Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) again lashed out at Hollywood and the music industry May 31, proclaiming that showbiz’s role in the “mainstreaming of deviancy” must end.
The presumptive Republican front-runner in the 1996 presidential race delivered his remarks at a fundraising dinner in Los Angeles, where he was particularly harsh on honchos at Time Warner for the “marketing of evil through commerce.”
“I cannot bring myself to repeat the lyrics of some of the music Time Warner promotes,” said Dole. “But our children do… I would like to ask the executives of Time Warner a question: Is this what you intended to accomplish with your careers? You have sold your souls, but must you debase our nation and threaten our children, as well?”
The speech marked the third time Dole has bashed Hollywood’s alleged lack of “family values” since he announced his bid for the presidency. Beltway insiders have speculated the attacks are in part politically motivated to appease the ascendant right wing of the Republican party.
“The American entertainment industry is at the cutting edge of creative excellence, but also too often the leading edge of a culture becoming dangerously coarse,” said Dole.
Dole singled out the films “Natural Born Killers” and “True Romance” and rap groups Cannibal Corpse, Geto Boys and 2 Live Crew as examples of modern culture gone awry.
Reaction from the entertainment industry to Dole’s speech was swift, with Motion Picture Assn. of America prexy Jack Valenti leading the defense.
Valenti said Hollywood “is an inviting target for politicians to bash. It’s almost a no-lose situation.” But he said few pols are willing to acknowledge what he called “the ascending curve of quality films that are far less violent and far less sensual than ever.”
He cited the recent releases “Casper,” “Forget Paris” and “A Little Princess.” Even the more violent “Rob Roy” and “Braveheart” have the underlying theme of a fight for freedom, said Valenti.
The MPAA head conceded that a handful of pics push the edge of the envelope. But, he said, “There are 535 members of Congress. You can always point to two or three that aren’t doing their duty to virtue and fidelity.”
A Time Warner spokesman said the company “appreciate(s) Mr. Dole’s views” and noted that the entire record industry is reviewing the issue of labeling music with questionable lyrics.