For any of you who haven’t heard, the movie The Interview was recently pulled out of theaters after a massive cyber hack that threatened 9/11-scale attacks on every theater that showed it. I’m not here to discuss whether or not Sony should have given in to these demands or talk about whether it was a good idea to make a movie about assassinating a foreign president in the first place. Amidst all the questions and reactions, I want to focus this post on one crucial detail that seems to be getting overlooked.
A movie almost got us killed.
One little, 112-minute flick starring Green Goblin and Green Hornet was about to trigger a sequel to one of the worst terrorist attacks in American history. What’s the big deal? It’s just a movie.
But that’s the point. Nothing is ever just a movie. North Korea’s reaction to this film reminds us of a truth that human beings have known since the beginning of time: the pen is mightier than the sword. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t actually assassinate the president of North Korea. Art is more powerful than armies. And North Korea knows that…at least partially.
What I find interesting is that if the hackers really understood this idea, they wouldn’t have threatened us with nuclear hellfire. Instead, they would’ve just released their own Korean film where they assassinated our president. It would’ve been a lot more consistent(and entertaining) if we had a back and forth Hollywood vs. North Korean cinemas showdown where we clashed satirical swords until one country outwitted the other. But alas, I guess nobody has time for that.
History is filled with examples of how words can affect society better than brute force can. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense inspired the colonists to finally overthrow the British, Mark Twain helped shift the tide against racism in the North with Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol revived the Christmas traditions that we all know and love and are going to celebrate in a few days. All that being said, if you can change the world with your words, imagine what you can do to people with them. No nuclear weapon can compare to the power that words have to change hearts.
I’m not here to debate what the U.S. should do with North Korea. If you learn one thing from this event, I hope it’s this: words(and in this case satirical films) are more powerful than weapons. So if someone wants to physically fight you or if you just plain hate somebody for whatever reason, don’t fight them back. Write them an encouraging letter or make them a video about what you think is cool about them.(Or you can make a short film that shows them how idiotic they’re being. But, again, I’d go with the love letter.) There’s power in our words. Let’s use them for good.