Almost unquestionably the greatest film ever made – well, definitely a lot funnier than Citizen Kane, Battleship Potemkin or The Seventh Seal – is Team America.
I like its can-do all-American spirit. I like the puppet sex scenes. I like the montages. I like its healthy attitude to foreign cultures. I like the uncharacteristically un-wooden performance by Matt Damon. And of course I love the songs – Everybody Has Aids; America: Fuck Yeah! [which I think should replace the Star Spangled Banner as the new, alternative US national anthem, once Obama has gone] and, of course, its moving, sensitive account of how it must feel to be the hated leader of the world’s most crackpot Stalinist state, I’m So Ronery.
So I’m very sorry to hear that Paramount has gone and done that most un-American thing and capitulated in the face of the enemy by banning the film from being screened in movie theatres as a replacement for that film Sony has just withdrawn, The Interview.
Paramount was apparently keen to avoid going the way of Sony and having its dirty laundry aired in public by crack teams of North Korean hackers. But I think it missed a trick here. Rather than ban the film, all it needed to do was drop a line to the North Korean Ministry of Information explaining that Team America, far from being a celebration of American values, is in fact a piece of viciously anti-American agit-prop right up there with the collected works of Michael Moore, Spike Lee and Naomi Klein.
Admittedly that’s not how I watch it. When I watch Team America I watch it straight (as I do Starship Troopers). But that doesn’t mean that – for those who are interested in noticing that kind of thing – there isn’t a mildly subversive subtext in its sly, occasional hints that maybe the US isn’t the be-all and end-all of intelligence, sophistication, subtlety and deft foreign policy. Indeed, some might even argue that its very theme tune – America: Fuck Yeah! – is not to be taken at face value and that it hints at a gentle critique of gung-ho American imperialism.
The other reason I’m disappointed in Paramount is that I believe, au fond, almost everyone in Hollywood is at least twice as evil as the late Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un.
Though the Pyongyang regime comes in for a lot of stick for its human rights record, I think mankind owes it an enormous favour for leaking those emails in which senior Sony executives are caught out making inappropriate racial jokes about President Obama’s presumed movie tastes, and telling us what they really think about Angelina Jolie’s talents.
It certainly makes a pleasant change from all those gushing magazine features in which Angelina coyly reveals how tough it is trying to think up interesting new names for her latest adopted multi-ethnic kids while simultaneously dealing with Brad Pitt’s sex drive and spreading peace and harmony throughout the world while being the sexiest sex goddess in history and being a fantastically successful actress/director/future Nobel-Laureate.
In fact, when you think about it, Pyongyang and Hollywood have an awful lot in common. One day you’re the star of the show with your runaway hit Excellent Horse-Like Lady, the next you’re being fed into a cage of fifty starving dogs. Frankly they deserve each other.