Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Red state superstar

Every year around Christmas, it seems, a new comedy with Tim Allen arrives in the nation's multiplexes. And every Christmas, they invariably go unseen by most everyone I know. It's that time of the year, and, sure enough, Allen's got a movie out, Christmas With something or another...I've already forgotten the title. This new Allen movie is making good money ($22 million over the weekend, higher than the much more highly publicized Alexander), just as other Tim Allen movies (the titles of which I can't begin to remember) have made good money. Most have broken $100 million, and Allen, for his part, is paid at a $20 million a picture clip. In terms of box office clout, Allen's star power blows George Clooney and Jude Law's out of the water. But strangely, you never see his mug gracing the cover of GQ.

So who the heck watches these movies? The Left Behind crowd?

Often, when conservatives mock the liberal-urban blue bubble, they'd trot out Pauline Kael, who was said to have remarked (I'm sure jokingly) that "nobody [she] knew voted for Nixon" in expressing (I'm sure mock) shock at the 1972 election results. In a way, Allen's an even weirder cultural phenomenon: a Hollywood profit machine who is almost completely invisible in Hollywood. His movies are almost completely quarantined from my infoworld: Not only do I not know anyone who've seen his pictures, nobody considers seeing his pictures, and weirdest of all, nobody even talks about them. Not in real life, and not on the internet movie sites I peruse. It's as if they don't exist at all. In his own mundane way, Tim Allen turns out to be the perfect cultural signifier of the great divide. David Brooks, are you taking notes?