Reviewing Breitbart: Docu-pic is box office boffo

But who's had a chance to see it?

WASHINGTON, November 3, 21012 – We finally managed to catch “Hating Breitbart” at the Ballston Commons Mall at Arlington, Virginia last weekend, and it’s a good thing we did. At some point this week, the film exited this theater as well as the three additional theaters where it originally opened this week and—finally—moved on to additional theaters in Scottsdale, AZ; Westminster, CO; Plano and The Woodlands, TX; and Appleton, Ashwaubenon, Brookfield, and Oshkosh, WI.

We’re not entirely certain what’s up with the apparently bizarre marketing campaign mounted by the film’s backers. It’s clear that the motivation behind the documentary was a sincere desire to offer the extended elegy for the late Andrew Breitbart that the media studiously avoided. But its initial release date, carefully timed to happen close to this November’s national elections, was obviously meant to help boost Republican turnout, not to mention at least recouping the film’s production costs.

So why run the film in only four paltry theaters until this weekend? It’s really hard to fathom.

You could blame it on the idiotic R-rating dumped on it by obviously biased MPAA raters, largely due to the frequent use of the f-word— plus other assorted profanities, something that gets a pass in nearly all PG-13 films these days. For better or worse, the R-rating tends to limit the number of theaters willing to air such a film, which, in the case of “Hating Breitbart,” was doubtless the intention of MPAA all along.

Add to that the probable fear of protests or violence—borne out during opening weekend at the Arlington theater. One of the more obnoxious lefties—who appeared as himself in the film—decided to play teenager during one of the screenings, disrupting it with loud, snarky remarks, the better to ruin the experience for people actually interested in seeing the film. He was ultimately ejected by the theater’s management and, presumably, went back to serve his usual Marxist masters at HuffPo and Media Matters. (We won’t bother to identify him or link to his online propaganda as he deserves neither.) But that’s what you can expect from today’s infantile left.

However, we also have to blame the film’s production and marketing team itself for “Hating Breitbart’s” incredibly slow and inept release pace and pathetic PR. Combined with the R-rating and the potential for Alinskyite disruptive tactics at theaters that air the film, the near-amateur release scheduling for this film has likely shot longevity on the silver screen and dimmed its effectiveness as a useful boost to Republicans fighting Campaign 2012.

Fortunately, the new batch of theaters airing the film starting this weekend does show some creativity—the bulk of venues are located in the swing states of Colorado and Wisconsin, both of which need all the help they can in motivating voters to pull the Romney-Ryan lever on Tuesday. This particularly pertains to election-weary Wisconsin voters who, courtesy of taxpayer-supported public employee union dues, have endured what seems like an election a month for the past two years.

But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the film?

Andrew Breitbart, speaking at February 2012 CPAC meeting in Washington, DC. (Credit: Gage Skidmore.)

Actually, quite good in a low-key way. To say that “Hating Breitbart” is an objective documentary would be a bit like saying that anything by film propagandist Michael Moore is an objective filmmaker. That said, “Hating Breitbart” is still not what you think. It’s a roughly chronological yet disarmingly casual look at Andrew Breitbart at his in-your-face best.

The film begins with a rudimentary bio before getting to the Breitbart that conservatives got to know and love—and miss bitterly after his shocking, premature death earlier this year at the age of 43. But it’s his crowd interactions and stump speeches that offer the most compelling look into the serious method behind his alternative journalism madness.

Andrew Breitbart confronting crowd of angry liberals.

Breitbart’s importance to the Conservative, Libertarian, and Republican parties and movements drew on one key innovation that only he, it seems, ever had the guts to implement. He simply embraced the tactics of the Gramsci-ite, Alinskyite, and Stalinist left and turned them back on the usual left-wing suspects, confounding and infuriating them. It’s these surprisingly funny confrontations with career lefties that prove the highlight of this film.

Breitbart recognized that the Republican, Libertarian, and Conservative masses—their identities carefully concealed from one-another by the MSM’s Journolista-style strategy of attacking key figures opposed to the left while studiously ignoring the rest of them—could unite into an alternative journalistic force. This they could accomplish by deploying modern, leading-edge, and readily available communications devices like digital cameras and smartphones to capture material in opposition to the left; and then knit these raw materials together into a new, more truthful and representative narrative, thereby destroying the mainstream media’s death-grip on information dissemination.

Often under Breitbart’s inspiring leadership, new generations of Americans, long effectively silenced by the left-wing Democrat propaganda machine, erupted on the Internet in waves. The best of them, conservatives, libertarians, and even some independents—ranging from the Drudge Report (the granddaddy of all such sites, which, unsurprisingly, gave Andrew Breitbart his start) to Instapundit, to Belmont Club, RedState, Ann Althouse and beyond—continue to provide anyone who cares to click one of their many links with all the political and economic information the elitist left never wanted them to know.

Using quick-cut, anecdotal scenes, “Hating Breitbart” shows Andrew and his team of conservative Merry Pranksters in action, infuriating and defeating the left time and time again by turning their guerilla propaganda tactics against them. As we indicated earlier, what’s surprising about these various forays is just how funny and effective they are.

Andrew Breitbart brandishing his New Media sign.

What we soon come to understand as this film unfolds is that the left simply hates being laughed at. Further, they have no idea how to respond to a real intellectual challenge. Depending on their tried and true tactic of answering facts with slanders and smears in order to discredit the messenger, their ability to respond effectively to an intelligent argument has atrophied.

Speaking to one another for decades in a left-wing echo chamber, leftist elites have entirely lost the ability to respond rationally to a genuine argument from the opposition. That’s something we witnessed vividly in this fall’s first debate when President Obama floundered in his first encounter with the real Mitt Romney. In person, Romney proved disciplined, formidable, in command of the facts, and vastly different from the mythical, two-dimensional cartoon Obama was expecting to trounce without much of an effort. From Obama on down, it’s an absolute delight to see these party apparatchiks confounded by Breitbart’s refusal to accept their pathetic bait.

That said, the film segment that deals with Breitbart’s controversial offer of a significant monetary reward to anyone who could document alleged Tea Party racial misbehavior on Capitol Hill went on way too long, possibly because the filmmakers themselves felt a need to justify Breitbart’s counter-attack against a determined band of Democrat race-baiters.

Given the circumstances, this portion of the film seems a bit defensive and needlessly so. A little trimming at this point would have maintained the film’s generally light-hearted pace without doing damage to “Hating Breitbart’s” narrative. (BTW, no one has ever collected on the award offer, now $100K, essentially proving Breitbart’s point.)

One of the film’s more interesting riffs is the portrayal of Breitbart’s mentor-relationship with James O’Keefe, a young, “60 Minutes”-style ambush journalist. To date, O’Keefe’s most famous stunt was recording, on film, his successful unmasking of ACORN’s unscrupulous and illegal activities supporting voter fraud in an earlier electoral campaign.

It’s ironic that, not long after “Hating Breitbart’s” initial release, we’ve found O’Keefe at it again. This time, the venue was Northern Virginia where he managed to get the son of liberal Congressman Jim Moran (D-Alexandria) to provide helpful hints on how to inflate the vote count. Still playing out, but given scant attention by DC area media, O’Keefe’s latest efforts led to the younger Moran’s resignation from his father’s campaign.

To the extent that it ever reaches much of an audience—a tough sell after the election—“Hating Breitbart” is actually as upbeat a bio-pic as you’re likely to encounter on the silver screen. Breitbart was arguably the Conservatives’ answer to Hubert Humphrey, a genuinely Happy Warrior. He believed passionately in his cause.

More presciently, Breitbart determined, correctly, that the Internet, when combined with input provided by new generations of all-in-one communications devices, could transform the journalistically-deprived political center and right with a fresh new voice freed from generations of ruthless left-wing censorship.

These new journalists can—and will—eventually displace the hatemongering, largely faux-Marxist elites intent on silencing or exterminating anyone who dares oppose their Long March toward the clear disaster of modern Euro-socialism.

But, as “Hating Breitbart” amply illustrates, they’ll now have to forge on without their funniest—and most inspirational figure at the helm.

Although we seem to have lost the link, one writer recently summed up the situation this way: “At his formidable peak, Breitbart was conservatism’s most inspirational leader. His leadership has ended. The inspiration remains.”

We highly recommend “Hating Breitbart,” not only to true believers but to those undecided types who might want to take another look at the gadfly the radical left still loves to hate. The film is funny, it’s an eye-opener, and, in spite of its language usage, it’s really pretty much PG-13 when you consider the prevalence of sophomoric dreck that passes for cinema entertainment these days.

If you’re lucky enough to live near one of the theaters listed in our link above, try to catch it this weekend before the film leaves town, though. Given its molasses-in-January nationwide roll-out, it could be 2016 before it reaches Cleveland.

Rating: *** (Three out of four stars.)

Official film trailer:

Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington Times Communities. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities columns, The Prudent Man and Morning Market Maven, in Business.

Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17


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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times (1994-2009). 

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