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Jewish World Review Jan. 23, 2003 / 20 Shevat 5763

Steve Young

Steve Young
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Can we really blame HBO for terrorism?




http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Newt Gingrich and Peter Schweitzer think television programming creates a horrid depiction of America overseas. That "We Can Thank Hollywood for Our Ugly-American Image."

Gingrich and Schweitzer point to a study , "The Next Generation's Image of Americans" by Boston University professors, Melvin and Mary DeFleur, that points to Tony Soprano and "Sex & The City" as TV programming which perpetuates our unflattering picture to foreign teens who "are the ones who are trained and equipped to conduct terrorist acts."

My question: How do these potential terrorists afford HBO when I can't? Does the terrorist recruitment package now include Direct TV? I can understand their not getting basic cable, but who is financing their premium package? Can we trace TiVos For Terrorists movement to the wife of some Saudi Arabian Prince. What happened to the good old days when forty virgins brought in the idiots willing to strap on the bomb belt?

And if these guys are getting cable, don't they watch Nickelodeon, PAX, the Animal Planet, Discovery, the Disney Channel or any of the Health Channels? TVLand offers us Leave It To Beaver, Andy Griffith and Dick Van Dyke. Do teens overseas think America is black and white.

Even more so, I would love to know what Newt and the DeFleurs have been watching. As a television writer myself, I would give my liberal WGA health plan (Not really. I'm only making a point here) to write on a show where bad guys win some of the time. It's unexpected. Unfortunately, networks tend to rehash the same old, same old, because on most every show, comedy or drama, the good guys end up winning out; high morales up the ying-yang; messages that in America, it's better to do the right thing and in the end, Ray Romano will love his wife and kids.

Now, if the study found that teens in foreign markets thought that network TV was bereft of originality, intelligence or risk, or that there is more reality TV than the nutritionally-deprived stomach could handle. If these same teens choose to blow up development offices of the major networks, I would understand.

Face it, foreign teens watching American TV isn't dangerous nor does it get them angry enough to attack America....that is unless they watch The Wayne Brady Show. Now tell me that wouldn't make for a great recruitment poster for terrorists.



JWR contributor Steve Young, Prism Award winner and Humanitas Prize nominee for his television writing, is contributing editor at the Writers Guild of America's "Written By" magazine. He is the author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful: Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Stepping Stones to Success," "The 130 Tales of Winchell Mink," Harper Collins (Winter, 2003) and the director/writer of "My Dinner With Ovitz." His website is www.greatfailure.com. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Steve Young