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Doug Gamble- Contributor

Doug Gamble is a former writer for President Ronald Reagan and resides in Carmel. [go to Gamble index]

New Lows In The Culture War
Hollywood's assault on conventional values keeps getting more outrageous

[Doug Gamble] 2/17/04


February is proving a red-letter month in the culture war pitting Hollywood against mainstream America. It began Sunday, Feb. 1, when Janet Jackson assaulted the sensibilities of Super Bowl TV viewers with her breast, and will end Sunday, Feb. 29, when Hollywood liberals at the Academy Awards assault President George W. Bush with their mouths.

In between, Hollywood continues to bombard society with its weapons of mass corruption, including music and reality TV shows, as Washington lawmakers attempt to fight back by giving the Federal Communications Commission more power to punish transgressors when indecent material is broadcast on the public airwaves.

But this is the same FCC that recently ruled it's fine for the "f" word to be spoken on TV, as long as it's used as an adjective and not to describe a sex act. When Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., said at congressional hearings last week, "The FCC has failed to enforce the rules," he identified one of the reasons Hollywood is emboldened to inflict so much garbage on Americans, such as the Super Bowl outrage. And he also proved a master of understatement in saying, "We appear to be in an unfortunate race to the bottom with an emphasis on more profit and less dignified content."

If there's any doubt the race to the bottom is proceeding apace, consider this example: It was seven years ago when sportscaster Marv Albert was fired by NBC when it was revealed he had bitten an ex-girlfriend in a Virginia hotel room. Presumably the network determined it did not want to be associated with someone guilty of such behavior. Yet Fox Television had no problem the last few months broadcasting a reality show called "The Simple Life," starring famous-for- being famous Paris Hilton and Lionel Richie's daughter Nicole, even after a widely circulated video showed Hilton in a naked sex romp with her boyfriend and Richie pleaded guilty to felony heroin possession. These two make Albert look like Pat Robertson by comparison, yet Fox sees their behavior not as an embarrassment but a ratings booster.

There was a time when Ms. Jackson would have sabotaged her career by performing a strip show before a TV audience with 20 percent of its viewers age 11 or under. But not in 2004 America. On Feb. 2, the day after the Super Bowl, her new single, "Just a Little While," was released. According to Rolling Stone magazine, more than 120 radio stations immediately picked it up, and the same day there were more Web searches for "Janet Jackson" than anything else on a single day in Internet history.

Think she appeared chastened during her public "apology" for the Super Bowl incident? Her new CD, "Damita Jo," hitting music stores March 30, features her naked from the waist up on the cover.

From the corrupting influence of MTV to hip-hop music that glorifies crime and denigrates women to TV reality shows that demean and humiliate - Fox's latest is dwarf women competing with averaged-sized females for the affections of a dwarf bachelor - mainstreamers are in retreat. Hollywood has contributed to the creation of a culture where the cream rising to the top is overshadowed by the scum sinking to the bottom, because cream doesn't get ratings. And temporary congressional bluster will do nothing to change this.

Hollywood's Super Bowl is this month's Academy Awards show, and it promises to be a perfect storm aimed at President Bush.

Last year, filmmaker Michael Moore ripped Bush while accepting his award for best documentary, the disingenuous "Bowling for Columbine." This year, Bush will be triple-teamed with leftists Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin and Tim Robbins all nominated, the first for best actor and the latter two for best supporting actor. The show's five-second tape delay might keep vulgarity from viewers, but it won't keep Penn, Baldwin, Robbins and other Bush haters, either as presenters or winners, from any political tirade they choose to unleash.

They're entitled to their opinions. Too bad we're not entitled to a society free of the Roman circuses their Hollywood represents.

Copyright 2004 Doug Gamble

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