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11 January 2015

"The Interview" (Conversations About the Film: Honey Pot and Honey Dick)

Brun Critics Circle is conducting an experiment. Instead of the usual film review / criticism essay, we decided just to discuss a film in the form of a conversation. Thank you. We hope this works. Warning: This post contains some movie spoilers.

Rob: Welcome to Brun Critics Circle. I’m Rob and I am here with fellow Brun critic, Pilipina but you can call her Ina. But since there’s only two of us so we’re not really a circle, technically.

Ina: You can still make a circle with two points. Just make a loop instead of a straight line.

Rob: Oh yeah.

Ina: We’re here to review or criticize, depending on how you will interpret our discussion, “The Interview,” directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, screenplay by Dan Sterling, and starring Seth Rogen, James Franco and Randall Park.

Rob: This is a controversial film

Ina: Yes, but we do not really need to discuss that. I think most people already know the whole issues surrounding the film. Let’s get on to the analysis. What do you think of the film?

Rob: I think it’s typical Seth Rogen. I personally do not understand all the hoopla surrounding the film. It’s very straightforward satire, done in the Rogen way.

Ina: That sounds like anti-balding commercial.

Rob: The Rogen way!

Ina: Yes

Rob: I think anybody with a sense of humor will enjoy this film. It’s gross out comedy containing many dirty jokes and double entendre. The film is bromance comedy with something extra.

Ina: And that extra is satire.

Rob: But I think it is satire done pretty well. Of course, I can’t say that it's equivalent to other great satirical films in the past, but “The Interview” is quite entertaining.

Ina: Can you name other great satirical films in the past?

Rob: I hate dropping names or mentioning classic films just to sound intelligent so I can prove to people that I’m credible.

Ina: You kind of sound like Seth Rogen’s character in the movie.

Rob: (Laughs) You cite a film.

Ina: Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove.”

Rob: Name drop alert!

Ina: I need approval from people. Please love me.

Rob:  We’re digressing. To go back to the film, I think if the whole hacking of Sony Pictures and the terrorist threats did not happen, many people would simply regard this movie as just another shallow Hollywood comedy, and give it a few years, it will just take its place among the many comedies of Rogen and Franco. I have to admit that the filmmakers were brave to make fun of the North Korean leader.

Ina: Other films and television shows have made fun of Kim Jong Un in the past. MAD TV had several skits about the North Korean leader

Rob:  And even Margaret Cho has made jokes about him on some of her stand-up comedy shows. So why do you think some people feel threatened by this film, even U.S. President Obama got involved.

Ina: I think it’s because this is a movie and not a television show. American movies are distributed around the world so I think the issue is the number of people who will see this film.

Rob: The number of people who will laugh, to be precise.

Ina: But you’re right, the film is entertaining, especially for those people who love Seth Rogen’s comedies

Rob: It’s still filled with clich├ęs though.

Ina: Like what?

Rob: The white man saves the day. However, I did like the fact that the female Korean military officer reprimanded the Americans for constantly making the same mistakes, y’know, assassination as the best solution. I also like that she decided to stay and help rebuild her country. Oftentimes, in Hollywood films, and past Western films about non-Caucasians, the non-Caucasian decides to leave her or his country and live free in America or any Western nation.

Ina: Yes, you have Robinson Crusoe’s Boy Friday,

Rob: And the Indian woman in “80 Days Around the World”

Ina: And many more, I am sure our readers can cite some films with the same theme.

Rob: Can’t you do it?

Ina: My mind is blank now.

Rob: In addition, as entertaining as the film may be, it’s still “pop” propaganda. (Makes quotation marks gestures with his fingers)

Ina: Are the quotation marks intended? (Laughs)

Rob: Yes, to put emphasis that it is not a conscious propaganda film, but because the filmmakers are Americans, they cannot help but to make Americans the heroes. In fact, the American way of life is the coolest kind of life. This is about pop culture. Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” is an important part of the plot, and other songs on the soundtrack carry the same message. In fact, Lizzy Caplan, who plays CIA agent Lacey, looks like Katy Perry.

Ina: I think that’s intentional. Eminem was also in the film.

Rob: What can be more pop culture than Eminem? I think it was quite appropriate that the rapper was in the film. Eminem is one of the master manipulators of mass media. He has constantly used controversies to gain attention and boost his record sales.

Ina: Yes, and he makes fun of himself in the film by casually admitting that he’s gay, the fictional Eminem, not the real one.

Rob: I think his appearance in the film softens him up. He may be telling the world that he’s not really misogynistic and homophobic. He’s just in it for the money. He’s also saying that he has a sense of humor so he should be forgiven for singing about rape and murder.

Ina: It's very interesting that a movie about a dictator who threatens the world with violence also features a rapper who threatens women with violence.

Rob: Do you think that's intended or just simply accidental?

Ina: We should let the audience decide. I think the film also tackles the issue of the power of mass media.

Rob: Especially American mass media,

Ina: Yes, the power of media to start a so-called revolution.

Rob: And how an individual or a media celebrity can claim to have started a revolution, as James Franco’s character Dave Skylark said in the film, “with just a camera, and a few questions.”

Ina: Precisely. What do you think of all the butt jokes in this film?

Rob: Staple in any bromance or buddy comedies. The jokes are funny.

Ina: Yes, I guess but not for me, but I understand the humor.

Rob: What do you mean?

Ina: Latent homosexuality or repressed homosexuality released through humor.

Rob: What?! You’re over-reading!

Ina: I don’t have to over-read. The filmmakers sprayed it all over the film. All those male posturings, machismo, and exploding male libido are front to hide something inadequate.

Rob: It’s not! That is what bromance comedy is all about. It’s about making fun of the close relationship between two straight guys. They genuinely love each other like brothers but making fun of their closeness is a way to discredit or deflate other people’s false assumptions that the relationship is homoerotic. The same thing was done in "Friends," with the characters of Chandler and Joey, and in one episode, with Ross.

Ina: It’s still classic textbook case.

Rob: What textbook are you reading? Did your professor recommend that book?

Ina: He was your professor too.

Rob: I see. Anyway, I think, and this is just my subjective reading, the film actually shows what happens if men are forced to behave a prescribed way, and like certain things just to be regarded as a “real” man. A straight guy is not supposed to like Katy Perry. He can like Katy Perry’s body but he should not be moved by her music. He’s not supposed to drink margaritas because they’re too gay. If a man’s adequacy is questioned, the best way, I mean, the patriarchal way, is to demonstrate his male power through aggression.

Ina: Shoot everyone.

Rob: Use harsh language, say the F word as much as possible.

Ina: Ride tanks, fire missiles, or just punch people.

Rob: Precisely, y’know it’s not accidental that missiles, guns, and other destructive weapons resemble the penis.

Ina: Those weapons are an extension of male power as symbolized by the penis.

Rob: But the penis is not enough so a man has to create a bigger one, a more destructive one. That explains why the character of Kim Jong Un enjoys holding the canon missile in his hands. We also have to take note that both Skylark and the fictional Kim Jong Un—

Ina: Maybe even the real one?

Rob: Let’s not go there.

Ina: Anyway, I get what you're driving at. Both men feel comfortable inside the tank. They reveal their true selves or as many philosophers and psychoanalysts call “the authentic self,” or at least a glimpse of their authentic selves.

Rob: Now, we’re becoming academic. (Both laughs) To go back, one can say that the inside of the tank is like the symbolic womb, or a protection from the demands of outside world on how a man should behave, and the tank and its long canon are the two men’s false projection to the world. That’s my reading.

Ina: Do you want to go over the superego, ego and id thing?

Rob: No, that would just make us pretentious
Ina: I agree. To sum up, basically, this movie is not only a satire about the North Korean leader but it’s also a commentary on male power and it all boils down to who has the bigger dick.

Rob: I wouldn’t put it that simply, but yes, symbolically.

Ina: And in the end of the movie, apparently, the United States still has the biggest symbolic dick in the world.

Rob: And some people thought the film was something else, just a comedy.

Ina: We’ve been honeypotted?

Rob: Or honey dicked?

Ina: We’re kidding. It’s a comedy. It’s a satire. It has James Franco and Seth Rogen

Rob: Which is better than Seth MacFarlane.

Ina: Let’s not go there.

Rob: I think that’s it. We said so much already. Throwing several subjective ideas to our readers is enough.

Ina: I agree. Our readers are intelligent. They can do their own analysis.  Y’know, this is quite long so expect a TL;DR comment.

Rob: You’re brushing up on your internet lingo eh?

Ina: LOL!

Rob: Lastly, who gave the best performance in the film?

Ina: That’s easy. Randall Park, who plays Kim Jong Un, owns this film.

Rob: I agree.

Ina: Should we tell them how we got a copy of the film?

Rob: It’s pretty obvious. I have many Korean students.

Ina: Do you have any f..parting words?

Rob: You almost said farting words (Laughs)

Ina: Do words fart?

Rob: I once heard a guy farted the word bush.

Ina: Really?

Rob: Yes, his fart sounds like bush, not exactly but almost.

Ina: Is he making a commentary about the Bush invasion of Iraq?

Rob: I don’t know. I have to ask the guy.

Ina: (Laughs) Anyway, any p-arting words.

Rob: Have a sense of humor. It is all right to laugh, but make sure you’re laughing for the right reason. As I said before, comedy unmasks us all. What makes you laugh reveals your prejudices. How about you? Any last comments?

Ina: Girls, your boyfriends will love this film. There you go.... We made some pretty good insights.

Rob: Not really, we’re just using the usual textbook materials. I’m sure other critics will hate us.

Ina: (Sings)Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate!”

Rob:  That’s from a Taylor Swift’s song

Ina: Do you know Taylor Swift and Katy Perry have this feud going?

Rob:  Yes, I read about that.

Ina: So women are not immune to the politics of power, 

Rob: Two of Taylor Swift's dancers, which originally were Katy's dancers, resigned and joined Katy on her tour, so does that mean for women, the fight is who has the bigger back up dancers?

Ina: Or maybe the fight is all about who got the bigger—

Rob:   Don’t go there!

Ina: Well, as Margaret Cho said, “I live there. I bought a house there.”

Rob: But I don’t live there so I don’t have first hand information about the neighborhood.

Ina: You can come and visit. Bring cheesecake, I'll make you spotted dick.

Rob: What’s a spotted dick?

Ina: You’ve never had a spotted dick?

Rob: No.

Ina: Oh my God, it’s tasty. It’s British.

Rob:  Oh, so Benedict Cumberbatch probably had it?

Ina: Most probably. I’m guessing.

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