In a 5.21 Cannes Journal entry, New York Times critic A.O. Scott wrote that he was “disheartened” by Anne Thompson’s also-recent Hollywood Reporter column which reported/asserted that U.S. moviegoers don’t know and almost certainly won’t care about this year’s big Cannes attractions, much less who their creators are. Her column quoted indie distributors like Warner Independent’s Mark Gill and ThinkFilm’s Mark Urman expressing this realistic (although certainly pessimistic-sounding) view. Scott complained that Thompson’s piece “seemed almost intended to perpetuate the situation it pretends to describe. If you assume that American audiences aren’t interested in certain kinds of movies, and therefore don’t release or write about those kinds of movies, then your assumption will of course appear to be proven right.” The same principle applies to all the whoopin’ and yellin’ over the $300 million-plus earned worldwide thus far by Star Wars: Episode 3 — Revenge of the Sith. If Hollywood-covering editors and journalists were to openly practice advocacy journalism (which of course they don’t — they practice it covertly), they would refuse to report any and all box-office figures for those especially pernicious, grossly disappointing, spiritually polluting movies that come along every so often, like Sith. This is fantasy, of course — you can’t not report about massive box-office earnings anymore than you can omit reporting on huge Asian tsunamis. But one or two local news channels in Los Angeles have talked about refusing to run video coverage of freeway chases and New York Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove has refused to run any more items about Paris Hilton, so there’s some precedent. As God is my witness, showbiz salutations about how the Sith grosses are good and healthy things and that the public has finally and wondrously awakened from its months-long slumber with the release of Sith, blah, blah…these exclamations are feeding the underlying malignancy. To me, these box-office reports seem to almost perpetuate the situation they’re pretending to dispassionately describe. If you assume that American audiences are hugely delighted and/or feel profoundly fulfilled about having seen Revenge of the Sith, and therefore you write about the statistical box-office figures that confirm this assumption, then your assumption will of course appear to be proven right. I have said this over and over in years past, but millions upon millions of easily seducable slackers lining up to see a blockbuster can, depending on the dynamic, mean (and should mean) absolutely nothing in the greater scheme of things. (Which of course if where we should all be living in our heads…in Greater Scheme Land.) What does it mean when a dust storm blows across Kansas and everyone covers their faces and stays inside their home(s)? Is this something to jump up and down about, examine from this and that angle, compare statistically to previous dust storms, and talk about the various ramifications with dust-storm experts like Paul Dergarabedian? People can go to see Sith by the mega-millions and a tip of the hat to those who have shrewdly profited from this, but in a better, smarter and more spiritually focused world, editors and journalists would try to report this dispiriting phenomenon with a bit more perspective…and without quite so much of a “yea, team!” cheerleader tone.