Zarqa Nawaz is the author of Laughing All the Way to the Mosque and the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Dear Kim Jong-un,
Thanks to you, Christmas came early for Muslims this year. Just when we were starting to lament that all the wack-job megalomaniacs in the world belonged to us, you showed up. All eyes moved away from the Middle East and focused on wherever it is you are. So you get to carry the crazy-terrorist mantle for a few days at least.
And all because Hollywood made The Interview, a satirical film about two incompetent television producers coerced by the CIA into assassinating you. Why are you so upset about this film? I doubt anyone from Good Morning America has suddenly been inspired to book a flight to a heavily guarded military airbase in your country anytime soon.
My sense is this: You think the film makes you look like an idiot. You would have preferred a more dignified aura to surround your character, maybe even one explaining your grievances against the West (and the South, and pretty much the rest of the world). I have one word for you. Well, maybe twelve words. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. When Kazakhstan first learned that Sacha Baron Cohen was playing a dim-witted, misogynistic Kazakh who has a weakness for wearing a lime-coloured mankini, they considered having a fit and banning the film. But then cooler heads prevailed and the country decided to embrace the film instead. As result, tourism increased tenfold and brought cultural currency to a country that most people hadn't heard of before. For sure, it was a troubling portrayal on many levels, but by not over-reacting, the film ended up being a useful tool in diplomacy.
At least you have Seth Rogan and James Franco in your film. Diplomacy aside, this film could have done one critical thing for you – humanized you at a time when you could use it. Your country is crippled by economic sanctions. Even your Axis-of-Evil buddies have seen the light. Iran is sending peaceful overtures to the United States and both it and Iraq are fighting the Islamic State, which you've managed to get off the front pages – which is not easy, so congratulations for that.
With Cuba patching up its differences with the States and moving on, the Axis of Evil may be just down to just you. North Korea is a little-known country that many feel is a bit weird and creepy. By hacking Sony and threatening Sept. 11-type violence against innocent theatregoers, you're not helping change your image. In fact, you may just have given the United States reason to go after you. Iraq was attacked for having Weapons of Mass Destruction that never actually existed. Your WMD actually do exist.
In the immortal words of the late, great film critic Pauline Kael, "movies are so rarely great art, that if we cannot appreciate great trash, we have very little reason to be interested in them." The Interview is not going to win an Oscar. It's not even great trash, and would probably have had a quick death in the box office. But now, thanks to you, it's going down in the history books.
So call off the cyber attacks, roll out the red carpet and invite Seth and James to Pyongyang for a proper North Korean premiere. Dennis Rodman can help soothe over frayed nerves. After all, it's more important to have the world laugh with you than at you. Or, more importantly, blow you up.