Jewish World Review Sept. 29, 2000/ 29 Elul, 5760
For Gore and Hollywood, the mirror has two faces
WHEN AL GORE was asked to name his favorite book, he might have considered George Bernard Shaw's "Arms and the Man," in which Sergius speaks prophetically of what should constitute Gore's nightmares these days:
"Everything I think is mocked by everything I do."
As self-mockery goes, Gore's assault on Hollywood by day and his love-fests with same by night constitute a rare hypocrisy. One day, he threatens legislation to restrict advertising R-rated movies to minors; the next he's hobnobbing with the very targets of his freshly co-opted moral outrage, while fast-forwarding their million-dollar deposits to his campaign coffers.
One recent fund-raising concert at Radio City Music Hall, organized by entertainment execs, pulled down $6.5 million for the Gore campaign. Another splash, hosted last week in Los Angeles by Warner Brothers, produced $4.2 million for the Democrats.
Such under-the-table foot-play reminds me of workplace lovers who feign animosity during office hours, then rip off each other's clothes when the last secretary unplugs the coffee pot. To the average restless citizen, such drift has a certain romantically illicit allure. But for politicians posturing for the highest office of public trust, it's not quite kosher, as at least half the Democratic ticket ought to know.
In the immediate wake of all these conflicting signals, Hollywood executives appearing Sept. 27 before a Commerce Committee hearing to discuss findings of a recent Federal Trade Commission report that documents movie and video marketing strategies aimed at young children. Routinely, for example, ads for R-rated movies are aimed at those too young to see them.
Gore and his running mate Joe Lieberman have threatened to draft legislation to restrict advertising if the violence-peddlers don't impose voluntary restrictions within six months.
Where were these guys when I was fighting with my child over which movies he could and couldn't see?
Personally? I'd love to get rid of all advertising directed at children, starting with food. In a nation where 11 percent of children are obese and one in four are overweight, shouldn't we be equally outraged at the promotion of fat- and sugar-laden foods to innocent whelps?
A few years ago, I was ready to wash the feet of grocery store managers who created candy-free check-out lanes for parents of small children. I'd do the same if fast-food franchises would ditch the little action figures that correspond to adult-themed movies. Ronald McDonald, clown that he is, was handing out Batman figures to my kid when he was too young to see the PG-13 movies.
Trying to raise sweet, well-adjusted, caring children in a culture of flying body parts is, in a word, hell. So, Gore and Lieberman's moral outrage, even if borrowed, isn't misplaced. But it is , disingenuous. They apparently misunderstand the mandate to "put your money where your mouth is."
Meanwhile, everybody - including wiseacre kids who have sufficient reason to distrust adults -- see that the emperor is naked. Ironically, Hollywood - fists nevertheless clutching K-notes marked for Democrats -- has been loudest in noting the nakedly obvious. Commenting on the Gore-Lieberman pectoral display, director/screenwriter Rod Lurie said, "It's pure political pandering that's going to disappear right after the election."
Which is to say, in the absence of community standards of decency, the responsibility of raising children falls to parents. We could do worse, and we may
JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.
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