The reactions to both ‘The Interview’ and ‘The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher’ should be compared
This week, Sony pulled their controversial forthcoming film The Interview “in the interest of safety”. At the same time, BBC Radio 4 has stood by its decision to broadcast Hilary Mantel’s The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher on 9th January.
Whilst both decisions have attracted much commentary, little to no comparison has been made about how taste, diplomacy and decency should be considered in both cases. More importantly, anyone who supports the concept of freedom of speech, in my view, should stand with others who are of the view that both should be broadcast.
In the matter of Mantel’s book – which Lord Tebbit has described as a “sick book from a sick mind” – the liberal elite have defended this “imagination” of the killing of Margaret Thatcher by an IRA sniper whilst the right have reacted with fury. For themselves, the BBC commented that the 15-minute short is “dark and sharply observed” and stated that they would “not shy away from the controversial subject matter that features in one of the four stories read across the week”.
Meanwhile, The Interview – a 112-minute film about a fictional plot to kill the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – was cancelled by Sony on 17th December after threats of attacks on cinemas from a group of hackers named Guardians of Peace. In a recent warning they mentioned the 9/11 attacks and said:
“Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places… Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment”.
The decision by cinemas to refuse to show the film was described by the comedian Jimmy Kimmel as “an un-American act of cowardice that validates terrorist actions and sets a terrifying precedent” whilst others such as the actor Rob Lowe responded by suggesting that “Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today”.
The differences between the reactions to these two plainly tasteless pieces of drama are telling. That we leap to object to hackers stopping a film about a living man – even if he is truly repellent – yet rant and rave about a 15-minute drama about a dead woman – who was equally polarising – speaks volumes. Neither The Interview or The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher should be cancelled.
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