HOLLYWOOD AND COMMON SENSE
I’m always amazed that the media claims their right to freedom of speech overshadows any need to strive for decency or accountability and that the things they present visually and audibly have no influence on society and values. I’m talking about TV, radio, and the silver screen.
When we allow these people to graphically portray violence, sex, and foul language, as being funny, common place, socially acceptable and without consequence, it is not only incorrect, but grossly irresponsible. Many of us parents are also to blame for passively allowing the minds of our children to be constantly exposed to this garbage.
Hollywood loves guns and violence. The more graphic, bloody, and horror invoking, the more they like to do it! So far, the only place where I have seen such graphic violence portrayed in a manner that might be justified, was in the opening minutes of “Saving Private Ryan” and throughout “Blackhawk Down” and “We Were Soldiers”. One truly feels the horror and waste incurred in war as American soldiers are shown being killed in combat. It is a profound portrayal of the blind sacrifices made by so many young men to preserve democracy and freedom in the world. The other side of the coin came to me when even I recently found myself unable to continue watching a movie where the Asian hero hacked and shot at least fifty bad guys in the first fifteen minutes! As rare as they are among gun owners, everyone in this film, set in the U.S., seemed to have some sort of fully automatic machine gun that blastfully destroyed everything shot at but our hero! Was there any message of value in all this? Although they were striving for “reality”, when was the last time you heard of a shoot-out in public mall where there were 10-15 people with machine guns chasing and shooting a single Asian karate expert, where there was massive destruction of property, many bad guys “taken out” and the hero gets home for dinner that night? No wonder young people have some unrealistic concept about firearms and violence. Normandy, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Afghanistan and countless other places where Americans have given their lives for freedom were REAL!
A very funny sitcom on NBC, and winner of several awards, often portrays sex outside of marriage as just being a normal every day part of serious dating. I will not dispute the unfortunate fact that there is a lot of truth in that fact among today’s adults, but it still does not negate the fact that trying to convince teenagers on the sanctity of marriage, the importance of that institution, and its contribution to family, society, and morality is seriously compromised by such programming. The media rarely shows with equal impact the pain and potential devastation often brought to many teenagers by all this “free love”. When was the last time one of these entertainment programs show you things like the danger of having VD for life, the inability to ever have children as a result, a need to address the abortion issue, or the broken hearts and destroyed lives that may lead to drug abuse or even suicide. We are showing all this free sex as being great fun without risk or consequence. It is a totally irresponsible presentation and representation of the true pitfalls faced in life.
Hollywood also seems to be in love with the “F word” and a few other related versions and expressions. The screen writers spit these words out as if the entire world could not communicate without their use. It very rarely adds ANYTHING to the plot, suspense, or enjoyment of the film. When it comes to sex they feel they have some need to always show the audience as much as possible, as if none of us knew anything about it. Again, it usually has nothing to do with the overall picture and a simple fade to black at the onset would allow adults to visualize all they needed and leave young people still to discover the joys of true love. (Besides, this is NOT the kind of thing teenage boys dealing with the “curse” need to have presented to them. They’re having enough trouble controlling themselves without throwing gasoline into the furnace.)
Has anyone noticed that the “soaps” are now full of sex, violence, infidelity, lust, and a full range of other immoralities? It also seems that there are no “common” folks in these daily supposed presentations of “life”. Ever notice that everyone is a Doctor, Lawyer, Corporate Executive, Detective, or some other economic giant. Do any of these TV families have any relatives or friends that own and run a service station, drive a truck, work at the court house, are a sales clerk in a store (they don’t own), sell vacuum cleaners, or have common jobs like the rest of us? I realize that most of our lives are not exciting enough to be attractive to the TV people, but couldn’t we have just a few real people in these presentations?
I watched a very funny “police and bad guys” film a few years back that had they left out the F word, could almost have been a G, and it would still have been VERY funny! A few people got shot, but none graphically “BLOWN AWAY” with a splattering of blood and guts. It was a really good cops-and-robbers comedy that was totally ruined by the fact that the hero cop could not speak in anything but gutter talk. It was so sad, because it added NOTHING to the film. I’m not saying such language does not exist, but only in the gutter and trashy bowels of low-life haunts is it common. A good example of such language being appropriate and more realistic to life might be the movie “Bullet” with Steve McQueen. It was a truly good movie, unfortunately with a few graphically violent scenes, but containing only one point of strong language, “bull shit”. It was at the very end, certainly fit the scene, and because it came as a shock, really carried the IMPACT desired by the director and screen writer.
Trashy language is not necessary for movies or television to be good. It was not necessary in Alfred Hitchcock films, James Bond didn’t need it to communicate, and if you want to see what kind of impact being sparing and timely can have, the word “damn” never had any more powerful an impact than in the closing scene of “Gone With The Wind”.
The media used to assume some responsibility for the things they portrayed and its impact on society. Love scenes faded into tomorrow, people who were shot fell down without splattering on the wall, and gutter talk stayed in the gutter and off the screen. Now their excuse is they are striving for reality. Spelled: “r-a-t-i-n-g-s”. They say they need all that reality or people won’t watch. It is very unfortunate, but people are such that if a television network announced that they were going kidnap a 16-year old girl, sexually assault her, torture her, eventually kill her and film the entire thing in graphic detail for presentation, there would be VERY large numbers that would actually watch such a horrific presentation. Some for curiosity, many because they are sick, and many for who knows what reason, but I can assure you the audience would be large. Please don’t tell me that I have to explain to anyone the travesty in such a plot. I just say it to point out that if this is so wrong, then why is it right to simulate the same thing is such graphic detail in a movie, and present it as being entertainment? Just because people will “watch” does not make it “right”.
A recent entry into the silver screen hype arena was a movie advertised as a spoof of previous “scary” movies. It was a sequel to one released earlier, so this one was creatively titled “Scary Movie 2”. On several morning network talk shows, the hosts chatted gleefully with a visiting cast member, showed a clip, and confirmed how funny the movie. As much as I hate to admit it, I saw the movie. I was not only embarrassed to be seen coming out of the theater, I was shocked at the foul language and sexual presentations made in this film under the guise of “being funny”. I doubt very seriously if any of the talk show hosts would have promoted this film had they seen it first. It was nothing but TRASH! Even worse, there were several children in the showing that I attended that were under the age of 17, even though the film was rated R. Apparently the theater had no control because these kids were accompanied by an adult or person who was 17? It was really sad to hear children laughing at the talking parrot’s on-going dialog of “F” words. There were portrayals of sex, masturbation, oral sex, and demonic activities that basically were out of place in their efforts to be “funny”. This picture was far more SICK than funny!
How about those talk shows? Some good, some bad, right? I’m ashamed of an industry that has put ratings above truth and good taste. As I said, just because people will watch something disgusting and vile, if presented, does not make it right. We draw the line at the presentation of pornography without controls, yet we have allowed some talk shows to hire actors to portray themselves and the situation as being truth, when nothing could have been further from the truth. Because there are always people who will watch “trash”, we now have TV talk shows and talk radio programs that deal totally with the most shocking and disgusting facets of some people’s lives. These trash mongers are always looking for the next “shocker” guest or situation, all in the name of ratings with never a thought as to how the constant presentation of this kind of garbage takes a toll in a civilized society by breading a certain level of eventual acceptability. If the media chose to constantly run TV programming over a few years in which they portrayed social drug use was without harm or consequence, it would not be long before we would find more and more of the general public accepting and sharing that view and eventually lobbying for the loosening laws to allow for more of it.
Oprah Winfrey and her TV program easily contradicts the media “trash mongers” position that people won’t watch programs about success, good behavior, doing the right thing, etc. When she made the decision to go after the positive things in life and expose and praise the successes of people instead of our darker side, her shows ratings soared and have maintained ever since. A true hero of today and all that is decent. We need more Oprah’s in the TV industry. If we could only teach her that gun ownership and gun owners are neither evil or the problem, she be the perfect woman.
There’s a faction of the media we call “the news media”. Since Huntley, Brinkley and Cronkite, left the TV world, that form of the news media has been ever sinking into the world of sensationalism and bias. These so-called “professionals” pick and exploit stories that will raise your dander, while ignoring other important NEWS events and items because they simply lack punch or viewer interest. They’ll defend that accusation in part by saying that if viewers are not interested, why report it? I answer, “because it IS NEWS!” All the while, these present reporters, both print and broadcast, are picking and writing their stories, and often using their own descriptive and interpretive phrases to describe events or actions. “The President gave in to pressure from the Fanny Scratcher’s Society today when he…..” I’m sorry, but is that a fact that was established by the President because he actually said “I’m doing this under pressure from….”, or was that speculation on the part of the writer? Why not simply say: “The president did such and such and such today” and let us draw our own conclusions? I especially hate it when following a Presidential announcement or address, the news media will spend another fifteen minutes giving their spin on what the president “meant” when he said, “whatever”. I heard what he said and I’d prefer to make my own decisions without prompting and speculation from someone else who also heard what he said. If all this is not confusing enough already, I then have to listen to the opposite party’s interpretation and presentation on the same subject! Keep in mind that there are people out in this world that will hear the news commentators spin and actually think that WAS what the President meant, when that news “slant” may be totally wrong.
Will Jack Webb please come back and remind the news media “Just the fact’s”.