written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, revolves around Kim Jong Il, the father of current North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The posters promoting the R-rated movie in 2004 included the tagline, “Putting the ‘F’ Back in Freedom.”
In a note on its website, the theater added: “THAT is how true American heroes will be celebrating this year, but if you want to let the terrorists win…well, that’s your prerogative.”
Sometimes in our darkest moments heroes emerge, and this is one of those times. God bless James Wallace and the fine outstanding staff of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. I think it’s fair to say that never before in history has anyone stood in a place called Alamo and done so much for the cause of freedom as these people are.
All seriousness aside, I’ll concede that ‘The Interview’ is a dumb idea for a movie. It’s hard to imagine that so many people involved in green-lighting this thing could’ve thought they’d do a movie where assassinating a psychotic and very non-fictional despot is played as a joke and not expect they’d upset a few sensitive folks. Not to mention, from the trailer it seemed like a movie I wouldn’t watch if I was sick in bed and it was on free cable (where it was likely headed inside of about six months from the looks of it).
But since when do we ever let any foreign power dictate to us what we can and cannot laugh at? The founding fathers put freedom of speech in the first amendment — not the eleventh, not in a footnote and not in a letter less read director’s cut of the constitution. It’s the first right we have and it’s meant to cover everything from the freedom to the government to go pee up a rope to your right to watch a bad, ill conceived Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy. Even ‘Pineapple Express’ (though I think that’s sort of a gray area) and once studios start caving into demands made by shadowy hackers halfway around the globe, where does it end? If some group of radicals decides that obnoxious man-children are an affront to their god, are we going to start pulling every Adam Sandler movie?
And, while I’m a little prejudiced since I’ve been running my mouth on stand up stages for 20 years or so, comedy should get even more slack than regular speech. Satire, when it’s done right, can stick its thumb in the eye of evil better than any other form of expression. In the 1930s, Charlie Chaplin did a parody of Hitler in ‘The Great Dictator.’ ‘The Three Stooges’ did likewise in the ones where Moe played Emperor Hailstone of Moronica with a swastika made out of snakes. If the Nazis had threatened to blow up a theater that showed them, we would’ve dared them to try and kicked their goosestepping asses all the way back to Berlin if they had.
Like I said, ‘The Interview’ is no great loss, but the precedent being set here is, and I shudder to think what creative expression is going to look like from here on in. So thanks to Mr. Wallace and those heroes at the Alamo Drafthouse for at least trying to stand their ground. America … F-yeah.