Monday, December 22, 2014

The U.S. Government's role in the making of The Interview

It turns out that Sony's The Interview was a propaganda film aimed at bringing about the assassination of Kim Jong-Un and the overthrow of the North Korean government.

In the movie, the assassination plot against Kim Jong-Un is carried out so another faction of the North Korean elite can take over.

The U.S. State Department and Bruce Bennett from the RAND Corporation, wanted the assassination at the end of the movie. They believed that the movie would be leaked to North Korea and trigger "some real thinking".

Illegal copies of South Korean soap operas are popular in North Korea. Media from outside the country does make it way into the North.

From the Daily Beast:
The Daily Beast has unearthed several emails that reveal at least two U.S. government officials screened a rough cut of the Kim Jong-Un assassination comedy The Interview in late June and gave the film—including a final scene that sees the dictator’s head explode—their blessing.

The claim that the State Department played an active role in the decision to include the film’s gruesome death scene is likely to cause fury in Pyongyang. Emails between the Sony Entertainment CEO and a security consultant even appear to suggest the U.S. government may support the notion that The Interview would be useful propaganda against the North Korean regime.

... 
A series of leaked emails reveal that Sony enlisted the services of Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who specializes in North Korea, to consult with them on The Interview. After he saw the film, including the gruesome ending where a giant missile hits Kim Jong-Un’s helicopter in slow-mo as Katy Perry’s “Firework” plays, and Kim’s head catches on fire and explodes, Bennett gave his assessment of it in a June 25 email to Lynton, just five days after North Korea's initial threat.
...
[Bennett wrote], “In fact, when I have briefed my book on ‘preparing for the possibility of a North Korean collapse’ [Sept 2013], I have been clear that the assassination of Kim Jong-Un is the most likely path to a collapse of the North Korean government. Thus while toning down the ending may reduce the North Korean response, I believe that a story that talks about the removal of the Kim family regime and the creation of a new government by the North Korean people (well, at least the elites) will start some real thinking in South Korea and, I believe, in the North once the DVD leaks into the North (which it almost certainly will). So from a personal perspective, I would personally prefer to leave the ending alone.”
That same day, Lynton responded saying that a U.S. government official completely backed Bennett’s assessment of the film.
“Bruce – Spoke to someone very senior in State (confidentially),” wrote Lynton. “He agreed with everything you have been saying. Everything. I will fill you in when we speak.”

The following day, June 26, an email from Bennett to Lynton—as well as several other forwarded emails—revealed that Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human-rights issues, was helping to consult on the film as well through Bennett and addressed the June 20 threat by North Korea.
“Michael, 
I talked with Amb. King a few minutes ago,” wrote Bennett. “Their office has apparently decided that this is typical North Korean bullying, likely without follow-up, but you never know with North Korea. Thus, he did not appear worried and clearly wanted to leave any decisions up to Sony.”
(A spokesman for the U.S. State Department later admitted that Daniel Russel, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, had a conversation with Sony executives but vaguely denied having any direct influence on the creative direction of The Interview.)
Still, Sony executives felt nervous about not only the film, but also the scene depicting the murder of Kim Jong-Un. An email dated June 20 from Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, sent to Vice-Chairman of Sony Pictures Jeff Black said, “we need sonys name off this asap everywhere,” asking to remove the name “Sony” from all of the film’s promotional materials and package it as a Columbia Pictures release (a subsidiary of SPE). Then, a July 9 email from Lynton to Pascal expressed the company’s desire to not show the DPRK leader die.
 “Yeah we cannot be cute here,” wrote Lynton. “What we really want is no melting face and actually not seeing him die. A look of horror as the fire approaches is probably what we need.”
From Anti-War.com:
While a tiny nation state possibly being involved in scuppering a movie premiere by hacking and threatening a Hollywood studio by proxy may be more novel and sensational than yet another psyop by the US Regime Change Machine, the latter is far more important. The United States, as part of its “Asian Pivot,” made an explicit push for assassination and regime change in yet another foreign country under the cover of art and commerce, and the North Korean regime and its ally China are both now 100% aware of it. That has huge implications for politics in the region, for US relations with those countries, for the character and integrity of American art and media, and for the mischievous, generally havoc-wreaking way our government is secretly using our tax dollars.

Imagine how the U.S. and its CIA would respond if a major movie studio anywhere in the world were to make a film centered around the assassination of a sitting U.S. President: especially if a foreign government was involved, pushing for just such an assassination. That North Korea, or any state, might respond with speech-suppressing attacks and threats is not to be excused, but it should be no surprise either. Yet the US was more than happy to help foment a predictable crisis like this, thereby putting its own people at risk. And it did so by surreptitiously penetrating Hollywood to steer it toward using “artistic” existential threats to taunt a nation-state that is such a basket-case that it would only be dangerous to Americans if made desperate by such existential threats. That shows what little regard our “security force” has for our actual security, as compared to pursuing global power politics.

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