The Rubes Shiver in the Cold, Waiting for Crumbs of Culture to Fall

Fancy that. An article on Page 3 of yesterday’s New York Times arts section on, of all things, little old Ann Arbor.

Nothing laudatory or complimentary, of course; just the usual snide satisfaction the Times gets from giving the upturned-nose treatment to anything west of the Delaware River. The hed: “Sure, You Can Watch the Oscars, but Can You See All the Nominated Movies?” Oh, those poor benighted souls in Michigan: they can’t even watch all of the Oscar-nominated movies without waiting for six months for them to come out on DVD! One woman standing in line at the Michigan Theater waiting for tickets to “Hotel Rwanda” is described as though she were waiting for an organ donor. But that’s just the beginning. When the Times reporter finds out that two movies are just now coming to AA, she writes, incredulously:

“Vera Drake,” first released more than three months ago, will not play Ann Arbor until Friday, said a spokeswoman for Fine Line Features, which is distributing the film. And “The Sea Inside,” also from Fine Line, is not currently scheduled to play here, though it has been in a small number of theaters elsewhere across the country since December.

Snort! Those deprived fools won’t even see the latest Amenábar film! What pathetic creatures!

After a detour to explain why major film distributors think that cow towns are inappropriate places to grace with the cream of the cinematic crop, the Times reporter smirkingly notes that “Sideways” is the singular exception to the rule because it’s a film that became a cult hit (like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in 2002 or “Amélie” in 2001). “Sideways” is playing at three theaters in Ann Arbor right now, which apparently means, according to the reporter’s take on things, that it’s stale and obsolete. You might as well have “LOTR III” or “Chicago” still playing.

At that point, the reporter interviews a Michigan Theater ticket-taker from New Jersey who can barely lower her nose long enough to whine, “It’s kind of silly to even read any of the reviews that come out because it doesn’t pertain to your life in this small part of the world.” Ending on a positive note, the reporter quotes a UM prof who says he doesn’t mind waiting for the Important Movies to come to Ann Arbor, adding, “There are probably a lot of Midwestern cities that don’t get these movies at all. What if I lived in the Upper Peninsula or something?”

I have to say that the phrase that takes the cake for me is the reporter’s own description of the UP, which she colorfully calls “the state’s northernmost wilds,” as though it were just a few miles from the Arctic Circle.