In case you hadn't heard, "Sin City" is officially a big hit. In it's opening weekend, the hyper-stylized, ultra-violent film handily outgunned the PG-13 romantic comedy "Beauty Shop," and though it was unseated from first place the following week by the heavily-promoted "Sahara" it still managed to outgross another cutesy-poo romcom in "Fever Pitch." In strictly Hollywood-business terms, the pic earned back it's $50 Million budget already and is on track to becoming substantially profitable for the studio (especially when the ancilliary marketing and innevitably big DVD push kick in.)
This is all rather surprising and significant, primarily because few were expecting a black & white, highly-expressionistic noir-homage splatterfest; to say nothing of one based on a strictly cult-item run of graphic novels, to have much in the way of crossover appeal to mainstream audiences. Yet that's exactly what's happened, and it's leaving a lot of people searching for the words to explain the success away.
Specifically, the always-delightful pro-censorship crowd is (for a change) at a loss for words here: If, as we keep being told, the country is undergoing a "spiritual reawakening" and a return to "traditional values;" then how does a film where thuggery, prostitution and gunplay are the face of a psuedo-chivalrous heroic-ideal while organized religion is comprised of equal parts corruption, pedophilia and cannibalism become the number one film in the country? Sensible people, of course, will tell you that the film was full of popular actors, heavily hyped and well-reviewed, thusly a great deal of people were curious to see it. Many others, like myself, would add that it's a damn good movie, which usually doesn't hurt a film's chances of making money. And still others, also like myself, would tell you that a majority of the country is still made up of free-thinking, independent folks with minds of their own who don't need the censorship lobby to tell us what we should and should not be watching.
But for the enemies of freedom who make up the censor crowd this simply won't do. Their entire schtick is based on the carefully-cultivated mythology that "the media" is controlled by a secular liberal (read: anyone who disagrees with them) cabal, and that violent or sexually-explicit material is being "forced" on a public which, if said cabal was to be overthrown, would demand only entertainment which envinced the "good, old fashioned Christian values" the censor lobby prefers. When a film like "Sin City" or a show like "Desperate Housewives" is a major hit, it throws the censors for a loop because it shows the fallacy of their claims by preventing them from pretending to speak for "the mainstream" and instead exposing their true face as anti-freedom, anti-First Ammendment, anti-Constitutional radicals who's agenda has little to do with the common man and very much to do with installing a regressive theocracy.
L. Brent Bozell, leader of the "watchdog" group the Media Research Center and the anti-freedom organization "Parents Television Council" is the current vangaurd of the censorship movement, so you can bet he's got something to say about this. The success of "Sin City" is just the latest thing to make his entire so-called belief system look completely foolish, and you can see him struggle to explain it all away HERE:
(owing to technical difficulties, click link and scroll to entry titled "Sickos celebrate Sin City."
Money quote: "It’s fine to appreciate the art of something, but not to the utter exclusion of a social conscience. Film is not just entertaining, it can be intoxicating. It can be a very malignant influence. Can you sit on the fence as this cinematic disease spreads? Just wait until the "Sin City" DVD starts traveling around in teenager backpacks."
Please note, with irony, the way he here co-opts the old leftwing-socialist premise of the "social conscience," here infering that the film should be low-rated for not envincing the particular political beliefs of Bozell and his cronies. See also use of terminology like "intoxicating," "malignant influence" and "disease" to subtly prop up the undying yet completely unproven and unprovable dictum of the anti-freedom pro-censorship canon that such films will innevitably cause some sort of societal decay and/or imitated behavior. And finally the image of the "teenager backpacks," speaking of the film as though it's some kind of sinister underground cult-item instead of a hugely-popular boxoffice smash playing at every multiplex in the country to sizable crowds.
What Bozell and all of his ilk will either never understand or always pretend not to understand is that the success of any controversial film, whether it's "Sin City" or "The Passion" is a quintessentially American thing: Despite what the anti-freedom, anti-First Ammendment, anti-Constitutional censorship-lobby may wish, we are free to choose, and we have chosen to be free.
The battle continues.