Kim Jong-un Promises War


HOLLYWOOD, California -- Could James Franco and Seth Rogen start a war? Until yesterday, that notion seemed absurd. But now, Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has promised 'merciless' retribution if Columbia Pictures releases the film The Interview, which stars both Franco and Rogen.

In a nutshell, The Interview is a comedy in which the two superstar's characters team up in order to assassinate Kim Jong-un. After realizing that the press are given unparalleled access to international dignitaries during media ops and conferences, the two plan to murder the North Korean leader during an interview. Admittedly, the nature of the movie is combative, and should be expected to draw criticism, especially from the real-life man who is caricatured and assassinated in the film.

But, is the movie an "act of war," as Kim Jong-un alleges? Few think so. But for years, North Korea has inflated their international ego with empty [yet still terrifying] threats. In March 2013, Kim Jong-un warned that he would attack parts of South Korea using nuclear weaponry which he did not yet possess. Since then, Kim Jong-un has proudly planned nuclear attacks on Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Obviously, the film is controversial, even to many who do not sympathize with Kim Jong-un or his agenda. To me, The Interview is a more inflammatory version of Team America World Police, which featured marionette characters, including a crew of American special forces who penetrate North Korea in order to foil Kim Jong-il's fictitious attacks against America. A main difference between The Interview and its predecessor are that the new movie stars a Kim Jong-un lookalike, which is more provocative than a war between puppets. And also, the fictional plot in Team America is actually true-to-life today, where Kim Jong-un promises war against those who oppose or disrespect him, even Hollywood creatives.

Essentially, Kim Jong-un is playing a dangerous game of chicken with Columbia Pictures, which is almost certainly a lose-lose proposition for North Korea. Either Kim Jong-un engages the United States government in so-called catastrophic attacks, or Kim Jong-un will publicly undermine his brawny remarks with failure to follow through. Inaction, following such severe threats, will certainly show the limitations of Kim Jong-un, no matter his Herculean confidence. Both outcomes will augment doubts about Kim Jong-un's executive rationale and international image.

While I understand how the movie can be incendiary to a North Korea audience, I feel that making a movie, a piece of art, about assassinating a world leader is far less offensive than a national government guaranteeing nuclear warfare against the people of the world. Kim Jong-un has little room with which to point fingers, especially in terms of needless threats against oppositional nations.

It is unlikely that Columbia Pictures will withhold the release of The Interview. After all, the First Amendment protects free speech and those who practice it. But as human beings, I believe we should be promoting love and peace more than division and homicide, especially in the art we produce.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

Related articles

Skin Color Wars


Powerful! In an era when money and fame or lack thereof is the prevailing currency of worth, it is sad to witness people judging each other on the specious notion of skin color.

I experienced this upon my return from Africa and never understood the self-hatred. Not only a must view for Black Americans, but also scroll down to watch a skin lightening commercial for the India market.

Will Bollywood reject you if you are too dark? Apparently so, according to the article below about India's Vogue Magazine featuring darker models.

Lost in the Machine | Metropolis

We must not define ourselves by freedom from religion, from abuse, from rape, from derision. From societal norms, from conformance, from acceptable compliance. From race, from the accident of geographical happenstance of birth or of life whether lived extraordinarily or pedestrian, with unsung aplomb, or within the rarefied strata of the new minted pantheon of 'celebrity' deities.

Read More

Nollywood | Bollywood


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 14:14 PM EDT, 25 January 2012

NIGERIA - Lagos is one of the most populace cities in Africa. It is also the seat of the Nigerian film industry which began in 1992 and is known as Nollywood. It is the third largest film industry in the world after India's Bollywood and Hollywood in the U.S. Nollywood produces 2,500 films a year most for under $15,000.

The Indian movie industry caters to a population of over 1.2 billion citizens, and Nigeria, roughly 158 million. These numbers are the reason Nigeria is the largest and most dominant film industry on the Continent. (Source: World Bank, World Development Population Indicators)

In 2011, Bollywood and Nollywood concluded plans to host a joint film festival for both movie industries to commemorate the 60th and 50th independence anniversaries of both countries respectively. As former British Colonies, this festival would have provided a venue and opportunity to strengthen the cultural and economic ties that have existed between India and Nigeria. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns the 8th ION International Film Festival was moved from Port Harcourt, Nigeria to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The first Nollywood movie, Living in Bondage, was incredibly successful and is credited with launching the booming film industry in Nigeria. The films produced in Nigeria are financed and sold by electronics merchants and sold all over Nigeria in open air markets. Prior to 1992 most of the movies sold in Nigeria were imported from America or China or other markets. Since the advent of Nollywood, Nigerians claim that they only watch Nigerian made movies because they get to watch themselves and enjoy their unique culture, jokes, and the hope for a better life these films inspire.

Nigerian producers assert that Nollywood has become the voice of Africa. Because it is such a robust market it has become the benchmark for African film industry. In the West, Bollywood films have come to define the success of a film industry in an emerging market. Even though the highly acclaimed "Slumdog Millionaire" is not a Bollywood film, many Americans with only a cursory knowledge of the industry may concur with one of the movie's stars, Anil Kapoor that the movie is reminiscent of the genre.

Indian movie stars are well compensated through lucrative movie contracts, commercial and video appearances and product licensing. By contrast, many Nigerian actors work for little or no money because many believe that investing sweat equity into Nollywood's film industry is an important contribution. These actors feel that they are part of an important social and economic movement that helps ordinary Nigerians to dream of achieving a better life.

Nigerians believe that Lagos like New York, is a place that will make you or break you. If you can make it in Lagos you can make it anywhere in the world because life there is so grueling. I remember even as a child the sprawling ghettos, the crumbling infrastructure, and how crime was a dominant feature of Lagos. It has not changed much in the intervening years despite the incredible wealth generated by the oil industry.

In the early 1970's the Nigerian citizenry were increasingly subject to wanton violence as soldiers returned home from the Biafra wars with no opportunities and weapons. These men subsequently turned to crime as a means of support and began to terrorize the population. The danger posed by these marauders crippled downtown Lagos which resulted in the closure of restaurants, movie theaters and other entertainment venues. Going to watch a movie in a theater could result in the loss of life or property.

This socio-economic reality contributed to the underground development of the film industry because it was no longer safe to go out to the theaters to watch movies. In fact, there are only three functioning movie theaters in Lagos and none of them show Nollywood films. Most of the Nigerian made films are sold directly to the consumer who then view them at home or in communal settings.

These films speak directly to this population of poor people who have come to Lagos in search of a dream. When Nigerians watch these films they not only see themselves in the characters to whom they can aspire, and it provides them with the strength to continue to strive and not to loose hope. The film "Living in Bondage," is similar to a Medieval "English Morality Play," because during the lead character's struggles to make it he is repeatedly tempted to rely on the old tradition of Juju and witchcraft. Ultimately, this path provides him with worldly riches he desires at the cost of his soul. After experiencing other challenges, the character is finally redeemed through his conversion to Evangelical Christianity.

In a nation that is 52% Muslim and 47% Christian, Nollywood producers have adjusted their product to suit consumer demand. As more and more people struggle to survive in the economic downturn that followed the devaluation of the Naira, they need more than escape, and religion has begun to fill this void.  One of the largest film makers in Nollywood is Helen Ukpabio who is the head of Liberty Gospel Church which has over 50,000 members and 78 churches. Throughout many of her films, she blames witchcraft as the source of suffering for most Nigerians and the reason why many of their souls will be damned to hell.

Her films have captured a large segment of the 80 million viewers of Nollywood by presenting stories which preach the doctrine of achieving peace, prosperity and salvation by overcoming obstacles with the help of the church and a hefty donation. Though it may not have been her intention, Ms. Ukpabio and other Nollywood directors and producers recognized an opportunity to leverage the industry by moving from pure escapism to marketing religion as the new panacea. Right or wrong, the direction in which Nollywood is moving can be viewed cynically as a ploy to fleece the downtrodden, or beneficently as a tool to bolster faith.  Only time will judge, but for now Nollywood remains a powerful symbol of Africa's ascendancy.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias

PBS | Women, War and Peace


Women, War & Peace is a bold new five-part PBS series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain. Spotlighting the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, it places women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframes our understanding of modern warfare.


Featuring narrators Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton, Geena Davis and Alfre Woodard, Women, War & Peace is the most comprehensive global media initiative ever mounted on the roles of women in war and peace

Watch on your local PBS station Tuesday nights from Oct. 11 to Nov. 8. Check local listings for air times.  (Source: PBS)

Our World, His Music | Armand Amar | Philip Glass

Our World, His Music | Armand Amar | Philip Glass

Much has been written about our world, man's adverse impact on the planet, and what needs to be done to save Earth. No doubt as our species continues to advance, our expansion and incursion into the remaining pristine corners of our planet will accelerate as we seek illusory security through the treasures the earth can yield to us. However, unlike our planet, our lifespan is akin to that of a flea, and like a dog with an itch, we will voluntarily or involuntarily be cast off. This perspective was best expressed by Dr. Iain Stewart's in the 2009 BBC program titled "Earth: The Power of the Planet." Dr. Stewart stated "in the long run, earth can cope with anything we can throw at it. We could clear all the jungles, but a jungle can regrow over a few thousand years. We could burn all earths’ fossil fuels, flooding the atmosphere with carbon dioxide but even then, it will take the planet only a million years or so for the atmosphere to recover even the animals we are wiping out will eventually be replaced by others equally rich in diversity as a relentless work of evolution continues. It’s only a question of time; the earth will be just fine. So all this stuff about saving planet earth, well that is not the problem: planet earth doesn’t need saving, earth is a great survivor. It’s not the planet we should be worrying about, it’s us."

Not withstanding that powerful sentiment, this post is tangentially about environmental issues, but primarily about the brilliant, contemporary composers Armand Amar and Philip Glass. Both of these composers possess unparalleled skills in weaving together the unique voices, languages and cultures of people around the world to tell compelling stories through film scores.

Read More