I know, I never blog anymore, and when I do, it’s just to post some silly story of the wacky things my kids do. Well, this post isn’t going to be about my kids or about being a gay dad or any of my usual topics. It’s about something else that interests me that has nothing to do with any of those things: North Korea.
I’ve long been fascinated with the country, because everything I hear about it sounds like something out of a dystopican sci-fi movie. Speakers in people’s homes that blare propaganda and can’t be turned off. A populace forced to worship their dictator like a god. A high-ranking state official who may or may not have been fed to dogs.
Nobody in North Korea gets to read articles like those of course, because most of them haven’t even heard of the internet. If you like The Hunger Games, you should read “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea” by Barbara Demick, because there are things that are actually going on in our world today that are a million times more fucked up than a dozen teenagers forced to kill each other.
By some accounts, the number of people who’ve died of starvation in North Korea is in the millions. Nothing angers me more than that. I throw out half-eaten peanut butter sandwiches and not-at-all-eaten broccoli from my kids every night, and millions of people in North Korea may have died due to an entirely preventable famine.
And what’s our response? Economic sanctions, which don’t work because Kim Jong-un (and his father and grandfather before him) is perfectly willing to let his people suffer.
Now Kim has scored possibly his biggest triumph yet. He hacked a movie studio and got a movie censored. His little country attacked a giant, and the giant caved. Everyone keeps saying how much it sucks that North Korea won this battle. And it does feel that way. And it does suck. But here’s what I think everyone seems to be overlooking:
Kim Jong-Un is scared shitless.
Why else would he stage a large-scale act of cyberterrorism against the United States… over a movie? “The Interview” may just be a light comedy to us, but to him, it’s utterly humiliating. He lives his life in fear that people will find out what’s really going on in his country and he’ll lose his grip on power. He’s so scared that he thinks a Seth Rogen movie can bring down his regime.
And the amazing thing is: maybe it could.
This isn’t just about a movie. This is about one of the worst mass murderers in human history, who’s been able to hold onto power because his country isn’t politically important enough to us, because we have bigger fish to fry and because we’re afraid of his nuclear bombs.
What he fears more than anything is information. He knows if his people find out what a miserable failure and certifiable lunatic he is, they’ll stop treating him like a god and start ridiculing him the way the rest of the world does. They may even overthrow him.
He thinks this is a victory? Let’s show him it’s not. The enemy of censorship is the truth. Let’s use this opportunity to shine a light on what’s going on in North Korea. Spread the word. Spread the truth.
Kim thinks he can make this go away by smacking down a movie? Let the message pop up in a hundred other places. Read about it. Talk about it. Put pressure on our leaders. Use your social networks. Post something on your blog, even if you usually write about how your kindergartener sassed you at bedtime and stuff like that.
I changed my profile picture on Facebook and Twitter to the image of Kim’s head exploding from “The Interview”. It’s the very thing that will embarrass him the most and show my support for free speech at the same time. Of course, Kim doesn’t currently follow me, so he’s not likely to see it unless a lot of other people change their pictures, too. If you want to do the same, you can grab the image above or from one of the tons of other places on the internet where it’s being displayed.
Forget what everyone says about slacktivism. If we make a big enough noise, the media will notice, and they’ll keep this story focused where it should be: on North Korea’s horrific history of human rights abuses. Some people are calling this a war, and if it is, then we’re all soldiers in it, so pick up your pens and your keypads and start fighting.
Kim Jong-Un is terrified of free speech, and you know what? He should be.
Despite the fact that a movie got censored, we still have it here in America. So let’s put it to good use.