Xavier addresses ‘Interview’ controversy

By: Maddie Day ~Staff Writer~

A special event was held in the Honors Lounge in the Conaton Learning Commons to discuss the controversy surrounding the release of “The Interview” and its political implications. Dr. Hwisang Cho, an assistant professor of History with expertise in East Asian languages and cultures, and Dr. Mack Mariani, chair and associate professor of the Political Science Department, led the discussion, which was held on Jan. 22.

“The conversation was enthusiastic and interesting, as the issue generated a great deal of discussion about a wide range of issues, including free speech, privacy and internet security and foreign policy,” Mariani said.

The event was designed to further discuss the implications of “The Interview” with diverse perspectives beyond those represented by popular media. “The Interview,” a comedy directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, stars Rogen and James Franco.

Rogen and Franco play two journalists who schedule an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The two then are ordered to assassinate Kim upon meeting him. In June 2014, the North

Korean government made serious threats against the United States as a result of the film’s production. North Korean leaders demanded that Colombia Pictures, the film’s distributor, cancel its release.

As a result, writers and produces of “The Interview” reportedly edited the film in hopes of making it more acceptable to North Korean government leadership. Then, in November 2014, the computer systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment, the parent company of Columbia Pictures, were hacked by a group believed to have ties to the North Korean government.

The hackers released significant internal information that was considered otherwise private and demanded that Sony cancel the release of “The Interview.”

Sony opted to release the film for online rental and purchase. It was also released at a limited number of theaters on Christmas Day. Light refreshments followed the informal discussion about the controversial film. About 15 students and six faculty members participated in the event.