The Republican 2012 Presidential race, which has given us so much pleasure, remains in flux. Mitt Romney holds a lead, but is unacceptable to “the base” because he once tried to help uninsured sick people; thus, various fringe candidates compete ferociously (and that is the right word) for the right to represent the most hardcore GOP voters in the fray (e.g., “[Herman] Cain: Americans should be able to ban mosques“).
Help them, Sarah Palin, you’re their only hope! Like Eva Peron, the former Alaska governor has played coy with the conservative base, which only inflames rightbloggers’ ardor to put her on the ticket.
Which may explain why, when Palin opened a documentary film about herself last week in a few theaters to small crowds, rightbloggers treated it as if it were an earth-shaking triumph, and the resuscitation of their Palinoid fantasies.
We have not seen the Palin documentary, which is called The Undefeated. Though rightbloggers usually don’t let this stop them from reviewing films, we were raised better, and so refrain from offering artistic judgement. (We will note that the film received a rating of zero percent at Rotten Tomatoes.)
As to the film’s box-office performance, its opening was modest. Or massive, depending on from whom you heard about it.
“The Undefeated Apparently Had A Better Gross Revenue Per Theater Average Than Nearly Every Other Movie Sans Harry Potter,” said Conservatives4Palin. They provided a list supporting this conclusion. It began: “The Undefeated: $2870. Transformers: $1608.”
Which is true: According to Conservatives4Palin’s source, for Friday alone, Transformers: Dark of the Moon did indeed take in about $1608 per screen.
But the Transformers film, in its third weekend, accomplished this on 3,917 screens. The Undefeated opened on ten screens. No, that’s not a typo: ten (10) screens. The Palin doc’s Friday gross was thus $28,700, while that of Transformers was about $6.3 million.
So what does this portend for The Undefeated? Let’s see what happened with another heavily-politicized film event, the debut of the film version of Atlas Shrugged in April.
That film opened in 299 theaters, receipts for which, we were told at the time, promised an epochal hit and an Ayn Rand revival. But in its second weekend, Atlas Shrugged expanded to 465 screens — and took in about half as much money as it had in its opening weekend. Shortly thereafter, its producer abandoned his plan to bring the film to 1,000 screens.
Now, it’s not written in stone that The Undefeated will follow Atlas Shrugged‘s dismal trajectory. But neither does its tiny opening suggest a world-beater. Still, rightbloggers treated it like the debut of a Star Wars film.
“Strong Opening for ‘The Undefeated,'” said Texans for Sarah Palin (and the film’s press release). “‘The Undefeated’: Out of the gate strong,” said the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis. “‘The Undefeated’ Roars to Big Opening Day… Theaters Sell Out From Atlanta to Orange County,” said Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit.
“Big Demand For The Undefeated Drives Broader Release,” said Dan Riehl — but then, just about any release would be broader than the film’s opening. (Riehl was working from the film’s publicity materials, which constituted most of his post and included a claim of “standing ovations at most screenings.”)
“Palin Film Opens Strong, Theaters Packed,” cried the Fox Nation Blog. The actual article showed less to brag about: “‘The Undefeated’… 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.”
That doesn’t sound like… well, like much of anything. But Fox Nation went on: “Understandably, filmmaker Stephen Bannon was all smiles.” Well, you would expect a director on a film promo junket to smile, come what may.
If anyone didn’t see it the same way, rightbloggers declared, it was only because they were determined to destroy Sarah Palin. Never mind that such MSM outlets as Reuters (“Palin film starts soft, but distributor pleased”) and The Hollywood Reporter (“Sarah Palin Documentary ‘The Undefeated’ Claims Victory in its Box Office Debut”) had given the opening as gentle a spin as its makers could want; all discouraging words were anti-Palin Lame Stream Media etc.
“‘The Undefeated’ Playing to Packed Houses in Limited Run; Ignored by Dinosaur Media,” said Bloodthirsty Warmonger. “Media Predictably Ignore or Spin The Undefeated Successful Opening,” said Conservatives4Palin. “The Undefeated’ Sells Out Theaters Nationwide!” cried Coloradans4Palin. “…Of course, you wouldn’t know it from the snooty pooh-poohing from the lamestream media peanut gallery…”
At The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf reported visiting a theater playing The Undefeated to an empty, midnight-preview house. Though Friedersdorf is hardly a left-winger, his article was portrayed by the brethren as a typical LSM attempt to control what such people like to call “the narrative.”
“Filled with typical liberal snarkiness, is pretty telling in and of itself,” sniffed Wizbang.
Dan Riehl called the reporter “‘Pee Wee Herman’ Friedersdorf,” and added, “given that the Atlantic also has a negative review of The Undefeated up by a Robert Levin at the same time, I’m assuming at least Conor with one N appears to have had a date for the evening,” consistent with Riehl’s weird gay obsession.
“This story was quickly picked up and run by other media outlets,” said John Hayward at Human Events, “in an attempt to construct a ‘flop’ narrative, quickly rendered as hollow and irrelevant as an Obama economic prediction.” Hayward was just getting warmed up; he moved on to denunciations of Friedersdorf’s/The Left’s “shrieking hysteria,” “sexist fury,” “knuckle-dragging misogyny,” and claimed that John McCain threw the 2008 election on purpose, thus depriving Palin of the federal office she rightfully deserves.
Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood did its part. “Empty Theatre!!!: MSM Currently Brewing Up Phony ‘Undefeated’ Narrative,” ran the headline on John Nolte‘s Big Hollywood story. “This is how the corrupt MSM works. This is how they create phony narratives out of nothingness in order to attack and undermine their ideological enemies. Where’s the story about this? Or this?” Nolte’s questions were linked, respectively, to a Fox Nation puff piece and an item about the film selling out the aforementioned Grapevine, Texas theater.
“‘The Undefeated’: The Atlantic’s Phony ‘Empty Theatre’ Meme Falls Further Apart,” headlined Nolte’s colleague, Larry O’Connor. O’Connor countered Friedersdorf’s story by, first, pretending not to know the spelling of Friedersdorf’s name, and then telling readers he’d been to a showing that wasn’t empty, so there: “I can tell you,” O’Connor reported, “that at 10:45 this morning, the theatre was about 1/3 full and the audience sat riveted.”
Also, O’Connor found out from a theater manager that “there were six tickets sold to the midnight showing that Conoor[sic?] reported on. Six, not three and not one. Six.” Six tickets! It’s Gone With The Wind! Suck it, libtards!
“No more Leftist agit prop, no more leftist staged empty theaters,” announced Election 2012 Coverage. “Conor Friedersdorf wakes up to visible evidence that the article — Palin Movie opens to empty theater — was nothing but a fraud perpetrated by a man desperate to discredit the Palin Movie, THE UNDEFEATED, a movie people like him and his other progressive propagandists don’t want you to see… he, and his comrades in arms, failed to stand up to the overwhelming truth as the Palin movie opens to full theaters, to people being turned away because there was no more room to let people in.” (If you like that story, be advised Election 2012 Coverage provided several others, all apparently written by the same ESL student.)
“The premiere of The Undefeated was awesome,” said The Freedomist, “putting to rest the media’s lies about an ’empty theater’ for a midnight show nobody knew about. In fact in Orange County, California we had our best showing, selling out over 200 seats for the 7PM show!”
Though easily impressed by small numbers, The Freedomist seemed to sense that the film’s brilliance was not enough to keep momentum up, and told readers that “we need to rally retired people and self-employed people to come out during the week to these shows. If you have comp time or vacation time, don’t be afraid to use it and meet with some friends at the theater, or have an extended ‘lunch.'”
Etc. In normal film coverage, box office successes and failures are cold-bloodedly reported, even when they feature Hollywood’s biggest stars. But for Palin’s rightblogger acolytes, it doesn’t matter how many people actually saw, or will see, her film — it only matters that it is hers, and so must be acknowledged as a massive success whatever the numbers. Such loyalty may seem bizarre to outsiders, but the Palinites, like cult followers in all ages, don’t care, for their eye is on the sparrow — if they’re real good about promoting her latest piece of product, Palin may bless them, and America, by declaring for President. If she doesn’t, that means that they have failed, and must work that much harder to promote the next reality series or autobiography she puts out.
It’s good to have a purpose in life, especially if you don’t have much in the way of brains.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 18, 2011