James Griffin 's Opinion

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

James Griffin: Franco and Rogen spark war?

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James Franco and Seth Rogan in 'The Interview' a comedy action film about a plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
James Franco and Seth Rogan in 'The Interview' a comedy action film about a plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un of North Korea.

It was reported recently that North Korea, the gift that keeps on giving, had declared war on Seth Rogen and James Franco. What they apparently actually said was something along the lines that Rogen and Franco's upcoming film, The Interview, was "undisguised terrorism and a war action to deprive ... [the] people of the DPRK of their mental mainstay [i.e. Kim Jong-Un] and bring down its social system" but you should never let the facts get in the way of: (a) a good story; and (b) a great idea.

People have argued for years that Holly-wood needs to be more accountable for the films it churns out. And what better definition of accountable is there than: if we don't like your film, we will declare war on you. This is taking film criticism to a whole new level.

This is not just some bearded, smug film gonk dishing out stars. This is tanks and troops and, in the case of North Korea, missiles that sometimes even work. Under this system a bad review is bad on so many levels.

According to the CIA World Factbook, given the fact that North Korea has compulsory military service, they apparently have something like 12 million troops they can mobilise against Seth and James. According to the website Box Office Mojo, Seth and James have a combined lifetime box office of something in the vicinity of $3.9 billion. This should, in theory, be able to buy them a heap of guns and maybe even a few friends to stand alongside them in the trenches - Judd Apatow, Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd for definite starters. Mind you this is fickle Hollywood where even lifelong friendships can be forgotten in the face of North Korean military might.

Do not doubt for a second that if North Korea had actually made the threat to go to war with Seth Rogan and James Franco, that they would not make good on this threat in a Kim Jong-un heartbeat. For starters, they are the most completely bat-crazy nation on the planet so anything is possible. For seconds, the propaganda value of taking down a couple of Hollywood bigwigs would be gold for ruling classes of Pyongyang. And thirdly, Hollywood has already shown them how.

In the film Olympus Has Fallen, a bunch of angry and remarkably well-armed North Koreans manage to take down the entire White House and would have succeeded in defeating the whole United States if it weren't for Gerard Butler. In the remake of Red Dawn, North Korea, aided by some super-duper electromagnetic pulse weapon thingy, manage to go a step further by invading the whole United States and would have succeeded in conquering the country if it weren't for whichever one of the Hemsworths was Thor and some darn meddling kids including the baker boy from The Hunger Games.

When these films came out, in 2012 and 2013, and North Korea was portrayed as a nation of terrorists and evil-doers with awesome weaponry, the official response from Pyongyang was to tell the world that "The aggressors and their follower forces must not miscalculate: our millions of soldiers ... possess the means for merciless nuclear strike and possess extraordinary spiritual strength."

By North Korean standards, this mild-mannered response was a clear sign that what in Hollywood passes for a plot, in Pyongyang is a training manual. They will have taken on-board the lessons of these films (especially the one where the North Koreans got their butts kicked) and they will be prepared, when reality and fiction intersect, to kick some American arse instead.

The war on Rogan and Franco will probably begin with North Korea making pre-emptive strikes on Gerard Butler, all the Hemsworth brothers and the dude from The Hunger Games, just to be on the safe side. They will then move in on Rogan and Franco and the rag-tag bag of celebrities they have with them. Depending on whether R&F have been toking up or not the battle could be over in seconds, rather than minutes. At first the world will be horrified at this senseless waste of box office potential, but then the world will remember Franco hosting the Oscars and opinion will most likely switch out to feeling that Rogan was an innocent caught up in a justifiable war.

After that, who knows where this ultra-proactive form of film criticism may lead. For his Transformers films, the filmic equivalent of genocide, Michael Bay should definitely be accountable to someone - eventually God, but also possibly the UN and the massed forces of the entire world; for crimes against humanity.

North Korea, you may very well be on to something here.

- NZ Herald

James Griffin

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

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