Contact: Donna Ladd
601-362-6121, ext. 5 (Cell: 601-966-0834)
“We wear shoes, we have running water, and we’ll pay to see art that makes us think–if we’re given the chance.”
Jackson, Miss. — June 24, 2004 — Calling their effort “Fahrenheit 601,” a group of determined Mississippians have launched a grass-roots campaign to get the controversial Michael Moore documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” to a movie theater in the Jackson area. Currently, only one Mississippi theater — Malco in Tupelo in North Mississippi many miles from Jackson — plans to show the film.
This effort to bring the film to Jackson, the state’s largest city and its capital, started on the Web blog of the Jackson Free Press, the state’s only alternative newspaper, after editor Donna Ladd posted an entry on June 19 about opponents of the film trying to pressure U.S. theaters into not showing it. Jackson Free Press readers immediately started posting their own comments, and urging each other to call the theaters and ask for the movie, and tell their families and friends to do the same. Some readers called corporate offices of the theater chains, and at least one reader wrote Michael Moore directly about helping get the film to Jackson.
“I’m not Michael Moore’s biggest fan,” Ladd said, “but I am devoted to free speech and expression. All Americans–including Mississippians–should be able to see this film and make up their own mind about what’s in it. I’m offended that anyone would assume that Mississippians aren’t interested in this film. We wear shoes, we have running water, and we’ll pay to see art that makes us think–if we’re given the chance.”
On Thursday, June 24, blogger Knol Aust, a Web designer, posted a special page on his Web site to collect names for a petition to be presented to local theaters, dubbing the campaign “Fahrenheit 601: The Area Code at Which Expression Burns.” The petition collected 50 entries in a mere 45 minutes, and is steadily building.
“We must band together to dispel myths about Mississippi,” Aust said. “This state is filled with intelligent, thinking individuals who can handle controversial topics. We encourage other Mississippians, regardless of political views, to join us to help demand equal access to this film.”
The Jackson Free Press will present the petition, as well as the growing blog entry (87 posts to date), to theaters as evidence that there is a community of film-goers in Jackson who do not want to drive to another city or state to see this documentary. According to one blogger on the JFP site, almost every other metropolitan area between Texas and Georgia in Jackson’s size category (250,000 to 500,000 total population) is showing the film: Mobile, Ala.; Montgomery, Ala.; Pensacola, Fla.; Baton Rouge, La.; Shreveport, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Fayetteville, Ark. Furthermore, the film is shown in almost all metros (smaller than 250,000 people) in Tennessee, Northern Arkansas and western Texas.
“We shouldn’t always be left out of the cultural loop,” Ladd said. “The movie is opening in Shreveport and Montgomery, for goodness sake. They’re not exactly L.A. and Chicago. Why can’t it be here, too?”
The Jackson Free Press is the first newsweekly from Mississippi ever admitted to the prestigious Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (http://www.aan.org). Since it launched nearly two years ago, the Free Press has encouraged open dialogue and independent thought, and has strived to fill in gaps left by other media in the state. Helping bring this film to Jackson would serve those goals well, the JFP owners believe.
“Mississippians don’t deserve to be just left out,” Ladd said. “Here we go again with outside the world making faulty assumptions about us. That’s maddening. But we Mississippians can do something about it.”
Jackson Free Press Web site: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com
“Fahrenheit 601” Petition is at: http://www.Fahrenheit601.com/
Jackson Free Press Blog re Moore film: http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/comments.php?id=3220_0_27_0_C