General News

Burn, Hollywood, Burn

Aug 15, 2001 | 11:35am EDT

If Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush had their druthers, then Hollywood would transform from tawdry to tame and maybe go from lascivious to lame. Both presidential candidates say that Hollywood's morality, or lack thereof, needs a big-time change.

But what's odd in this presidential election is that "cleaning up Hollywood" is a moral, family values-type issue in which you'd expect the GOP to focus. However, the Democrats have been much louder than their Republican counterparts on this one.

What's even odder is that while Democrats -- in particular Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. -- have been loud on the Hollywood issue, they've reportedly received $14.7 million in campaign contributions from the television, music and movie industries while Republicans have raised just $9.1 million from those industries for the November election.

So how Gore and Lieberman remain outspoken about Hollywood and its morality while Bush and Dick Cheney lay low on Hollywood is an interesting quirk in what some consider an uninteresting election.

Here's a quick look at the candidates' positions on Hollywood and some recent statements about the entertainment industry by the major candidates.


Gore recently said that he would give the entertainment industry six months to "clean up its act." What he meant was that it's acceptable for Hollywood to set its own moral guidelines, as long as the guidelines are morally reasonable and Hollywood abides by those rules.

"If the industry violates its own rules and actively misleads parents with advertising, then the industry should be held accountable,'' Gore said. "If the industry promises parents that it will not market violent material to children and then proceeds to do so, then the industry's practices could constitute false and deceptive advertising."


Some call Lieberman the "conscience of the Senate,'' while others call him a moralizer. In 1998, he and former Secretary of Education William Bennett handed out "Silver Sewer Awards'' to draw attention to the producers of sexually explicit and violent films, music, television programs and video games. Perhaps hypocritically, Lieberman had stock in a few of the organizations that he criticized with these awards.

Lieberman is by far the most outspoken of the four major candidates on Hollywood. On this issue, though, he often speaks in generalizations. But his message remains that Hollywood needs a major change. Lieberman has said that the entertainment industry fosters "a culture of carnage." He said that parents are "locked in a losing competition with the culture to raise our children."


Bush is not particularly vocal on Hollywood. In fact, his campaign has issued just three press releases regarding Hollywood, and all have been attacks on Gore. For example, one press release pointed out that the album "Daises of the Galaxy'' by the Eels was passed out at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. And, gasp, this album had a morally corrupt song called "It's a Motherf*****.''

Bush's sentiment toward Hollywood is similar to Lieberman's. The difference with Bush is that he normally stays clear of offering regulations for the entertainment industry. Instead, he pushes for cultural changes and parental guidance as the best ways to regulate Hollywood.

When asked about the entertainment industry, Bush maneuvered the question back to the home and said, "The fundamental question is going to be: 'Can America rededicate itself to parenting as the No. 1 priority for all of us?'"


Tackling Hollywood hasn't been part of Cheney's modus operandi -- so far. As a former secretary of defense, Cheney usually focuses on other issues, especially foreign policy. He leaves the Hollywood critiques to his wife, Lynne Cheney, who is a former chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and his beliefs are in line with hers even though he doesn't often talk about them. Lynn Cheney recently testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about marketing violence to children.

"The time has long passed when we can shrug off violence in the entertainment industry by saying it has no effect. It debases and denigrates the culture our children are growing up in, and the leaders of the entertainment industry have to face up to that and understand their responsibilities,'' she said.

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