It seems every other post on Facebook is a reaction to the probably god-awful Seth Rogan “comedy” “The Interview” being yanked from distribution in the wake of the Sony Pictures hack. Despite a number of security experts casting doubt on the official story—that the North Korean government, upset at the portrayal of Kim Jong-un’s assassination in the film, is the perpetrator—the usual bandwagon social media outrage has come close to Kim Kardashian’s oily ass-levels of ubiquity.
So let’s entertain a hypothetical scenario, just for shits-and-giggles:
What if a British filmmaker made a movie about the assassination of a U.S. president—let’s say, George W. Bush—and it was going to be shown in the U.S.
Oh, wait . . . what? You mean it really happened?
How do you think theater chains, government officials, and the media would react?
Funny how short our memories are these days.
Death of a President is a 2006 British high concept mockumentary political thriller film about the fictional assassination of George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. President, on 19 October 2007 in Chicago, Illinois. The film is presented as a future history mockumentary and uses actors, archival video footage as well as computer-generated special effects to present the hypothetical aftermath the event had on civil liberties, racial profiling, journalistic sensationalism and foreign policy.
The central conceit of Death of a President was much criticised by those who believed it exploited the subject of presidential assassination, and that by doing so, was in bad taste. Gretchen Esell of the Texas Republican Party described the subject matter saying, “I find this shocking, I find it disturbing. I don’t know if there are many people in America who would want to watch something like that.” Hillary Clinton, then junior United States Senator from New York, told The Journal News of Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam counties at the annual New Castle Community Day in Chappaqua that, “I think it’s despicable. I think it’s absolutely outrageous. That anyone would even attempt to profit on such a horrible scenario makes me sick.”
Simon Finch, the co-screenwriter, replied saying that Clinton had not seen the film when she commented. The Bush administration did not comment about the film; as White House spokesperson Emily Lawrimore remarked, “We are not commenting because it doesn’t dignify a response.” Two U.S. cinema chains, Regal and Cinemark, refused to screen Death of a President, which was distributed by Newmarket Films in the United States. CNN and NPR also refused to broadcast advertisements for the film.”
I’m not defending anyone who believes intimidating artists and entertainment corporations with threats of violence is acceptable—as an artist, I find all censorship abominable. If it does turn out that the North Korean government is the culprit, shame on them. But this sure adds an interesting perspective, doesn’t it?