It didn’t take long. Just 10 days after the Bushies reclaimed the White House and Dubya declared he had a mandate to enact whatever he pleases, rightwingers of all stripes have taken that as a cue to widen the crusade for their causes.The core groups that voted the Republicans back into office have been emboldened not only to stand up for their own values but to discredit ones with which they disagree. The Silent Majority they are not. It was probably just a matter of time before Hollywood felt the heat and pop culture gets pilloried even further. We may look back in a few years to see that Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11″ — and the constituencies to which they appealed — were the first telling signs of this political and cultural divide. Already, hang-dog Democrats have started their soul-searching, with even Bill Clinton suggesting, “If you let people believe that our party doesn’t believe in faith and family … that’s our fault.” Hollywood, too, may be pushed to do the same sort of breast-beating. A clutch of right-thinking station groups, affils of ABC, decided not to air Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” on Veterans Day because of its four-letter words — or because they might risk fines from the FCC for having done so. (There are some three-dozen “f” words in the film and Spielberg’s contracts do not allow for any cuts whatsoever to his movies.) There’s no doubt that standards of decency in media are needed, but censoring a realistic portrayal of the D-Day invasion — a film, by the way, that most of these stations had already shown in its entirety several years ago — seems absurd. What do folks think U.S. soldiers are uttering as they storm Fallujah only to find thatmost of the insurgents had already slithered away? Something in the culture has malfunctioned, and it’s not just Janet Jackson’s wardrobe. There is something very 1950s about the climate that’s being whipped up here. Right-thinking groups in the Midwest are also gathering to protest Bill Condon’s “Kinsey,” a warts-and-all look at the controversial sex researcher. One of those offended by the movie is a group awkwardly (and worryingly) called the Concerned Women for American Culture and Family Institute, which compared Kinsey to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele and to “a horror-flick mad scientist.” One Midwest-based college org called Generation Life is threatening to picket theaters in Idaho that are screening the picture. If this isn’t a repudiation of the generation of 1968, I don’t know what is. Hollywood creators may soon start to second-guess themselves, toning down content or discarding “out-there” concepts rather than trying to shape them into something generally acceptable but still provocative. It will be interesting to see what happens to the just-announced miniseries project on the 10 Commandments, which will allow 10 directors to interpret the biblical strictures according to their own modern-day lights. Aside from the curious fact that the Steven Soderbergh-George Clooney project has been greenlit by cabler FX — the outlet that airs “The Shield” and “Nip/Tuck” — there are other reasons to imagine that this undertaking will be anything but smooth sailing. The Rupert Murdoch empire, of which FX is a part, may be right leaning in its politics but it’s never been known for its religiosity. If evangelical enthusiasts wake up to this development, the project could prove as nightmarish for Fox and company as “The Reagans” mini did for CBS.
- Triptyk Studios, New York, New York
- Petrol Advertising, Burbank, California
- Bridgewater Associates, Westport, Connecticut
- Company Confidential, Aspen, Colorado
- Save the Children, Fairfield, Connecticut