October 10, 2008

Newsbusters on An American Carol

Yeah, yeah: any pattern is a conspiracy. I've heard it all before.

Once again, we see the long knives sharpened against the right by employing innuendo and outright lies. This time it is against the movie An American Carol. On Tuesday, I reported that there was some concern that ticket sales for the movie were being diverted to other movies at certain theaters across the country. But I never said there was a "conspiracy" to do so.

The filmmakers also attempted to do some detective work to find out the veracity of the claims. But they didn't call it a conspiracy either. Apparently simply asking the question, though, is too much for Wonkette and Huffington Post to handle. They had to gin it up as some wild-eyed claim of a "conspiracy" on our part.

. . . . . . . . . .

In the blog's typical unprofessional style, Wonkette claimed the filmmakers are saying some great, leftist conspiracy is destroying the movie. The next day, an entry at the Huffington Post asserted the same thing. From there the lefty blogs took over to add to the din. Unfortunately for their hyperbole, the movie folks never asserted any such thing (for that matter, neither did I).

In fact, the folks that produced An American Carol went so far as to take down their page offering movie-goers a place to report incorrect ticket sales. I have been told by a spokesman from Mpower pictures that they had no intention of claiming there was some nationwide conspiracy being mounted against their film and that they will not be making any further public comments for the time being.

But there have been reports from many theaters that, among other things, fans have been handed tickets stubs from other movies instead of from the one they came to see. It was the responsible thing to do, in my opinion, to give fans a place to report the matter if they felt they had been one of those defrauded.

The concern here is if individual theaters or their employees were purposefully crediting ticket sales to films other than what should be credited.

. . . . . . . . .

This isn't the first time, though, such a thing has happened to politically charged products. Spike Lee has for decades complained about these sort of things, yet no one is attacking him for saying the same thing. And, we all have heard time and again the reports that books published by conservative radio and TV personalities have been hidden in books stores so that sales are hindered. Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly, they have all seen reports of this sort of thing.

Even so, no one is claiming that the booksellers are secretly conspiring to hinder book sales. What we are saying is that there are many millions of people out there that are not above taking it upon themselves to defraud or hinder the sales of politically charged products like books and movies. This is the case with An American Carol. If lone employees or individual theater owners are pulling a fast one on the film, it should be exposed. But, no one is saying there is some vast left-wing conspiracy going on.

The differences being that if I can't find the book I want at a bookstore, I can simply buy it online, and consuming it will be the same experience. It's very rare for centrist/libertarian films to make it into theaters in the first place; we usually have to buy the DVDs online (as with Mine Your Own Business, about the problem of poverty in Eastern Europe, and how it is exacerbated by misguided Western pseudo-environmentalism), or go to the one venue where something like Indoctrinate U or Expelled will be playing, for one night, in an obscure auditorium right off of Diagon Ally. Wearing hats and dark glasses, lest someone take a picture of us watching one of Those Movies.

I wonder if the limitations on film distribution are related to the fact that revival houses are largely dead: killed by cable TV, VHS tapes, and then DVDs. One used to at least be able to see something that wasn't 100% mainstream at the Fox Theatre, or at the Nuart. Or at one of the Laemmle Theatres. (Okay. Those are still around.)

But doesn't it seem like we're less motivated as a population to go see movies as part of a shared experience in a public square, and more inclined to stay at home, watching films in our little cocoons? I acknowledge that the wine is better, here—and the snacks are cheaper. Also, when one's spouse is in a good mood the movie gets paused whenever I get up to pee—a rare occurrence in a cineplex. Nonetheless, I feel as if something has been lost culturally with the more homogenized fare we're getting in theaters, and the fact that we tend to only see quirky stuff from our overstuffed couches.

Maybe it's just me.

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