IT’S A HISTORIC MONTH. Hollywood is finally taking responsibility for its actions.
Oh, some may say that the industry is just caving in to the complaints of a few vocal legislators, religious leaders and parents. But the important thing is that, for the first time, Hollywood has admitted that in the world of entertainment, artistic ideas and logic are of secondary importance. (Reel Life had suspected this for years, but until now could never get official confirmation.)
When a 5-year-old set fire to his house, and his mother blamed MTV’s animated “Beavis and Butt-Head,” the cable channel scratched the 7 p.m. airing of the show and cut all references to fire from the latenight airing. When injury and death resulted from youths allegedly imitating a scene in the current film “The Program,” Disney edited out the scene and its brief appearance in the coming attraction trailer.
Who says Hollywood doesn’t have a heart?
The “Program” sequence features several drunken college football players lying down in the center of a busy thoroughfare. In Pennsylvania, 18-year-old Michael Shingledecker was killed when he and his friends lay down on the dividing line of a highway. His parents said he clearly was mimicking the scene from the film; his mom stated: “Michael would never come up with this on his own. He was adventurous but not stupid.”
Given the evidence, it seems clear: TV, films and records have WILLED people to do stupid things.
Oh, yes, some smarty-pants people will blame the parents or even the youngsters themselves for these tragic incidents. But you can’t expect parents, burdened with daily concerns such as personal fulfillment, cellulite and the Whoopi Goldberg roast, to monitor everything their kids watch. These adults have their own lives to live, for Pete’s sake.
And obviously these youngsters were nice, normal kids — just like those innocent, well-adjusted teens who unaccountably flipped out when they heard the Judas Priest record and tried to kill themselves. (Admittedly, listening to the Olsen twins’ new song “I Am the Cute One” did inspire momentary thoughts of suicide in Reel Life, but that’s a whole other subject.)
No, it’s clear: Show business is the source of most dangerous ideas in society. Our first, our only concern should be the well-being of children — especially children who are “adventurous but not stupid.”
The good news, confirmed this month, is that — whether it’s films or TV, rap music or Howard Stern, nudity or sexual innuendo — Hollywood lives in fear that somebody somewhere may be offended, and is willing to give in to just about any complaint.
But Hollywood needs to go further. Clearly, “Beavis and Butt-Head” can be cleaned up even more without hurting its artistic integrity: The show should aspire to be a more positive, wholesome cartoon like the consistently hilarious “The Family Circus.” And, in light of the many injuries sustained in the sport, Disney should also consider eliminating all references to football from “The Program.”
So as a start — admittedly, this is just a tip of the iceberg — let’s look at some existing works that need reevaluation. C’mon, people, if we all pitch in , we can eliminate these scenes and make the world of entertainment safe for everybody.
Shakespeare’s “King Lear”– In the heath scene, Lear’s speech begins “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks.” The line should be cut after “Blow winds,” since the young and impressionable may take this as an invitation to moon their elders.
“Gone With the Wind”– The “I’ll never be hungry again” scene may give kids the idea that it is safe to eat unwashed vegetables.
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”– May encourage thrill seekers to shout out four-letter words as they jump off cliffs into rivers.
“Risky Business” and “Truth or Dare”– Might encourage young people to dance around in their underwear. Latter film also might give them ideas of rude things to do with bottles of Evian.
QVC — Could set off a flurry of buying ceramic monkeys, Vanna White dolls and Connie Stevens cosmetics.
“Camille”– The distributor should cut out scenes in which Greta Garbo forgets to cover her mouth before she coughs.
“All About Eve” and “Casablanca”– Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, respectively, constantly neglect to ask people’s permission before they light up.
“Bonnie & Clyde”– May encourage kids to shoot people, rob banks or, worse, listen to banjo music.
“The Honeymooners”– Edit out all “To the moon, Alice” references, since it gives the impression that domestic conflict can be solved by threats of violence.
“Ghost”– Wives may begin to fantasize that their relationship with their husband might be better if he were dead.
“To Kill a Mockingbird”– May encourage young children to walk alone in dangerous wooded areas while dressed as a ham.
Happy endings — Cut all of them. They may give youngsters a false sense of reality.
Hollywood must continue to give in to these vocal critics, and we should be grateful that they’re keeping America in line. People in the ’90s have so many other things on their minds, it’s unfair to expect us to also take responsibility for our actions. We’re busy, we’re distracted. And we’re adventurous.
But we’re certainly not stupid.