Millions of Internet users have paid almost six dollars each to watch an online movie called "The Interview." The film has deeply angered North Korea. It also has led many Americans to debate what actions to take when facing threats to free expression.
The controversial film is a product of Sony Pictures of Burbank, California. In the movie, two American journalists get a chance to meet with North Korean President Kim Jong Un. The Central Intelligence Agency asks the two to kill Mr. Kim, and they agree.
The Americans join forces with a woman officer in the Korean People's Army and shoot down the president's helicopter. This takes place just as he is preparing to launch nuclear missiles.
Some people criticize the film for plotting the violent death of a government leader. Others have said the film's storyline and situations are not at all serious. They say they are meant only to be funny. Still others praise "The Interview" because it shows the freedom of expression that American moviemakers enjoy.
The North Korean government was not pleased when it learned about the film. The government began to object publicly last June, months before "The Interview" was to open in theaters. North Korea called the movie "an act of war." It threatened what it called "merciless" reaction.
In November, Sony Pictures suffered a major cyberattack. A group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" claimed responsibility for stealing all kinds of material from Sony's computers. Movies were released online before their planned openings in theaters. The company lost millions of dollars.
The attackers also made public medical records of Sony employees and e-mails insulting movie stars. Altogether, the cyberattack has been a financial and public relations disaster for the moviemaker.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation worked to solve the mystery of the attack. It blamed North Korean hackers. But North Korea denied any involvement.
An intelligence group called Norse also investigated. It says at least one former Sony Pictures employee was responsible. The employee reportedly was angry after being dismissed by Sony. Both the company and the federal agency continue to say they have found the true attacker.
Whoever was responsible, on Dec. 16th Sony cancelled the planned release of "The Interview." It said most major theaters were refusing to show the film during the winter holiday season. The theaters noted threats made to their customers. Some said they would not show the movie at any time.
But a number of filmmakers, actors and politicians objected to the cancellation. Pressure built for Sony Pictures to release the movie. Many people wanted the company to show that threats could not suppress free expression.
President Barack Obama also offered his opinion on the issue. He said he sympathized with Sony's position. But he said the cancellation could have the effect of interfering with freedom of expression.
On December 23rd, Sony officials announced a limited release of the film. They said chosen movie theaters in the United States would show the movie on Christmas Day.
Mr. Obama has not said if he watched the movie. But he praised its release.
In North Korea, it would be hard for many people to see "The Interview" even if they wanted to. The Internet is highly restricted in the country. Many people could not pay to watch the film. And expert observers say those North Koreans who do watch it probably would be deeply offended and confused.
On a visit to Pyongyang in 2013, VOA reporter Steve Herman spoke with several North Koreans. He says they appeared to believe their state-operated media and education system. He says the people seemed to think that the U.S. and its allies want to harm North Korean socialism and development.
Other observers say it would be hard for North Koreans to accept "The Interview" for what it was meant to be – just a funny movie.
But could the film plant seeds of doubt about the North Korean government among North Korean citizens? Observers wonder if the freedom demonstrated in the movie could lead some North Koreans to question the tight controls of life in their country.
I'm Bob Doughty.
1.anger vt.& vi. 激怒；使发怒
The decision to allow more offshore oil drilling angered some Californians.
2.criticize vt.& vi.批评；挑剔
You are free to criticize my work.
The military were plotting a coup...
A lot of people will object to the book...
The military commander has been dismissed.
6.suppress vt. 镇压，压制
He was prepared to suppress rebellion by shooting down protesters.
It is a sacrilege to offend democracy.
1.Still others praise "The Interview" because it shows the freedom of expression that American moviemakers enjoy.
(1) Although we are very tired, still we shall work. 虽然我们很累，但我们还将工作。
(2) She was thirsty, still she wouldn't drink. 她虽然渴了，但仍不喝东西。
(3) I like cats; still I don't care to own one. 我虽然喜欢猫，但不愿意养猫。
(4) This is a very unpleasant affair. Still, we can't change it. 这是件很不愉快的事，但是我们无法改变它。 此外，still可以与more连用，相当于much more，常译“至于……更不必说” 。例句：
She can speak English, still more Japanese. 她连英语都会说，日语更不在话下。
2.But he said the cancellation could have the effect of interfering with freedom of expression.
Emotional problems can seriously interfere with a student's work.
数百万互联网用户花费大约6美元观看了在线影片《刺杀金正恩》。这部电影深深激怒了朝鲜 。这部影片还引发美国人辩论当言论自由遭遇威胁时应该采取什么样的行动 。
这部备受争议的电影由位于加利福尼亚伯班克的索尼影视公司出品。在影片中，两名美国记者有机会采访朝鲜领导人金正恩 。中央情报局要求这两名记者刺杀金正恩，后者同意了 。
有人对这部电影密谋暴力杀害政府领导人提出批评。也有人说，这部电影的故事情节和背景一点也不严肃 。他们说影片只是为了搞笑 。还有人称赞《刺杀金正恩》这部电影展示了美国制片人喜闻乐见的言论自由 。
朝鲜政府获悉这部电影后非常不满。该国政府于去年6月份开始公开反对，当时距离《刺杀金正恩》公开放映还有几个月的时间 。朝鲜政府称这部电影是一种“战争行为”，并威胁要进行所谓的“无情”回击 。
11月份，索尼影视公司遭到重大网络袭击。一个自称“和平卫士”的组织宣称对从索尼影视公司窃取各种资料负责 。电影在原计划的影院公开上映之前在网上发布 。该公司因此损失了数百万美元 。
一家名为Norse的情报组织也进行了调查。该组织表示，至少有一名前索尼员工应为此负责 。据报道，这名员工在被索尼解雇后怀恨在心 。Norse公司和联邦调查局还表示他们已经找到了真正的袭击者 。
无论相关责任人是谁，索尼影视公司都于12月16日取消了放映《刺杀金正恩》的原定计划。该公司表示，绝大部分主要影院都拒绝在假期放映该影片 。这些影院提到了顾客面临的威胁 。一些影院表示，他们任何时间都不会放映该影片 。
但很多制片人、演员和政治家反对取消影片上映。要求索尼影业发布该影片的压力不断增加 。很多人都希望该公司能够向大家表明，威胁是不能抑制言论自由的 。
奥巴马总统也提出了自己对该问题的看法。奥巴马说他同情索尼影视公司的处境 。但他表示，取消影片上映会干扰言论自由 。
在朝鲜，很多人都很难看到《刺杀金正恩》，哪怕他们想看。该国的互联网受到高度限制 。许多人不会花钱去看这部电影 。而专业观察员表示，看过这部电影的朝鲜人可能会被深深地冒犯和困扰 。
2013年，VOA记者Steve Herman访问平壤期间采访了几位朝鲜人。Herman说，朝鲜人似乎很相信他们的国家媒体和教育体系 。他说，朝鲜人们似乎认为美国及其盟国意图危害朝鲜的社会主义事业和经济发展 。