If I were a cartoonist — a phrase cartoonists are loath to hear — I’d sketch a chubby imp donned in a diaper, sporting a chia mohawk and munching the last Big Mac on Earth, while straddling a nuclear-armed missile that bears a striking resemblance to Dennis Rodman.
The imp’s pudgy hands would be caressing a palm-sized computer by which he can digitally destroy the object of his wrath du jour. His target, you might have guessed, is Hollywood.
You may have surmised why I am not a cartoonist. I have no talent for drawing, but you get the point: Little Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of the Democratic (cough, cough) People’s Republic of Korea, apparently wasn’t able to tolerate what we nutty Americans call political satire.
Or at least what Hollywood calls satire. Sony, specifically, considers it “satire” to blow up the face of the person described in paragraph one. What the movie lacks in wit is apparently compensated by the sort of antics that the mood-altered find fantastically funny. This is what earns the film the label of “stoner movie,” for those who are not exactly riveted by the zeitgeist.
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Then again, there is something about that face …
Thus, the mad tyrant, whose rapacious curiosity includes wondering how long people can survive on a diet of grass, turns his basilisk gaze to the West where lesser mortals dare to mock him.
Enter a fifth horseman of the apocalypse – the hacker.
What fun to expose the vanities of all vanities – snarky intercompany emails among the rich and famous about the rich and famous – and then to contemplate the genocide of moviegoers. How droll.
This is power. This is revenge of the nerd. This is lunacy — and a foreshadowing of worse to come? Kim says the United States is behind the film and claims to know nothing of the hack. President Obama speaks earnestly about the value of free speech while suggesting some sort of response.
What might this be? You hack us, we'll hack you back? A blistering lecture by the one to The Un? Such hackery only Thackeray could love.
Meanwhile, the maternal mind wanders to the scene in The Conversation when a woman observing a homeless man sleeping on a bench wonders whether he once was someone’s pride and joy. This leads to the parallel question: Was Kim Jong Un once a bundle of love in his mother’s arms, a happy little toddler whose chief delight was the endless rereading of Goodnight Moon or its equivalent?
Or did he first pull himself up from the floor only to unsheathe his tiny sword and cleave it through a kitten’s neck? How the once-beloved child becomes the mass murderer is one of life’s abominable mysteries. It is especially so to folks whose national mandate is to try to make life as fair as possible. That we sometimes fail does not diminish the aspiration.
Though I’ve not shared the pleasure of The Un’s company, I’m sure the supreme leader has his moments of humanity. Don’t they all? But experience also suggests that Kim is endowed with a case of “the tinies.” Most bullies suffer not only a lack of self-esteem and empathy but also, one suspects, a certain masculine incertitude.
The “tinies” manifest themselves as follows: The tiniest infraction earns an abundance of punishment; the tiniest insult is received as a mortal affront; the tiniest bit of humor at one’s expense is absorbed as an assault on one’s honor — and dishonor must pay a price.
How to deal with North Korea will keep us busy through the holidays, but it does seem that Obama is well-suited to the task. From my own conversations with and observations of the president, it appears that Obama is intrigued by the psychological underpinnings of human motivation. Thusly attuned, he might find Kim a tantalizing object for examination.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, Dr. Freud supposedly said. But sometimes, it’s not.
Whatever strategies are devised, we may indulge ourselves in one morsel of sweetness — and I buried the lede. What we have been unable to do — convince Hollywood to take seriously its role in shaping culture as well as reward loyal moviegoers with quality over cheap stunts — has been temporarily accomplished by a smug and cruel little man with the tiniest sense of humor.
Even though some theaters are now saying they will screen the film after all, the killing of The Interview was a holiday gift for all the wrong reasons.
© 2014, Washington Post Writers Group