If ever was there a watermark for just how low in the cesspool we’re mired, the latest iteration of “Atlas Shrugs, Part I” is surely it. Consider the bizarrely plastic “screengrab” that Faux Nooz™ used to illustrate a ‘borrowed’ Reuters story and a ‘borrowed’ blog story:
This is Faux Nation’s plastic notion of an Audio-Animatronic®
‘screengrab’ to promote their ‘borrowed’ story (-ies),
minus the “audio” and the “animatronic” parts.
You see, Faux Nation (literally) was blaring this headline yesterday:
July 17, 2011
It may not be “Harry Potter,” but another film featuring a bespectacled protagonist is racking up strong pre-sales before its national roll-out this weekend.
“The Undefeated,” a glowing look at failed vice-presidential candidate and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has already sold out a show in Grapevine, Texas (population 46,000), according to the distributor Cinedigm.
Grapevine isn’t exactly a teeming metropolis but the film is set to roll out across Tea Party country in 10 AMC theaters.
In addition to Grapevine, the documentary by conservative filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon will expand to Indianapolis, Ind.; Independence, Mo.; Kennesaw, Ga.; Houston, Texas; Orlando, Fla.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Highlands Ranch, Colo.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Orange, Calif.
And it’s a lie, or, rather, a meta-lie encapsulating the more mundane garden-variety lies in a sort of Russian nested doll pattern.
A meadow muffin, sometimes called a ‘Redneck Frisbee’
Let’s start with the most egregious (and effective) lie in this whole steaming meadow muffin of a story:
Palin Film Opens Strong, Theaters Packed
Nope. A SINGLE theater was “packed” (from their evidence, that is). Here is the distortion of the original Reuters article. Headline?
Sarah Palin documentary sells out Grapevine, Texas
Which is clearly a headline error. A THEATER in Grapevine, Texas was “sold out,” not the entire town … ACCORDING to the distributor (who has no vested interest in accuracy, and which only entertainment reporters would cede credibility to … which is who wrote this!)
… has already sold out a show in Grapevine, Texas (population 46,000), according to the distributor Cinedigm.
So, based on that sentence, Faux Nation’s anonymous news conjurers have derived the laughably distorted ‘Palin Film Opens Strong, Theaters Packed.’
More interesting is what was suppressed by sleazy old Faux:
By Brett Lang
Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:43pm EDT
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap)
It’s an astonishingly short blog posting from Reuters’ film blog “The Wrap,” and half of it is less than complimentary. But remember, we’re dealing with an “entertainment” reporter, the only sort of reporter who would seek out a sports reporter as a journalistic practitioner to emulate.
(Q: What do you call somebody who likes to hang out with journalists? A: A sports reporter.)
This analysis is utter nonsense: “Grapevine isn’t exactly a teeming metropolis but the film is set to roll out across Tea Party country in 10 AMC theaters.”
Grapevine: conveniently located next to DFW International.
Grapevine, Texas is right on the northwest border of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, in the endless sprawl of Metroplex suburbs. “not a teeming metropolis”? Uh, duh. It’s another teeming suburb of one of the MOST teeming metropoli in the U.S. of A. I expect this kind of idiotic nonsense from an entertainment blogger, of course, and the sleaziness of Faux Nation’s careful headline substitution and subtle distortion that this is a story from “Reuters” and NOT from the Reuters entertainment blog is equally to be expected.
No teeming metropoliseses hereabouts. Nosirree.
But you might want to know why I’m bothering to swat a gnat with a shotgun.
It is SYMPTOMATIC. Symptomatic of a dangerous malady with which we’ve been infected before:
Getting lost in your own narrative “truth” is a well-known occupational hazard of press flacks, publicists and PR firms, but it is NO basis for any sort of journalism, nor for making rational policy decisions.
Case in point: As many Americans are dead from the made-up narrative of “WMDs” and “Saddam helped with Nine Lebbin” as DIED in “Nine Lebbin.”
And the magical thinking involved in the marketing of this “hit” motion picture has already mirrored the magical thinking of the Iraq invasion, minus the relative VALUE of those facts and their eventual consequences. It seems impossible to believe that hopefully lying about the Palin Campaign Documentary (and let’s not mince words, this is PRECISELY what it is) could cause the death of 3,000 Americans, of course. Not entirely impossible, of course, but close enough for government work.
(NOTE: The second portion of the Faux Nation notion is cribbed from a breathless, interview-with-the-director piece from a Kennesaw, Georgia blog reporting on the premiere showing with the director in attendance. What the anonymous Faux Nation blogger has done is create an entirely new reality from two ‘entertainment’ pieces in two separate venues. To go further would be to get lost in the weeds of this Frankenstein Story, stitched together from separate story parts and a created headline.)
What do we actually know? Not much, actually. The only figures released have come from the distributor, and the weekend gross is not what you’d call staggering in the face of Harry Potter’s record-breaking weekend gross. Here’s another entertainment blog from the Los Angeles Times that offers a pretty straightforward analysis (emphasis added):
The film’s box-office returns this past weekend have given us the next, and possibly more curious, phase of the debate. Bannon’s film, which covers the professional career of the former Alaska governor, took in between $60,000 and $75,000 when it opened in 10 markets, its distributor said.
According to pretty much all conventional box-office wisdom, that’s a miss. The film averaged only $6,750 per theater, a small number for any limited-release movie. ($10,000 or $20,000 is considered standard, and it’s not uncommon for movies to take in $30,000 or more.)
But those behind it had a different take. The distributor, ARC Entertainment, sent out a press release blaring a “strong opening for ‘The Undefeated,’ with multiple sold-out runs and vocal audience support.” In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bannon said that “to characterize [‘The Undefeated’] as anything less than a hit would be a mistake.”
Their reasons for why the numbers weren’t higher was the stuff of box-office contortion, citing everything but Carmageddon. Theaters were too small to accommodate the demand. The marketing spend was minimal. The pre-release preparation period was too short. “We didn’t put a nickel of P&A into this and the distributor had the movie for only three weeks.,” Bannon said….
But WAIT! Isn’t this a GINORMOUS MONSTER SMASH HIT?
Well, without getting into the weeds, consider the same behavior for this year’s earlier flop, Atlas Shrugs, Part 1:
And, the Minions of Murdoch are out in farce, offering such fare as (Fox Nation):
April 25, 2011
By Paul Bond
The power of Ayn Rand devotees has impressed some Hollywood distribution executives, who took note of the hefty $5,640 per-theater average scored by “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” during its opening weekend. “Shocking,” one executive said about the healthy business the low-budget film has been doing, considering its “awful” marketing plan.
Awful or not, business has been brisk enough for producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro to expand from 299 theaters to 425 this weekend and to 1,000 by the end of the month. They don’t have enough film prints to fill all the orders. “Things have turned for us,” Kaslow said. “When we started, exhibitors were not embracing the film like we thought they would. Now, we can pretty much go into as many theaters as we want. It’s just a matter of logistics.” …
And Fox News ran (for some bizarre reason) this official response from the Ayn Rand Institute …
Wished-for and hoped-for reality BECOMES reality, and that is breathlessly reported, goosing any ‘happy’ rumor or shred of information into a full-fledged proof of the RIGHTNESS of the narrative: PEOPLE LOVE Ayn Rand/Sarah Palin. Therefore, the PEOPLE ARE PACKING THE THEATERS!!!!!!!
In the immortal words of Sgt. Hulka (in Stripes): Lighten up, Francis.
Understand, we don’t actually know how the movie will do. The actual anecdotal information from 10 cherry-picked towns is sketchy, but good enough (allegedly) for a wider release this weekend, when audiences will be choosing between the Palin Picture and the Harry Potter and Captain America flicks.
WE DON’T KNOW. But that hasn’t stopped bloggers on both sides of the “issue” (about how many tickets a movie sells? Really?) from expressing, in the most vociferous of terms, the “reality” that has yet to be determined. Blogger Dan Riehl’s breathless review runs on Andrew Brietbart’s (who appears extensively in the film and gets appropriately osculatory a posteriori commentary) Big Hollywood:
While “The Undefeated” serves incredibly well as a film about Sarah Palin and could very well spark any potential Palin candidacy for 2012, beyond that, it is a remarkable commentary and critique on America’s current culture and politics – and it belongs in conservative political history books for that reason alone, if not more.*
For a more Palin-centric review, I’d suggest Jedediah Bila’s review at the Daily Caller: Palin’s record takes center stage in ‘The Undefeated’.
Many politicians don’t practice what they preach. They make campaign promises they rarely keep. And they love to talk ethics, transparency, and bipartisanship — until they are sworn into office, that is.
I’d also recommend Scott Conroy’s write up at Real Clear Politics – Palin’s Secret Weapon.
“This film is a call to action for a campaign like 1976: Reagan vs. the establishment,” Bannon told RealClearPolitics. “Let’s have a good old-fashioned brouhaha.”
[* Not actual English, but a clever simulation.]
Atlas Shrugs; Palin mugs. Thus far, the arc is the same.
Still not quite right, but closer
And, the idea of ginning up controversy as cheap advertising seems at least a part of the mix. Back on June 29th, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Director stated he’s going to release an “uncut version” claiming that all sorts of “controversial” and “violent” footage was removed. The reporter did some actual legwork and attempted to substantiate the claim:
… a source familiar with the MPAA submission process who asked not to be identified because that process is confidential said the group received just one cut, which wound up getting the PG-13.
I am all for reserving judgment in the face of underwhelming evidence. But I DO know that making up your reality to fit your preconceived hopes and dreams is invariably a mistake and often a tragic one. Witness Iraq. In fact, the opposite: making your hopes and dreams subservient to reality is the basis of various forms of Buddhism.
Having actually BEEN through the bankrupting, maiming and killing consequences of that form of magical thinking, it seems odd that some still hold on to the form, but then, it is CONSISTENT with the form. If you’ve ever attempted an intervention with an alcoholic, you’ll recognize the circling of the rationalization wagons.
In this case, the Seventh Cavalry arrives in the form of Fox News — Sarah Palin’s employer — quoting the film’s distributor with screaming headlines about jam-packed sellouts and cheering crowds. (And we all recall what great credibility the Murdoch News Empire is basking in at the moment.)
And they’ll shower us with rose petals when when we march into town.
From mighty meadow muffins do towering turd blossoms grow …
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.