March 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 45

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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 are calling the column: "HOLY WOULD HELP HOLLYWOOD" with the subtitles: "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 subtitling 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 subtitling it: "TELEVISION & TEMPERANCE." Therefore, all three subtitles are appropriate to effectively convey the topics he'll be covering.

   For past columns by Michael Vincent Boyer, see HOW HOLY WOULD HELP HOLLYWOOD 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

    Spielberg's List is a far cry from "Schindler's List"

        "...with the now widely publicized friendship between Spielberg and President Clinton, there's obviously no argument coming from the White House, especially with Clinton's past history of drug abuse and adultery. This silence may be due to Clinton's seduction by the film business and perhaps the chance to work for DreamWorks or even replace Jack Valenti as President of the Motion Picture Association of America..."

          Spoken words have meaning. Written words have meaning. When words and stories are printed as a film script that finds its way as a finished movie playing at your local theater, those "meanings" have an immediate effect and influence unlike any other form of popular art.

          Such is the case with Steven Spielberg's dark and forbidding "comedy" "American Beauty". The story revolves around the sexual fantasies of the central character Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey, a married father in his early forties who is having a mid-life crisis and "riding out" a troubled marriage with his wife. He begins to fantasize about his daughter's cheerleader friend, Angela, who sparks a renewal in Lester's life.

          But, the most damaging message from the film involves Lester's neighbor, Ricky, the handsome high school drug dealer who begins selling drugs to Lester so that he can "expand" his "spiritual side." The constant dope-smoking has him falling deeper into his fantasies as his wife's screaming intensifies. The whole family is dysfunctional in the midst of tranquil suburbia. Bashing suburban peace is a favorite theme of Hollywood filmmakers who disdain the life of tidy houses and manicured lawns. Other recent examples of "suburban bashing" was evidenced in "Happiness," "Pleasantville," and "The Ice Storm."

          However, the disturbing portrait of the drug dealer neighbor in "American Beauty" as a "sensitive and caring" individual attempts to elevate him to the movie's only "sympathetic" character. Ricky is constantly video-taping everything around him for the "hidden beauty" life beholds, such as taping a plastic bag blowing in the wind. Now, that's beauty, isn't it?

          But, in the end, Ricky corrupts Lester's daughter into his hazy lifestyle as they develop their own "sensitive" relationship. The message of the film is that drug use is just fine, since Lester undergoes a change for the "better" as he acquires "peace, wisdom, and serenity." How about poor judgment, lack of father figure, and even greater dysfunction?

          Critics are quick to point out that it's not fair to say this is a Spielberg film, per say, because it is actually produced by Don Jinks and Bruce Cohen, written by Alan Ball, and directed by Sam Mendes. SKG Dream Works just "happens" to be the film's distributor. But, without a distribution agreement by Spielberg's company, the film would have never been made, since all the other studios in Hollywood had the good sense to turn the project down. Spielberg's involvement was more than passive according to director Mendes. The October 4, 1999 issue of USA Today says, "a script was handed to [Mendes] by DreamWorks honcho Steven Spielberg over lunch." That's not "passive" - that's about as actively direct as it gets. The article continues, "Mendes was blown away by sitcom writer Alan Ball's story, with its horrific and dysfunctional family, the spooky boy next door who sells dope and constantly follows Lester's daughter with his camcorder." That's entertainment?!

          Writer Alan Ball's own words show how personal agendas and value manipulation are often a reflection of their own "dysfunctional" past, which they are eager to foist on the public. In a screenwriter's magazine, Ball says a lot of the story comes from personal experience, "I grew up in a household with a somewhat troubled father figure and a somewhat shut-down mother figure, so Ricky's household certainly resembles mine in ways." Does that mean Alan Ball used to sell drugs from his house? Does Steven Spielberg find that good movie material for a bleak comedy? Ball is also producer of the faltering TV sitcom "Oh Grow Up!" about two roommates who take in a third suitor who says he left his wife because he realized he was gay. No wonder the networks are losing almost one million viewers annually.

          As America's drug czar back in 1990, William Bennett made the strong argument to the movie industry that glamorizing drug use on screen was harmful. The effects of his convictions were immediately noticeable when the film industry began to lessen its depiction of drug use, and when it did depict substance abuse at all, it was shown as destructive, addictive, and criminal. But, with the now widely publicized friendship between Spielberg and President Clinton, there's obviously no argument coming from the White House, especially with Clinton's past history of drug abuse and adultery. This silence may be due to Clinton's seduction by the film business and perhaps the chance to work for DreamWorks or even replace Jack Valenti as President of the Motion Picture Association of America as we shall see in future installments. The thought of that alone would surely spread greater mayhem on the screen.

          Now the talk in the movie trade magazines is that "American Beauty" is the Oscar favorite, especially having won the Golden Globe award by the Euro-Trash Hollywood Foreign Press Association. What does that tell you about Hollywood values? Remember, you don't vote for the Golden Globe winners and you don't vote for Oscar nominations; that's for the industry to decide.

          And what does that tell you about Steven Spielberg's values? The director of such great films as "Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's List," and many others has now been elevated to the ranks of a major cartel drug pusher.

    Michael Vincent Boyer


March 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 47

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