I heard this morning from Erica no-last-name, a 21 year-old student from Charlotte, North Carolina. Being an intelligent and committed Avatard, she took issue with my 8.17 report (“Room at the Inn”) about how the Avatar tickets were snapped up faster in big cities than in outlying areas, and especially what that implied about awareness levels.

“Don’t assume everyone outside of NY and LA is oblivious to Hollywood doings,” she wrote. “I know how these places look from the outside (middle-class, popcorn-eating audiences flocking to stupid blockbusters) but Charlotte does have a little art society inside it, even though we might be in the minority. I have two reserved tickets to an Avatar screening here in Charlotte, and I know more people who are going also. Not only that, but I’m trying to sell the shit out of this thing because I truly believe in the epic-ness of it.”

To which I replied: “Yeah, you’re from an upscale-urban small-college town…naturally! Any semi-educated, reasonably well-travelled American realizes, of course, that the American hinterland is sprinkled with small and mid-sized towns and college communities of a blue-green liberal bent. Oasis-like havens with nice people, cool cafes, bookstores, nice walking-around areas, non-Blockbuster DVD stores, second-hand clothing stores and pretty women with nice pedicures.

“Tupelo, Mississippi, to name one example, is generally regarded as a rural Southern city with all the attendant shortcomings, but it’s got a nice, old-town vibe here and there, and everyone you meet is polite and kindly. Not my kind of town architecturally but a decent place to hang for a day or two. So yeah, I know the score and thank God that the spirit of rural America isn’t entirely ruled by Walmarts and junk-food outlets and red-state Glenn Beck attitudes.

“What I was saying in the piece — or asking, really — is whether outlying areas are as attuned as big cities to ‘viral happenings’ like the Avatar free-seat giveaway.

“As I looked over the Avatar site at the end of the first day (i.e., two days ago) that had reports about which theatres in which cities were sold out (or more precisely requested-out), the general pattern was that the big-city IMAX theatres filled up right away but that scores of theatres in the rural and suburban areas still had seats open.

“The obvious conclusion is that rural/suburbans (a) have fewer hardcore fans of CG scifi/alternate-reality event movies and (b) aren’t as wired into what’s happening as big-city types. That’s all I was really saying.”