- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 14, 2000

The bottom line of a federal report on violence in Hollywood is that the entertainment industries movies, music and video games aggressively market their most explicitly violent wares to children who are supposed to be too young to partake of them. While the Senate Commerce Committee gave these findings its full attention at a hearing yesterday, most Americans with eyes and ears (and a nose) have long known about them. The new documentation gathered by the Federal Trade Commission, however, offers fresh evidence of the calculated strategies entertainment outfits follow to corrupt the young for profit with depictions of titillating violence.

This is the way it works. A movie studio produces a movie rated R for bullet-riddled bodies, fountains of blood, and maybe a few severed limbs. The industry-imposed rating is supposed to bar children under the age of 18 from viewing such stuff unless accompanied by an adult. It is also supposed to demonstrate the sterling citizenship of a "self-regulating" industry.

But then what happens? One studio marketing memorandum studied by the FTC described a studio attempt to circumvent the audience restrictions of an R-rating by blanketing Campfire Boys and Girls clubs with promotional posters and leaflets for one such "adult" release. And that's nothing. Using every kiddie outlet from comic books to television cartoons, entertainment moguls tried to foist on children under the age of 18 the vast majority of the R-rated movies, songs labeled to indicate "explicit content," and "Mature-rated" video games studied by the FTC. The report noted, almost as an aside, that "a few [marketing] plans for violent Mature-rated games targeted children as young as 6." No wonder that not a single Hollywood executive had the nerve to show up and explain himself to the Senate yesterday.

What happened to sex in the movies one wonders? Democrats are sticking with the Clinton script. As Al Gore and Joe Lieberman tell it, while seizing upon the FTC report, explicit violence is the sole degrading influence in the popular culture. The role Hollywood plays in the sexualizing of children, apparently, is suddenly above censure, reproach, or even mention. Such striking selectivity on this all-important cultural question reveals an overriding political consciousness at work. Could this be say it ain't so an act of Democratic political grandstanding?

Let's just say it wouldn't be the first time. After Mr. Clinton ordered the FTC inquiry last year, following the Columbine High School shooting, Mr. Gore made a fund-raising trip to Hollywood where he met privately with skittish industry executives. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Gore made it clear at those private meetings that he, personally, had had nothing to do with the government study, that it was all Mr. Clinton's idea. Funny, but that sounds very much like what he said once upon a time to music industry executives exercised about wife Tipper's erstwhile campaign against nasty music lyrics. The degrading impact of explicit sex and gratuitous violence on the imaginations and sensibility of young and old alike is certainly a serious problem, but it is one that Mr. Gore has proven he is not serious about.

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