Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Isn’t there anybody left on this planet with a sense of humor?

They’re all interconnected: Charlie Hebdo, Kim Jung-un, the script writer of “The Interview,” and Cho Hyun-ah. (Who? Keep reading.)

Let’s start with the fact that morning’s news was anything but funny. A bunch of Islamo-terrorists in Paris invaded the offices of a satirical magazine called Charlie Hebdo and opened fire with automatic weapons. As of noon today, the body count of their victims was 12.

I’ve become somewhat familiar with Charlie Hebdo during several more or less recent visits to France.(Hebdo is short for hebdomedaire, or weekly). Its covers stand out on French newsstands because of their sock-in-the-eye cartoon humor. Sometimes they’re downright funny. Sometimes, you might find them not-so-funny, despite their satiric intent. 
Charlie Hebo is an equal opportunity 
insulter of religions

Yes, they take on and mock Islam and those who commit terrorism in its name. Yes, they’re crude and insulting. But let it also be said that when it comes to religion, Charlie Hebdo is an equal opportunity insulter. 

One example is the magazine cover at right, in which three major religions demand that Charlie Hebdo should be hidden behind a veil. There have been multiple attacks of gross humor on both Catholicism and Judaism as well as Islam in Charlie Hebdo, as well as stinging mockeries of French government officials. 

Overall, is the publication funny? That’s a question that demands a subjective answer. I’ll just say it’s no less funny than “The Interview” the movie that the FBI claims provoked a recent web attack on Sony Pictures – an attack that revealed employee memos, internal sniping, and finished with a flourish that promised violence against the patrons of any theater showing the new Seth Rogin flic. 

That movie, The Interview, is about an American attempt to assassinate Kim Jung-un, the young North Korean head of state. You know,who I mean – the fat dictator with the terrible haircut. (Not to be confused with Chris Christie. Not yet, at any rate.) 
And you thought your barber is bad?

What is it, by the way, with bad hair, dictators and other disagreeable personalities – from Kimg Jung-un’s father Kim Jung-il, to Donald Trump? Is there a single gene that generates both autocratic behavior and a penchant for lousy-looking hair? But I digress.

The truth is, that had North Korea (or whoever it was) not hacked Sony, the film would have passed through the theaters (I borrow the next phrase from the author Tom Robbins) “like thin shit through a tall Swede.” It generated reviews that were not calculated to bring crowds running to the theaters, like one in Variety that called it “a terror attack…against comedy,” and “about as funny as a communist food shortage…half-baked burlesque.” The put-down went on and on, but you get the idea.

However, the hackers forgot that nothing focuses public attention like an out-of-proportion attack. This film has earned $31 million in streaming revenues to date, “becoming  Sony’s number one online film of all times,” and has been rented or purchased a total of 4.3 million times. So much for the economic impact of terrorist intimidation in this era of streaming technology. If Kim Jung-un was behind the Sony hack, he should know that the financial fallout of this caper makes him look like a bigger schmuck than the movie does.

Although finding a theater that plays the film isn’t easy, my cable channel offered me the opportunity to see it on demand for $5.95. I bit. My own review?

In my personal opinion, the movie isn’t quite as bad as Variety would have us believe. The Interview is really not a fourth rate film, although it is most certainly second- or third-rate. It starts out entertainingly enough, with a bunch of school children singing an engagingly insulting song about the United States that is so ridiculous it could make a fanatical patriot chuckle. It introduces us to a couple of amusing TV jerks working on the fringes of TV News. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there to base sophomoric yuks pretty quickly.

However, you don’t have to be either an outraged terrorist or a fat dictator with a bad haircut to have no sense of humor and behave outrageously these days. All you need is lots of money and connections.

A case in point has to do with Cho Hyun-ah, the rich, self-important, and evidently vicious member of a family that controls Korean Air Lines via a family-owned conglomerate. She was also a vice-president of Korean Air. The New York Times reports:
Ms. Cho’s father, Cho Yang-ho, the chairman of the Hanjin Group, has placed his three children in executive perches in the conglomerate, which also runs shipping, logistics and hotel businesses.
Well, see, if you’re born rich and connected, in South Korea (or North Korea, or here for that matter) you don’t have to start at the bottom and work your way up the executive ladder. Or know how to behave.

Seems that after boarding a flight from New York to Inchon, Ms. Cho became extremely pissed off (“irate” is the polite word that the New York Times used) “after a flight attendant served nuts without first asking her, and in an unopened package instead of a plate.”

So of course, she did what any rich, overprivileged, brat with unearned power would do. She ordered the plane, which had already left the gate but not yet taken off, to return to the gate, so that the steward could be kicked off, the insolent serf!

Yes, there was some backlash, not to mention that Ms. Cho’s fellow passengers were rankled by the delay. South Koreans began calling their own national airline “Air Nuts.” Ms. Cho was eventually forced to resign as head of the airline’s flight services, although for some curious reason she remains a vice-president of the airline. Draw your own conclusions.

There seem to be several morals in all this. Those that occur to me right off the cuff:

1.   Beware of rich or powerful people with bad haircuts.

2.   Every country in the world should have an excess wealth tax and other reins on excess power. I wish we could have that here. (Are you listening Donald Trump? How about you, Koch Brothers? And you, Bush Brothers?)

3.   There would appear to be an inverse relationship between violence and a sense of humor, as the Paris massacre demonstrates. Which makes me terribly worried about Chris Christie’s evident interest in running for President next year.

4.   If anything violent happens to me, or if I should suddenly and unexplainably disappear, round up and question the usual suspects. Those would be anybody mentioned in this post.

1 comment:

Andre said...

Thank you Crank for your lines about "Charlie Hebdo" killing.
Even no-readers, or critic of its drawings: Today, everyone (speaking of true French), "republican" or "democrat" if I may tell, says "I'm Charlie".
Other police officers were attacked this morning in the south of Paris. One dead. War?