Mr. Ibbetson begs to differ

Paul A. Ibbetson, a radio show host from Manhattan, Kansas, has done the extraordinary:  he’s published a lengthy review of a movie he has not seen – ours:

Now, Frank’s book creation has been made into a documentary in which filmmakers Joe Winston and Laura Cohen will attempt to take his negative propaganda message about conservatives to the next level. The usual Hollywood embrace was given to the film by movie critics, such as Roger Ebert (who defended the movie as having no axe to grind), with a glowing review that starts with the obvious words of detached professionalism in Ebert saying, “As a liberal, I…” For most thinking people, it’s time to scrape your boots again.

He continues in this vain, getting angrier with each passing sentence.  But wait!  Maybe our movie does have some merit after all:

I believe that the extension of Frank’s attack on Kansas in the new documentary film offer additional fruitful grounds for analysis. Historical precedence of the value of such work is abundant. Through historical study and observation, we can now see the interesting relationship between Joseph Goebbels and documentary film director

Leni Riefenstahl in the Nazi propaganda film, “Triumph of the Will.” The Frank-Winston/Cohen combination may very well offer more historical observations of the usage of indirect and direct propaganda applications and their overlap from book to movie form.

This morning, we wrote to Mr. Ibbetson, offering him a chance to see the movie for himself, since he’s so clearly interested.  Will he still feel that Producer Laura Cohen is just like Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl?  Stay tuned.

paulpic bw 251x300 Mr. Ibbetson begs to differ

Paul A. Ibbetson, not a big fan


  1. Wendy A
    September 25, 2009

    Wow, Ibbetson is a good writer! I hope he will see the movie soon because I’d like to hear his review!

  2. Alex F
    September 25, 2009

    I listen to Ibbetson’s radio show every week. It’s the best in Kansas. If he gives the movie a good review, I’ll buy it. If not, forget it.

  3. Rand Lamberth
    September 25, 2009

    You obviously didn’t read Mr. Ibbetson’s review in its entirety. If you had, you would realize that it was a critique not of your movie, but of the work of fiction your movie is based on. (Don’t flatter yourselves.)

    And if said movie follows the “script” of Frank’s book, he doesn’t need to see it to know it’s a pile of garbage masquerading as cinema.

  4. Dan G
    September 25, 2009

    I am a fan of Mr. Ibbetson’s radio show and writings, including his new book “Feeding Lions”, and he is usually spot on with his analysis. If he does see your movie and recommends it, I will see it. If what he says about the source material is true, and I have no reason to doubt him, then I doubt I will be watching your film. After all, I am from Kansas, so it pro’ly has too many big words for me anyways.

  5. What's the Matter with Kansas?
    September 25, 2009

    Readers of this blog should know that every single one of the Kansas conservatives who we filmed has seen the movie and likes it a lot. Most of them saw it twice – once on DVD, and again in front of a big crowd at the 2008 Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita.

    They praised us, in front of an auditorium of hundreds of Kansans at last year’s Tallgrass Film Festival, for our fair treatment of Kansans, allowing them to tell their own stories.

    We await with interest Mr. Ibbetson’s review of the film, as opposed to Mr. Frank’s book, once he has seen it.

  6. MrL
    September 25, 2009

    Paul Ibbetson is a dedicated law enforcement professional as well as a prolific writer. he’s also a fair talk show host. i would not be surprised, with Paul’s fair minded attitude, will take you up on your offer to view your leftist piece of trash that attacks every fiber of real america and not the america that only makes up 23% of the national population.
    America is still a conservative middle nation.
    Don’t ya get it?

    • What's the Matter with Kansas?
      September 25, 2009

      All the more reason we’re eager to hear from Mr. Ibbetson about what the movie is, not what he supposes it might be, without having seen it.

  7. Bradley L.
    September 25, 2009

    Greetings… I’m a Kansan born & raised. Still here too! And I wouldn’t move any where else, because there’s really nothing wrong with Kansas!
    We have the best of the Four Seasons.
    We have good clean air, (you can actually breath)
    We have the cleanest lakes, great fishing, and water resources are abundant. ( we have a vast aquafur)
    We have hot & cold running water, (even indoor toilets)!
    We have the best highways, and by-ways. (come drive on them)
    We have TOP NOTCH LEO’s, (try & resist one) JUST TRY!
    We have a strong economy, (despite the aircraft ind. woes).
    We have Jobs if you want, or need to work. (just look)
    We have reasonable taxes…lol,
    We have the greatest show on Earth, (The Kansas State Fair)
    And Best of All…
    We have Christian Churches in virtually every incorporated, and un-incorporated town. Amen?

    We have the best The United States of Ameria has to offer!

    So – Untill, you have personally lived in Kansas, embracing it’s rich, cultural, and lengthly heritage.

    You need to SHUT UP!. AND KEEP OUT OF MY STATE! cuz we canzunz dunt tak 2 kynly 2 yuns makn funny at US, or da USA!

    God Bless

  8. What's the Matter with Kansas?
    September 25, 2009

    Gotta agree with you there – the Kansas State Fair is wonderful, we had a great time there.

  9. jontv
    September 25, 2009

    @Bradley L.
    I really hope this post is satirical. It’s hard to tell.

    I haven’t seen the film in question, but I’ve read about it, I’ve heard an interview with the filmmakers, and I will see it next week. I think what the filmmakers are trying to do is exactly what we need more of: trying to get Americans with differing political opinions to listen to each other.

    I have been so discouraged at all the mindless sloganeering and hate-mongering we’ve seen lately. It’s like we’ve forgotten how to disagree about issues. People we disagree with are not just wrong: they are routinely, even casually portrayed as threats to the very existence of our nation. If America is so fragile it can’t take a little disagreement, how are we going to work together to solve the problems that face us, as a nation?

    I am familiar with the work of Paul Ibbetson, and his rhetoric is consistently divisive. He can’t seem to see anything at all, except through the lens of “liberal” v. “conservative”. These labels are clumsy and of questionable use in general, but in the hands of reductive thinkers like Ibbetson, they always do more harm than good.

    I look forward to seeing the film precisely because I would like to hear from and better understand genuine people with conservative beliefs — as opposed to the would-be professional conservatives, like Ibbetson, who elect themselves the sole representatives of all that is good and true and then seek to demonize all who disagree, making real political dialogue virtually impossible.

  10. BradleyL.
    September 25, 2009

    @jontv – Greetings… actually my post was direct, and to my point of view. But I have to admit I did get a little carried away with my last (2) sentences. “You need to SHUT UP!. AND KEEP OUT OF MY STATE! cuz we canzunz dunt tak 2 kynly 2 yuns makn funny at US, or da USA!”.. that was satirical! I wish to extend an invitation to all Americans, and Foreigners, to come visit “The Great State of Kansas”… I know you’ll have a great time. Admittingly, I have not seen the movie as yet, or read Pauls book either! (sorry Paul). I will though! There is so much politics involved in a farmers lively hood that differs emmensly from one farm to another! Different subsidies are payed to different family farmers to grow, or not to grow, and what to grow too! So – the differences of opinion one might notice, and gather from a film or a book can actually be attributed to Federal, State, & local Farm consevation, and Land Policy’s.
    Now, I don’t want to hinge all the blame on Government. We have to take into consideration family background, history, business decisions an individual makes, education, training, the whole freeking package man.
    I just want to remind every one, We’re ALL Americans! and we must remember to….”AGREE TO DISAGREE”…!

  11. Shawn
    September 25, 2009

    As a lifelong Kansan myself, I can fully relate to defending my home state to outsiders and ignorant coasters who are quick to point out our problems while looking right past their own. But to my fellow Kansans that think all is well in the Heartland, all I can say is you are blind, or in complete denial. While there are many, many great things about Kansas (and small town/rural living in general), there is a giant elephant in the room that few seem able to see. I grew up in a small Kansas town with no one of non-caucasian persuasion (except for the town’s Filipino doctor), yet judging from my fellow townsfolks’ expert knowledge of what blacks, mexicans, jews, etc. were like, you’d think they’d all grown up in Los Angeles or New York surrounded by the n–, wet—, and k—. Oh, and let’s not even start about homosexuals, or worse, anyone even suspected of being anything less than a red-blooded hetero. These people weren’t just racist; they were viciously stupid, and it wasn’t just people in that town, but every town in the area. Was it everyone? No, but did I ever see anyone stand up to a racist joke or comment? Say, “hey, that’s not right.” No, and if I or my friends showed our disapproval, we often ended up in a fight. For people who proclaimed their direct connection to God on a daily basis, the hypocrisy was too thick to stomach.

    Now I understand that not everyone from my home state is like this. I wasn’t; my family wasn’t; and my good friends weren’t, and over the years I met many many people that felt like we did, but we all had the same stories to tell of small town small-mindedness (we literally battled the Nazi skinheads that would come up north from Wichita).

    After living out of state for several years, I had forgotten how prevalent these attitudes were here. Maybe I had even thought that viewpoints had widened a little in my absence. But after three and half years back (and living in a large city no less), I’ve been reminded far too many times of the racism and bigotry that still permeates this part of the country. Though it doesn’t often manifest itself publicly, it still rears its head in hushed asides, “well, I’m not racist, but you know what the real problem is…?” These encounters have all been with random strangers at a party, a concert, wherever. They are usually male, and apparently presume that because I, too, am a white male, I will, you know, “understand”. Of course, racism exists everywhere, but no stranger ever made racist comments to me in 11 years of living on the west coast. If people harbored such sentiments, they were at least smart and cautious enough to keep it to themselves.

    So, yes, there is something very the matter with Kansas. And no, it’s not just Kansas, either, but the title of the movie (and the book) are what’s called a metaphor. Don’t take it so personally.

  12. Shawn
    September 25, 2009

    I realize I didn’t quite close the loop on my previous post. My point is, racism is about the irrational fear of “others” and it shares a lot of characteristics with the fears that so many Kansans have of the “liberal, godless elite” that they think are trying to destroy their simple, perfect way of life. The failed logic of the arguments are eerily similar. The “others” that are not like you and me, are going to brainwash our kids with crazy talk of evolution, scary gay agendas, and dangerous “rap” music. It’s provincialism and xenophobia, and in its most extreme manifestations, racism. And when you can’t recognize how corporations and their lackeys (nearly all of the republican party and probably half of the democratic party) use these fears to turn you against people that you have more in common with than you do with multi-millionaires, you can’t begin to understand that a book (or movie) like What’s the Matter with Kansas? is actually the best book you could ever read.


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