If you're a typical right-wing conservative hoping to gauge the threat posed by Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, you hopefully weren't listening to Rush Limbaugh's radio show on June 18 — you might have left with a huge dose of false hope. Here is the Dittohead-in-Chief, offering fatherly consolation to a teenage girl who wanted to know how to best protest the film:
I found out that Moore is lying about the number of screens his movie is playing on. He's out there saying it's going to be on a thousand screens, then he revised it down and said it's going to be on 700 screens, then he says no, we'll get it on 600 screens. Turns out it's on 412 screens now. That's the screens where it is scheduled to appear, 412 only.
What a difference a week makes. On June 25, Moore's hilarious Bush-slapping phillipic opened in over twice the number of theaters Rush claimed, and became the Number One movie in the country, a fairly impressive feat considering that the movie's nearest competition — White Chicks and Dodgeball: The Movie — opened with triple the screens.
For the moment, I'd say the numbers say about everything you need to know about the mood of the country. Over half the voting public rejected George Bush for the White House, half (more or less) think he's doing a shitty job, and I suspect it was a kind of "representative half" that came out to see him drawn and quartered Moore-style.
If my Friday evening viewing is any indication, this is the kind of movie that people who don't watch movies turn out to see. It wasn't a movie crowd. It was a crowd of Democrats: young people, progressive grannies, hippies, dogmatic leftists, the two or three people in town with Kucinich stickers and — so I gathered from the restless vibe that settled over the house as we watched trailers for one blockbuster after the next — people who would only come out to see a movie if it was "true."
Whether that's what they were watching is debatable, at the very least; like all Moore's movies, Fahrenheit 9/11 is a creatively edited melange of both original and funniest-home-video moments (as well as some flat out disturbing ones), layered with nifty cool musical cues, and it's forceful and impassioned eventhough I can't say I ever was able to completely lay my skepticism aside.