The Day North Korea Outdid Itself

ced5a2aced2e254030084a5d7dd07c34Dennis Rodman went to North Korea and became friends with Kim Jong Un, a despotic – and short – heir to the world’s longest running…something. North Korea is something but it’s hard to describe. It is an odd world indeed when “Denis Rodman” is not the strangest word in a sentence but that’s the power of North Korea’s epic weirdness. Of course, calling them weird doesn’t make them any less dangerous. The Kim family has the power of a state behind them. And, sure, it’s the kind of state where starving people have to eat grass but it’s still a state. (Guy Delisle’s fabulous Pyongyang is one of the better introductions to North Korea’s epic weirdness – and a movie based on it, starring Steve Carell! – has been shelved because of what I’m about to describe.)

Dennis Rodman was sent to North Korea by Vice.

This is all seemingly unconnected to what has recently happened. Maybe I see a connection because Vice was started by a bunch of smart but quite stoned Canadians (with Canadian government funding, which seems to be a whole other rabbit hole). The Stoned Canadian seems to be fuelling a lot of the weirdness to follow.

Like right here: Seth Rogen, a certified Canadian, got really stoned with a friend (who also happens to be a Canadian….). They obviously had a discussion about Kim Jong Un. I bet they were having this discussion because in their stoned state, a state where free-association is funnier than an actual state like, say, Minnesota, they imagined, for a second…that Dennis Rodman had been sent by the CIA to North Korea to fuck things up.

Seth Rogen

Lots of giggling. Lots of it. Like losing your ability to breath giggling. Endorphin-releasing amounts of it.

And this thought became scribbled notes or audio recordings or however it is that Seth Rogen takes notes and remembers things.

James Franco called, said “sup?” and Seth Rogen reached for his notes and James Franco came over and then they got really really stoned and laughed their way to the kitchen and James Franco watched Seth Rogen eat an entire tub of vanilla ice cream and felt a contact munchie contentment because James Franco gets empathy (what is his performance in 127 Hours but 100% empathy?)

And somehow Seth Rogen sold an idea to Sony.

An aside: Sony lost its way when it lost the Betamax/VHS war. Playstation, ok, that’s good. But this is a company that invented portable music delivery – I am of that age where a Walkman was the height of awesome – and then….what? Their TVs? Like what is Sony good at now? Speakers? No. Computers? Sony tried that, they really did, but none of that has worked for them because they are still bleeding from losing that Betamax battle. They probably still have employees who remember that battle and who still live with the resentment and/or disappointment of being on the losing side of that. So what else does Sony do? They own a movie studio. They were probably thinking “convergence!” when they bought it, but I can’t imagine the old Japanese men at Sony HQ really understand WTF they’re doing with a big Hollywood movie studio. Some accountant in Tokyo is approving big cheques to the likes of the eternally schlubby Seth Rogen. That image is funny.


Kim Jong Un has a Napoleon complex. He can’t help himself. He’s short. Apparently, he wears lifts (he also takes lifts – hilariously). He kills members of his family. This guy is serious about proving he’s not short. And when he got wind of this movie, maybe from his friend Dennis Rodman, but that makes a lot of assumptions about Dennis Rodman who was just a great rebounder with a lot of tats – I mean he’s no Michael Jordan of anything except maybe he’s the Michael Jordan of being Dennis Rodman, Kim Jong Un did not see the humor in a film that climaxes with his own extravagant death.

So he called his friends, or associates, the Hackers. And they hacked Sony. They massively hacked Sony because of course in this story Sony has inadequate tech security and, yes, blame Betamax. Just do it. (More: here is an interesting history of North Korea and how it is the “last holdover of Japanese fascism” which would mean, my god, history has come full circle!) And now what was surely a minor movie is a cause celebre of free expression/censorship, Sony looks bad, we hear that “the terrorists have won” and I keep expecting someone to pull either a New Coke and yell “Haha, tasteless marketing stunt!” or Suzanne Pleshette or, hey, Bobby Ewing – why not? – saying “It was all a dream!” and then we can go back to wondering how a giggle inducing, drug-fuelled idea about James Franco and Seth Rogan going to a weird and backward country to kill a weird and stature-challenged basketball loving supreme leader ever made it past the guardians of whatever kind of guardians exist in the rarified air of Hollywood and imagine the talk around the dinner table in Tokyo when Sony’s CEO has to answer the question: “How was your day, dear?”


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