Defending Sarah Palin is as enjoyable an activity for me as watching a televised sporting event; however, I thought this article in “The Atlantic” about her dubiously named documentary “The Undefeated” ranked pretty high on my patented Absurdity Meter.
When the clock struck 12:01 am today, AMC theaters in select cities were permitted to start showing “The Undefeated,” a feature length documentary about Sarah Palin. As it happens, I’m visiting my parents in Orange County, Calif., home to one of just 10 theaters where the film is being rolled out. Watching it didn’t interest me so much as going to interview folks who decided to attend. I figured I’d meet some nice people, perhaps run into someone who knows my grandparents, press five or six Palin fans on why they like her, and convey their worldview.
Really? The author believed that there was story potential in attending the midnight showing of a documentary? Unless it’s in 3D and features transforming robots, superheroes, or bespectacled wizards with English accents, the only people at a midnight film are either selling drugs or their bodies or both (usually a 10% discount if you go for the deluxe package).
I hurried through the teenage hordes, bypassed a concession stand that sold 1,020 calories of soda for $5.25, and entered theater number 30, hoping I’d have ample time before the previews to talk to some people. But inside, the theater was empty. I sat there alone for 20 minutes, at which point an usher stuck his head in the door, gave me a quizzical smile, and said, “How come you’re not watching Harry Potter?” Then he left me by myself again, and without any good answer.
What’s curious is that if the author had attended a weekday showing, perhaps in the afternoon, the results would have been similar but without the “aw shucks” silliness of stacking the deck this way. As a “clueless correspondent” bit on “The Daily Show,” this might get a pass but instead it opens the door for more accusations of media bias against Palin. When in reality, the article winds up serving as an extended advertisement for a cinematic love letter to the one politician who makes Ross Perot seem like a model of stick-to-it-ness.
By the way, I did see a weekday afternoon showing of the “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop” documentary a couple weeks ago. The NYC theater was practically empty, which is mostly useless anecdotal data rather than actual facts about its performance. According to Box Office Mojo, the film has made $231,594 so far. I will wait to see what the site reveals about “The Undefeated.” Unfortunately, “The Atlantic” article is being used as an actual source for multiple reports online. Some even point out that it failed to best “Harry Potter,” which is an absurd observation anyway. Of course, it didn’t beat “Harry Potter” — one of the most anticipated films in years. The only movie — let alone a documentary — that would have stood a chance would be “Angelina Jolie Showers.”