The commentators 19-12-14
...on North Korea
Hot-headed North Korean protests over disrespectful portrayals of their leaders are hardly a new phenomenon. In a world where even an online meme could be taken as a slight against its “supreme dignity”, even Pyongyang’s only formal ally, China, has been subject to censorship demands. So, to understand why The Interview has triggered such a strong and sustained rhetorical response from the North Koreans — who called it an “act of war” — it pays to look back at a history strewn with assassination attempts.
- Adam Cathcart, Financial Times
In the old days, Sony might have roughed this out and declared that The Interview was a fine film which it would stand by. But this time, its embarrassing truth has been exposed: Sony’s own executives think the film is a dud. Leaked emails show one damning The Interview as “desperately unfunny and repetitive” with “violence that would be shocking in a horror movie”. So the hackers pressed hard, because they knew there was a good chance that their victim would cave.
- Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
We should have realised long before cinemas started to receive threats evoking the memory of 9/11 that this wasn’t funny. Even if the White House declined on Thursday to blame the North Korean government directly, the attack on Sony has more in common with the furore over Danish cartoons of the prophet than with mischievous data raids on tax-dodging corporates. Sony has been not just embarrassed but crippled by an attack on its IT infrastructure that exposes the surprising fragility of our digitised world: the ease with which the plug can be pulled.
- Gaby Hinsliff, The Guardian
The North Korean leadership, in part thanks to films such as The Interview and Team America: World Police (featuring Kim Jong-un’s dad) has become a pantomime villain. A pudgy figure of fun. We don’t want to engage our minds beyond this, our minds flit elsewhere at the thought of the 150,000 to 200,000 North Koreans who are living right now in concentration camps.
- Mike Harris, The Independent
This is what satire can do – jab, attack, expose, detonate myths, and lessen the fear in the world. Even if The Interview achieved precisely none of those things, Sony’s nervous retrenchment on the issue surrenders to fear and thereby increases it. But that’s not all. It cedes the long-fought-for high ground from which satire can do its best job. Comedy silenced is civilisation taking a nasty hit.
- Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph
Cyber warfare is merely the latest frightening development in the history of human conflict — a threat to British society that could have potentially devastating consequences for millions of families. We cannot say, though, that we were not warned.
- Dominic Sandbrook, Daily Mail
Men with machine guns set out on a mission. They are heading for a school where they intend to kill as many pupils as they can. They achieve their aim with a death toll of 132 children - and a teacher is burnt alive for good measure.
By any yardstick this is a big story. But not, to judge from today's front pages, as big as the NHS populating hospital wards with foreign nurses or slightly cheaper petrol. Indeed, the possibility of life on Mars is more compelling for the Telegraph than the real loss of life on Earth.
What is the thinking here?
- Editor's blog
Tuesday 25 November The Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards were announced at a breakfast ceremony this morning. David Aaronovitch was named Commentariat of the Year and his newspaper, The Times, won the award for the best comment pages. Stevie Spring, who led the judges, made it a hat-trick for the Times by choosing Melanie Reid for the chairman's award.
The FT, Guardian, Mail and Sunday Times each picked up two awards. SubScribe was also among the winners. You can see the full list of awards here. A video of the presentations will be posted online later.
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