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The controversy surrounding The Interview has been one of the most highly tracked in recent memory. But, as pointed out by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in their 2015 Golden Globes opener, the controversy was more interesting than the movie. The film has received a ton of harsh criticism in America by reviewers, but what do the people of North Korea think about The interview?
If you think North Koreans were prevented from watching the film that sees two members of the entertainment industry tasked with assassinating Kim Jong-un, you’d be right. However, according to The New York Times, defectors have been able to smuggle copies to some of the people. The problem is, even the ones who oppose their tyrannical dictator think The Interview is awful and demeaning. Said Chung Kwang-il, one of these defectors who spoke with several North Koreans who had seen the film:
They cursed at the movie. They were angry it depicted North Koreans as a bunch of idiots. Now, these are not people worshiping Kim Jong-un; they are ones who wish he were gone."
It seems that national pride trumped the bashing of Kim Jong-un. Though, another of the country’s defectors cited the translation issue and unrealistic gags as a couple sources for this harsh reaction. For instance, he specifically references a moment in the film where fake fruit was used in the capital’s marketplace to fool visitors.
That doesn’t happen in Pyongyang, and people who were not used to American-style comedy would find it insulting.
There are still many people in North Korea who refuse to even watch the film, but as noted, it’s mainly due to fear of punishment that lingers over them. One defector said that citizens can be put to death if they are caught watching The Interview, though he hopes many others will choose to watch it after "the crackdown subsides in a month or two."
Since its release online, The Interview has been raking in the VOD bucks. Despite forcing the film to be pulled from theaters, the controversy ended up working out in Sony’s favor, as it probably wouldn’t have performed as well as it did otherwise. During Sunday night’s Golden Globes ceremony, the film was at the forefront of Fey and Poehler’s bits. As Fey joked in the duo’s opening monologue, "a wanton act of terror" wasn’t the worst criticism it received. (Hear their full gag at the :29 mark in the video below.)
As a running gag throughout the ceremony, though, Margaret Cho dressed up as the newest member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a contributor to the fake entertainment magazine Movies Wow! In full North Korean militant attire, she snagged a photo with the great Meryl Streep, which was then photobombed by the lovable Benedict Cumberbatch.
If North Koreans thought The Interview was demeaning, we wonder what they’d think about the Globes stunts.