Why was ‘The Interview’ so successful?

By Klax Zlubzecon
Translated by George Hyde

I’ve seen the world! I’ve been to the concrete jungles of Manhattan, the actual jungles of Brazil, the beauty of Europe, the wonders of Asia, the overblown hype of Area 51 — seriously, there’s nothing there, guys – and it’s been a fantastic trip. I returned to Alaska, though, to find my host sleeping in and doing nothing at all. Figures.

May as well do the token introduction thing since this is a new semester. I am Klax, an alien brain slug. My Empire is several thousand light-years away from Earth, so you don’t need to worry about a global invasion just yet. My host, George, is a reporter at this newspaper, and a rather lazy one at that.

Since I burrowed my way into his subconscious, I’ve been writing a column in this paper just about every week. The general theme is current events from the perspective of me, the local space-born mind-sucker, with the occasional nerdy bit whenever George has a nerd kick.

Typically, my first column of the semester would be an introduction to college life with a few tips for adapting to it, but I think I’ve written plenty about that. You can head to The Northern Light’s website if you want to look that up.

So on the subject of current events. Let’s talk “The Interview.”

I have not seen “The Interview,” and neither has George; in my case due to having fun on vacation, in George’s case due to laziness. It’s a film about two wacky protagonists on a mission to kill Kim Jong-Un, the current leader of North Korea. I don’t know whether it reinvents the comedic wheel or not, but it’s a Seth Rogen comedy, so I’m sure it’s similar to a lot of Seth Rogen comedies. But given the recent hype surrounding it, it sounded like it was going to reinvent the comedic wheel. George tells me that when he went to check it out at the Bear Tooth, he decided against seeing it when he saw the monstrously long line. That’s how wildly popular this film has become. But why?

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It turns out that “The Interview” is a perfect example of what people call the “Streisand Effect,” named after an unsuccessful suit by Barbra Streisand to suppress photos of her home. See, if someone tries to hide or censor information, people are going to be more and more interested in it. It’s the reason police videos are so popular on YouTube — police try to censor footage of them, and that, in turn, brings more attention to it. And that’s the reason “The Interview” exploded.

It all began when a group known as the “Guardians of Peace” hacked into Sony and leaked several movies ahead of schedule, all while threatening a 9/11-style attack on the theaters that dared show “The Interview” on Christmas Day. Sony immediately pulled the film, the FBI pointed their finger at North Korea, North Korea denied it, then offered to help persecute the hackers, then called our president a monkey for allowing it to be released again … it’s a long and convoluted story.

The point is that for a period of time before Christmas Day, it looked like “The Interview” would never see the light of day. Commenters and tweeters on the Internet promptly lost their minds, ripping Sony to shreds over the decision. Celebrities joined them, and even our president called for Sony to release the film. Almost everyone pushed for the film to be released somehow, even if it was just a limited release on iTunes or something. And eventually, Sony caved and did exactly that. And “The Interview” has topped the charts since.

The conspiracy theorist in me wants to say that the Guardians of Peace attack came from within Sony, but that’s probably too stupid to be true. You do have to admit, though, that if this was intentional, it would’ve been a brilliant marketing move. The consumer doesn’t know what they want until it’s been snatched away from them . An ethical marketing move? Of course not. But a brilliant one nonetheless.

Whoever the culprit, it turned out to be a massive success for those who made the film. And I’ll leave you with that food for thought. Oh, and also this: