In order to strike back against the devastating cyber-assault from North Korea, Hollywood must turn to the biggest weapon in its arsenal: the Academy Awards broadcast scheduled for Sunday night, February 22nd.
Right after Neil Patrick Harris finishes his opening monologue (or, most likely, his opening production number, given his formidable abilities as singer and dancer), he should introduce Seth Rogen and James Franco, stars of the canceled comedy “The Interview,” for the purpose of presenting a very special Oscar.
Perhaps they could call this award, “Worst Performance by a Crackpot Dictator,” and the guys would make clear that in 2014 there was no real competition: the winner, by a ton, was that portly potentate Kim Jon Un of North Korea.
At this point, the orchestra would play a rousing rendition of the North Korean national anthem, the “Aegukka,” or “Patriotic Song”- rich in cymbal crashes and blaring trombones, with lyrics that sound as if they were written by Sacha Baron Cohen in his Borat character. Perhaps the Oscar organizers could provide supertitles so that the crowd to sing along in English in praise of “my beautiful fatherland/glory of a wise people/ brought up in a culture brilliant/with a history five millennia long/limitlessly rich and strong”
And at this point, while the crowd at the Dolby Theatre and viewers at home might wonder what is actually going un, Kim Jong Un himself would waddle onto the stage — or at least Randall Park would make his appearance, clad in the costume and makeup he used in the film to become a plausible look-alike of the boyish barbarian.
After some banter with Seth and James, and more international humiliation for the North Korean regime, they’d hand him some mock Oscar with the hands of the little bald gold guy tightly clasped over his own mouth to signify Kim’s successful censorship.
The Oscar writers, who are usually sharp and witty, could provide their own material but the conclusion of the bit should include some version of the following: “And so, Generalissimo Kim, you thought your attack on Hollywood could save you from humiliation at the hands of a movie that might be seen by a few million people. But now – tonight – you’re getting humiliated in front of perhaps a billion people, in one of the yearly television events most widely watched around the globe.
“See what happens when you try to mess with Hollywood – and America.”
And see what happens, when Hollywood flips the proverbial bird toward the dictatorship, in terms of thunderous applause from the live Dolby Theatre audience and viewers around the world.
One more suggestion to the Oscar-show planners: why not release word in advance that there will be some humiliating sequence about Kim Jong Un in the ceremony? Imagine the boost to ratings: who wouldn’t tune in to see that? And then during the remaining three hours of the program (that often feel like ten hours) folks would keep watching to see if North Koreans make any crazy effort to disrupt the Academy Awards, or knock out the lights in Cucamonga, or anything of the kind.
While President Obama searches for a “proportional response,” the entertainment industry itself must take up the challenge in the way that matters most: sending the most powerful possible message that they won’t be censored. Let any dictator, terrorist or political hack who thinks he can escape satire by threatening Tinseltown understand that the result will be even more embarrassing, more coruscating, more stinging, than the parody he initially sought to avoid.
Of course, some Left Coast loonies will protest that taking nasty shots at Kim Jong Un at the Academy Awards would only undermine chances for reconciliation with the North Korean regime. But even in LaLaLand, does anyone seriously believe that reconciliation with this particular band of lunatics remains on the table? This is a bunch who threatened mass killing on the scale of 9/11 because of the planned release of a goofy comedy that, had it been released, might have won recognition as one of the year’s worst films.
Mitt Romney made the clever suggestion that SONY ought to make the movie available for free on the internet – the same suggestion that Alan Dershowitz came on my radio show to claim that he made first. The problem with the Dershowitz-Romney plan (let’s call it) is that it might defeat any forlorn hope of the beleaguered studio of ever recouping any of the $40 million plus they invested in “The Interview.”
But if they got a DVD release ready to go in time for the Oscars, imagine how many of those puppies they could sell after the Academy Awards parody.
Meanwhile, the big film studios need to invest more money and secure more expertise so they become better at cyber security, and even potential cyber attacks, than the North Koreans. This shouldn’t be an impossible goal to achieve: after all, is the GDP of the “glory of a wise people” actually that much bigger than the annual combined revenue of the top movie companies?
In Hollywood and around the world, there’s a strong sense that something must be done. It won’t be enough to undermine release of the next North Korean comedy slated to become an international movie blockbuster – after all, the movies from the Hermit Kingdom haven’t exactly swept major film festivals or found panting fans around the planet.
Instead, let Hollywood do what Hollywood does best: humiliating humor. Turn the whole Oscar show into one excruciating, repetitive roast of King Jung Un. The rest of the ceremony will no doubt include many remarks favoring gay rights, and opposing police brutality. At the beginning of the show, at least, perhaps the glitterati could enjoy a moment of authentic glory if they take a defiant stand for freedom of expression.