I like Jack Ohman's take because -- while there's more than that involved -- so much of this dust-up is the result of monstrous egos clashing.
Hollywood vs. Kim Jong-un
Jeez, now there's a cage match fer yez.
For all the high-minded talk of "freedom of speech" and "artistic expression," there's also a question of "What the hell were they thinking?"
Granted, mean-spirited comedy has been hot for a couple of decades, and pushing the envelope is how you make your mark out there.
But, beyond "What the hell were they thinking when they green-lighted this film?" you also have to ask what the hell they thought when all their Asian distributors declined the honor of showing it. Wasn't that a bit of a clue?
Had they forgotten that this is not 1940, when reels of film were sent around from theater to theater and you could edit out the scenes with black people in the ones you were sending to Southern theaters? That whatever shows one place pretty much shows everyplace?
And that it's a lot easier to get an explosive device from Point A to Point B today than it was back in 1940?
Because everybody keeps bringing up "The Great Dictator," in which Charlie Chaplin spoofed Hitler, and, even if the conceptual parallel fit, this isn't 1940.
And the conceptual parallel is pretty shaky, too.
To start with, while Chaplin began writing his script in 1938, the war began before filming did.
It was a funny movie, but it was dead-serious wartime satire aimed at a genuine, active threat.
And Chaplin ridiculed Hitler's views and policies as well as his mannerisms. He put the character -- and the heroic little victim of "Adenoid Hynkel's" anti-Semitism -- at the center of the film.
People keep calling "The Interview" a satire, and I haven't seen it, so perhaps it is, but nobody has reported what it satirizes. If it just makes fun of a short, fat little Asian guy with funny hair, that isn't "satire." That's just mockery.
And the filmmakers clearly didn't take Kim as seriously as Chaplin took Hitler. After the first flurry of threats emerged, Rogen told the LA Times, "It's all a presentation. They do have nukes and we were told that they may even escalate to military exercises and reallocation of troops, but that’s as far as it could go."
I had a friend killed in the DMZ in 1968 in a random attack by North Koreans, and I had a son on stand-by off their coast at another fraught moment. So "military exercises and reallocation of troops" doesn't strike me as something to shrug off.
And I happened to be in Denver when the Dark Knight shootings took place in suburban Aurora. I wasn't involved but I did get to see how one attack on one theater impacted people who were not involved in the filming or distribution of that movie.
So pardon me if I see more than a little bit of "let's you and him fight" in all this talk about free expression.
President Obama says SONY shouldn't have backed down, and that they should have called him.
But what was his plan? Would the government have funded security officers and metal detectors for each theater showing the film?
Let me be clear: Once the cyberattacks began, I don't know what the response should have been.
I guess SONY should have said that they would make the film available to whatever theaters wanted to screen it and then it would have all blown over.
Unless some screwball decided God and Kim Jong-un were talking to him through his neighbor's snowblower.
Or the North Koreans actually decided to hit a movie theater themselves, in which case we would hope they used regular explosives and not a dirty bomb.
In any case, if we're going to have an entire cabinet department and a massive internal surveillance program based on the fact that things like this can happen, it seems odd to have the president discounting the possibility.
Especially just as the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev gets under way in Boston.
I kind of like Marshall Ramsey's take, because, no, I don't like the way this has turned out.
But here's a question for the studios from this amateur movie critic:
Was it gonna funnier than this? Because no national leaders were insulted in this one.
Oh, right. Forgot who I was talking to.