Speaking of North Korea, we were subject to a denial-of-service attack yesterday. But from Iran. Who says there's no axis of evil?
At any rate, if you experienced difficulties with our home page and various other corners of the site, we apologize for the inconvenience. I'm happy to say, as we hit those last-minute Christmas shopping days, that the retail end of the SteynOnline cornucopia withstood the assault and remained open for Yuletide business. But there's gonna be a lot more of this in the years ahead. And whether the Internet as we know it will survive is an open question.
~I've spent much of the last couple of days on the radio with some of my favorite interviewers. You can hear how my take on the Sony/Kim Jong-Un showdown developed as the scale of Hollywood's capitulation became clear. Let's start with Toronto's Number One morning man, John Oakley. John and I also discussed the other big stories of the week - the jihadist-waiting-to-happen in Sydney and the slaughter of innocents in a Peshawar schoolhouse, Click below to listen:
As I said to John, a movie about assassinating Kim Jong-Un is an example of Hollywood's exquisitely calibrated "edginess": They would have never greenlighted the same kind of schlocko comedy about anything involving a certain word beginning with "I" and ending with "-slam" because that can be deleterious to one's life expectancy. But Kim was supposed to be the comedy dictator - the one it was safe to make jokes about. Now, as Scaramouche says, expect "a lot more faux-edgy lampooning of safe targets (ones who won't fight back via the hacking of computers or heads) a la The Book of Mormon".
Indeed. As I wrote a million years ago, for "brave" "transgressive" artists the best advice is:
If you're going to be provocative, it's best to do it with people who can't be provoked.
I suggested to Tommy Schnurmacher that there'd be nothing left at the multiplex but Iron Man 12 and Cardboard Man 37. It's always fun to get together with the colossus of Montreal radio, and we covered a lot of ground. Again, click below to listen:
Kathy Shaidle blames the lack of cojones at Sony less on Kim Jong-Un than on the grisly over-lawyering of American life. I made the point to Tommy that, for all the robust attitudinal expressions of American kick-assery, ultimately a liability culture trumps them and kills them. I made a similar observation with Hugh Hewitt:
MARK STEYN: You can have theoretical free speech rights, but... an over-legalistic, risk-averse, liability prioritizing culture, in the end, that will kill movies, kill novels, kill plays, kill everything.
Your in-house counsel trumps artistic expression. As for the First Amendment, what's the point of a constitutional protection saying the US government can't prohibit Americans from seeing your movie if foreign governments can prohibit Americans from seeing your movie?
At Breitbart News, Jeff Poor was struck by this excerpt from my Hewitt interview:
"I think it's actually a pretty serious story," Steyn said. "We're told all the time that American pop culture is the most influential force on the planet and that basically everyone around the world wants to be an American teenager, and this stuff is more influential than armies or that kind of thing. The fact is, American pop culture went up against some nickel-and-dime dictator on the other side of the planet and he won and they caved in nothing-flat.... The idea that Sony has less guts than a vulnerable Danish cartoonish who has Islamic thugs going to his daughter's grade school and wait for her after school – the idea that the Sony Corporation has less guts than a Danish cartoonist is very depressing."
Finally, from the Hewitt show, the connection between the evaporation of American power around the world and the vaporization of the big Christmas movie:
It's very easy not to be interested. Who can tell the difference – Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, all these guys are crazy - who cares? We're just going to stay at home and go to the movies. We're going to go to the multiplex and we're going to watch the latest lousy Seth Rogan movie.
But even the latest lousy Seth Rogan movie is at stake if you let the planet go to hell. And so you won't even be able to go to the multiplex and watch the lousy movie of the week, because some guy you've never heard of on the other side of the planet has just fired a missile straight through the big Christmas Day box office movie. And I think that actually, that's actually a very profound point - that you can't let the planet go to hell and expect to lead a comfortable, consumerist existence where you just go to the mall and to hell with the world.