I wasn’t familiar with the expression jumping the shark when it showed up on my Word-a Day calendar recently. That despite watching the TV show that spawned it, Happy Days.
In an attempt to maintain audience interest in the fifth season of the popular show, one episode had Henry Winkler, the lovable Fonz, jumping over a shark on water skis. An obvious gimmick meant to draw an audience, it actually accomplished the opposite. It was downhill from there for a show that rated in the top ten for three of its eleven seasons.
It would seem we’re seeing the reverse of that with the current controversy over Sony’s The Interview. A movie that according to most reviewers is not worth the price of admission, unless you’re a fan of Seth Rogen and/or James Franco (or is it Flacco?), will apparently now be playing to thousands. The plot and details surrounding the movie’s near release, withdrawal, and now partial release are headline news and the source of plenty of Twitter and cable news chatter. Americans don’t appreciate their right to free expression suppressed, even when the “art” is of dubious quality or redeeming value.
I have my own thoughts about Sony’s decision to make the movie in the first place. This is not the first time Hollywood has taken on an oppressive regime with satire. Charlies Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and Ernest Lubitsch’s To Be or Not To Be took on Hitler. Whether this particular plot was the right way and now the right time to make a point about North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is a question that will be argued for some time, I suspect.
What I find ironic about the whole incident is that Americans now appear to be ready to flock to a movie that many would not have given much consideration only a week ago. As one tweet noted, it’s the movie everybody wants to see in the theaters, but no one really wants to see.
But challenge our right to do so, and we kick back.
Maybe there’s a new idiom in the making.
Riding the snark(y)—all the way to the box office.