Topic: Media Research Center
The Washington Post has detailed the grievance-based marketing that has been key to promoting the anti-abortion film "Unplanned" to a right-wing audience -- leveraging things like not getting advance reviews of the film by mainstream outlets (despite not offering the film to mainstream reviewers through the usual channels) and a brief suspension of the film's Twitter account (which even the filmmakers agree was not deliberate) for maximum publicity potential.
The Media Research Center has been a willing parter with the film's makers in exploiting such incidents to claim victimization and promote the film. Here's a few headlines that also tout the film's performance against such alleged discrimination:
- Pro-Life Movie ‘Unplanned’ Given R-rating, Creators Call It Unfair, Double Standard (no mention of the fact that the filmmakers could have simply edited the offending grisly abortion scene to get a PG-13 rating)
- Major TV Networks ‘Refused’ To Air Ads for Pro-Life ‘Unplanned’ Movie
- Twitter Suspends ‘Unplanned’ Pro-Life Movie Account, Blocks Followers
- An ‘Unplanned’ Success: Film Doubles Predicted Sales, Earns A+ Audience Score, Breaks Indie Records
- NY Times Finally Finds Pro-Life Hit 'Unplanned,' Offers Rebuttal Space: Still No Review
- Google Labels Pro-Life Film ‘Unplanned’ ‘Propaganda’ (no dispute about the accuracy of the characterization, just putting that label on the film)
The MRC's Tim Graham and Brent Bozell helped push the victimization narrative as well, whining about the lack of mainstream reviews (and repeating the Abby Johnson narrative myth without mentioning the fact that its truth is in dispute) and ranting about "cultural elites" dissing the film.
So when the Post pointed out this victimization narrative, Graham couldn't help himself and devoted an April 19 post to complaining that it was pointed out. Graham asserted that the Post could have simply bought a ticket to the film to review it, then huffed: "One could argue that a pro-life movie can claim 'victimhood' whether it's ignored or savaged by reviewers. But it remains obvious that a movie in over 1,500 theaters nationwide went unreviewed while smaller art-house films were evaluated."
Of course, no review of the film would have satisfied Graham -- if the Post had reviewed it and given it a negative review, Graham would simply rant that it was a biased review. It's a propaganda film, after all, and the propaganda is more important to Graham than the art that is important to movie reviewers.
Graham also failed to mention that his employer played a key role in amplifying "Unplanned's" grievance-marketing strategy.
Because Graham also can't help himself by beating an idea into the ground, he followed up with an April 29 post complaining that the Post movie reviewer who pointed out that the "Unplanned" failed to follow standard procedure in making the film available to reviewers "loved" a documentary film about "self-identified Satan worshippers." And he huffed: "This is where you can see that the Posties are not opposed to trolling. You just have to find the right targets. They adore the Satanists as progressive pranksters, because they don't believe in an almighty God in any way. Hornaday can't just admire them."
Graham is rather deliberately missing the point. The film about Satanists appears to tell their story in an intereseting, compelling way that doesn't push a predetermined narrative; "Unplanned" is the opposite of that.
Graham is essentially demanding that the Post give the film more free publicity. But hasn't his employer given them enough?
UPDATE: None of these MRC promotional posts mention the fact that the Twitter account for "Unplanned" included in one tweet the abbreviation "WWG1WGA," shorthand for "Where we go one, we go all" -- code for support for the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory. (The producers claimed this was a mistake by an intern.)