MONDAY
February 14, 2000
volume 11, no. 31

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MOVIES & MORALS-VIDEOS & VIRTUES-TELEVISION & TEMPERANCE

INTRODUCTION     In order to provide the reader more than just a rehash of what a movie or video is all about which really only serves to promote a film or program despite the rating, we have decided to bring you a more in-depth feature by enlisting Michael Vincent Boyer, editor and publisher of the excellent monthly tabloid magazine "Goodbye Hollywood". Like fellow columnist Pat Ludwa, Michael also hails from northern Ohio but for the past twenty plus years has lived in the deep south. Yet, because of his intrinsic inside work with the Hollywood establishment as Director of the Alabama Film Commission, he is well aware of the state of the industry and most of what he has seen is not compatable with the teachings of the Church. For that reason he began his monthly publication and has begun writing a regular in-depth, thought-provoking, sometimes shocking column for the DailyCATHOLIC. After Lent he will expand even further in providing a brief daily guide of programs that may not be all they're cracked up to be, or a program that might slip through the cracks and be forgotten even though it is excellent. This happens often and Michael will be on top of it to enlighten readers as to what Hollywood is truly up to as he infiltrates the devil's workshop - Hollywood USA!

   Because he will dealing with how all this affects Catholics we continue to call it: "MOVIES & MORALS." Also, because he will be treating videos both in VCR rentals and video games and how we need to be on our guard, we're also calling it: "VIDEOS & VIRTUES;" and finally, he'll also be covering programs and programming decisions for television and how we need to keep in mind the great cardinal virtue of Temperance to guard and guide us in our viewing - thus calling it: "TELEVISION & TEMPERANCE." Therefore, all three titles are appropriate to effectively convey the topics he'll be covering.

   For past columns by Michael Vincent Boyer, see MOVIES & MORALS-VIDEOS & VIRTUES-TELEVISION & TEMPERANCE Archives.    If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at mboyer@goodbye-hollywood.com


    What Hollywood doesn't want you to know

    part two

    Behind the Scenes of the Ratings Debate

        Hollywood's claim to Bill Clinton:
        "He may be a liar and cheat, but he's our liar and cheat."

        Reminiscent of the secret 1966 meeting with Jack Warner and director Mike Nichols over the content of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", Jack Valenti met with sixty members of the Hollywood TV community in the Spring of 1996 to discuss the inevitability of TV ratings - with the stiuplation that no reporters or members of the public attend. According to Steven Bochco, "...there was not a person at that meeting that was in favor of a ratings system." It was an odd statement coming from TV's most vocal proponent of "pushing the envelope". Ratings would actually allow him to push further since he subscribes to the belief that teen viewers are drawn to anything labeled "Forbidden Fruit." The private closed-door meeting was held at the Peninsual Hotel in Beverly Hills.

        One attendee of the meeting, who asked not to be identified, said there was very frank discussions about this time being an election year and Clinton needed to be re-elected. In fact, most of those in attendance were Clinton supporters and contributors such as Clinton golf partner Leslie Moonves of CBS, perpetuator of the "value manipulation" marketing strategy known as "cradle to grave." which I spoke of in my first column this past Friday. There was also discussion by some in attendance of long range plans to change the public attitudes about entertainment; speculating that the increased vulgarity would be something the audience "would have to get used to" and that ratings may actually help producers make shows without much interference from the network's Standards and Practices division and even allow them to compete on the "same level" with the soft-core porn programming of HBO and Showtime.

        Representatives at the meeting also liked the idea that each network or cable channel could set their own standards for self-imposed ratings instead of a broader code of ethics that once guided TV before the National Association of Broadcasters abolished their code in the early 1980's. (The concept of manipulating the audience to suit the industry's tastes was discussed in the last issue of "Goodbye, Hollywood" with coverage of the CBS-Viacom merger.)

        Even if the contrived statements delivered outside the Peninsula Hotel sounded defiant, it was mainly a show for their fellow industry "professionals" in order to maintain a certain acceptable level of political correctness. The meeting was mainly about re-electing Bill Clinton, and as supporters they would have to steal the "right" side of the Culture War to win against Bob Dole, who first brought up the decline of values perpetuated by the entertainment industry. And as we know now, Clinton's support of ratings didn't bring him any enemies in Hollywood since he has made dozens of fundraising trips to Los Angeles hosted by entertainment leaders. As one of the attendees at the meeting said, "He may be a liar and cheat, but he's our liar and cheat."

        Regardless of what was said at Valenti's secret meeting, it is clear that Hollywood is at war with America. During the House Telecommunications Sub-Committee hearings in May of 1997, members traveled to Peoria, Illinois and asked 300 randomly selected families to watch a wide variety of TV programming. According to Broadcast & Cable Magazine, one mother was roundly applauded when she said "I am horrified at what I watched last week on television…I could not believe some of the things I saw." Valenti responded to many parent's complaints by saying, "We're trying only to rate what's on the screen so you have advance information. " That's like saying, "Look lady, it's gonna be bad, take it or leave it." Instead of telling the industry to clean up its act, Valenti tells Americans that all they can hope for is "advance information."

        Some leading congressional critics of television still find themselves less than satisfied with the ratings. As Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut said, "If you put a rating on garbage, it doesn't make it quality television. It's still garbage."

        In 1998, just one year after TV ratings implementation, the Parents Television Council (PTC) released a study titled "TV More Offensive Than Ever." Just one year after the ratings began, the evidence concluded a harsh reality reflecting a sharp rise in the per-hour combined average of sexual content, foul language, and violent content. Sexual content, profanity, and violence increased by almost 42%. According to Media Research Center Chairman Brent Bozell, "Plainly put, television is the raunchiest it has ever been in spite of, or perhaps because of, the rating system."

Michael Vincent Boyer

Tommorow: A brief history of the TV Ratings disaster

          

February 14, 2000
volume 11, no. 31
MOVIES & MORALS-VIDEOS & VIRTUES-TELEVISION & TEMPERANCE

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