Monday night, Seth Rogen was a guest during the final week of The Colbert Report. Ordinarily, he isn't much of a "get," in talk-show parlance—he's funny, sure, but he always makes the rounds when he has a new movie, no big deal. But this was the first (and probably only) time that his appearance had legitimate news value, given that he co-directed and starred in Sony's supremely ill-fated The Interview, a movie that might well have taken down an entire movie studio and, ultimately, changed American foreign policy. (It certainly changed how hostile regimes will attempt to affect American foreign policy.) It has caused a seemingly never-ending cavalcade of headlines and scandal, hauling in figures from every aspect of American life, from President Obama to Angelina Jolie to poor Alex Trebek. It led to vague, 9/11-invoking death threats against any American who went to see the movie, threats apparently visceral and credible enough that a few days after the Colbert taping, The Interview would be pulled off Sony's release schedule entirely. And I, for one, was curious as to what the unwitting architect of all this would have to say for himself.
So was Colbert. One of the first questions he asked Rogen was, "Did you think about changing Kim Jong-un's name, calling him Phil Jong-un or something?" As usual, coming from him, that's a silly question that expertly masks a very serious one. The question isn't about actually naming him "Phil." It's really, "Did you understand the seriousness of what you were doing?" Rogen couldn't have known that all of this would happen, but certainly, when one makes a pricey, globally marketed movie about the United States government assassinating a well-known, still-reigning international tyrant who has openly threatened American citizens in real life, it's fair to expect everyone involved to have thought this through.
I am not sure Rogen thought this through.