The funny thing about the Sony hacking case

It's all in jest, but there probably is a sense of "too soon" out there over the Sony hacking story.
Chris Rock at the premiere of Top Five. Evan Agostini / Invision / AP
Chris Rock at the premiere of Top Five. Evan Agostini / Invision / AP

How do you joke about the Sony hacking story? If you’re Chris Rock, you joke about it cleverly – but carefully. Promoting his own new movie Top Five this week, he noted: “My movie’s very Korean-friendly. There are no jokes about North Korea in Top Five. If you’re Korean, go out and see Top Five. You will enjoy it.”

Given that the fallout over an unabashedly silly movie – The Interview, which Sony shelved last week after a cyberattack by hackers that the United States has linked to North Korea – has escalated into a deadly serious global situation, one would think comedy writers might be a bit skittish just now. But they are in the business of satire, and this is one of the biggest entertainment stories in years.

NBC’s Saturday Night Live didn’t hesitate to bring up the scandal. Last weekend’s show opened with Mike Myers returning as Dr Evil from his Austin Powers movies to take jabs at Sony, North Korea, Hollywood, Republicans and The Interview star James Franco’s much-derided Oscar-hosting skills.

“There’s already a GOP,” ­Myers said, referring both to the hackers who call themselves Guardians of Peace and the acronym for Grand Old Party, another name for the Republican party, “and they’re already an evil organisation.”

Referring to hackers’ threats of terrorism over the movie, he said that this wasn’t necessary.

“It’s easy to kill a movie,” he said. “Just move it to January.”

As for Franco, whose character in the film is tasked with assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he said: “The man single-handedly almost killed the Oscars.”

Later, the show played with the idea that maybe it’s a little soon to be joking about the events. Bobby Moynihan appeared as Kim Jong Un, saying he wasn’t afraid. But then red target marks appeared on his torso, and he changed his tune: “I’m Seth Rogen, everybody!” he said, trying to mimic Rogen, director and co-star of the film.

It’s all in jest, but there probably is a sense of “too soon” out there, says Janice Min, a veteran entertainment industry observer who oversees The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.

“I would say we’re in an unprecedented era of fear right now,” she says.

“I’m going to venture that at least until the issues are resolved, everyone’s too scared, and you don’t want to be the one making that North Korea joke because you don’t want to be a target yourself.”

Published: December 22, 2014 04:00 AM

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