Seth Rogen simply can't seem to stay out of the news these days — and not just the Entertainment section. First, his recent frathouse comedy Neighbors was cited by the Washington Post 's Ann Hornaday as a primary example of how Hollywood may have contributed to the UCSB shootings — an argument to which both Rogen and Judd Apatow strenuously objected, of course (though, as ThinkProgress's Jessica Goldstein remarked regarding his reaction, "Rogen could not miss the point more if he were participating in some kind of point-missing contest"). And now, his next film is poised to start a war. According to BBC News, The Interview — an action-comedy starring Rogen and James Franco as journalists sent into North Korea to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, set for release this October — is being perceived as "an act of war" by the North Korean government.
Apparently, the slam issued toward the film earlier this week, which called out our society's apparent "desperation" in mocking North Korea, wasn't quite strong enough. Though this most recent statement doesn't mention any film by name — nor cite co-director Rogen as the "gangster filmmaker" to whom it refers — the North Korean spokesman does assert that "Making and releasing a movie on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated."
I mean, I doubt anyone expected North Korean officials to react positively to a film centered on assassinating their leader — but wouldn't "the most blatant act of terrorism and war" be, well, an actual act of terrorism or war? Have mind games officially trumped war games? Is it possible that Kim Jong-Un has recently watched the trailer for Inception ?
Of course, this recognition of Hollywood's power does have some merit. There's a reason why modern warfare is accompanied by propaganda films — or, to return to the Neighbors controversy, why Hornaday wasn't immediately laughed out of the room for suggesting that a bro-tacular summer comedy might have had even a tiny role to play in a grisly mass-murder.
Still, if that's the case, it seems strange that this is the first piece of pop culture to provoke the country's ire. For years now, North Korea — and, particularly, its kookily grey-suited dictators — have been fodder for mainstream American comedy. (Okay, maybe "remember all the other times we made fun of you?" isn't the most useful tactic when trying to dissuade a pissed-off dictator — but, y'know, go with me on this.)
Take Margaret Cho's brilliant turn on 30 Rock as an over-exuberant jack of all trades-style Kim Jong-Un — or, rather, "Johnny Mountain":
Plus, there was the time that the Gang on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia tried to "solve the North Korea situation" by spying on a Korean bar's enriched microbrew technology, as overseen by a markedly androgynous "Mr. Kim":
And have we all forgotten Team America: World Police? Sure, that was about Kim Jong-Il, not Jong-Un — but according to the BBC article, The Interview was originally slated to feature North Korea's previous dictator and had to be rewritten following his death in 2011.
Still, for whatever reason, The Interview seems to be the final straw for Kim Jong-Un & Co. — who've promised that, if the film goes ahead as planned, "a merciless counter-measure will be taken." While threats from rulers with nuclear arsenals is certainly no laughing matter, I can't imagine I'm alone in hoping against hope for a true proportional response — that is, a "merciless" retaliatory send-up of Rogen and Franco by the North Korean film industry. It's only fair, right?
With any luck, that "counter-measure" might look a little something like this:
And as for Rogen? Looks like he'll live to act another day: