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Censorship on the Rise in Hollywood
by Scott Holleran
October 15, 2005
Burbank, California—If you thought Janet Jackson's Super Bowl nipple flash launched a religious revival in Washington, wait until the government gets hold of the movies. Conservative Congressman Mike Pence (R, IN) slipped a provision imposing restrictions on motion pictures into the Republican government's latest sex crime bill, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Brooks Boliek.
The clause cracks the whip, expanding the state's definition of what constitutes sex in movies and television. The Hoosier Republican's proposed rule, which Boliek reports was included at the behest of the Bush Administration, is retroactive to 1995, so it casts a wide net. It is pure censorship and, unless studios want to make pictures for popes and ayatollahs, Hollywood ought to hit back hard, fast and often—working the phones, canceling campaign checks and taking action—and they ought to do so on principle.
At stake are individual rights—absolute, 100 percent inalienable rights—the freedom to think, create and consume without government intervention. Boliek's important article, which correctly describes the new dictate as "chilling," points out that this law would be unenforceable, and, while that is true, it is not grounds for a fundamental opposition. America was founded on the idea of man's rights, which means freedom of speech—not freedom of speech except for what religious moralists deem to be harmful speech. That is the only message Hollywood must deliver to the government: Hands off our property and leave our rights alone!
Government Porn Squad
Tepid statements won't stop the assault on speech—and the President's faith-based feds are just getting started, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) applying religious morality to the World Wide Web, too, recruiting agents to target adults who read, view and use pornography. As the Washington Post reports, "[t]he new [Porn Squad] will divert eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography—not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults."
So, besides imagining The Accused without the rape scene, or Inherit the Wind minus Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution—presumably replaced by so-called Intelligent Design—or Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry without Burt Lancaster's licentiousness, one must also prepare for a World Wide Web controlled—increasingly, insidiously—by the state.
Censorship is not new, but its escalation under the current administration is alarming, with regulation of every conceivable form of speech—spending money, visiting Web chat rooms, making movies—and of course its empowerment of a huge bureaucracy, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which is itself a violation of free speech. Check out the FCC's arbitrary guidelines for a preview of what to expect from Web and Hollywood censors. As the mutilation of what the Founding Fathers intended—a nation based on the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—it is disgraceful.
Rather than resist the Bush Administration's faith-based regulations, studios are instead cozying up to religion's advanced role in society and state. Last month, the New York Times reported that the Walt Disney Co., producing C.S. Lewis's Christian-themed The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, marketed The Greatest Game Ever Played to religious groups, and Twentieth Century Fox created foxfaith.com. Besides featuring what Fox claims are its Christian-based pictures, which include Satan Never Sleeps and the story of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, The Agony and the Ecstasy, the religious site promotes "church resources" and Bible verses.
Faced with three more years of the American republic's first full-fledged Christian presidency, the studios ought to knock off the bootlicking and band together to defend their rights. With Senator Clinton waiting to institute her brand of religious fundamentalism in the White House—and lefties please note it was video game regulator Hillary who proposed outlawing divorce for couples with children in her book, It Takes a Village—Hollywood hasn't a moment to lose.
• Hollywood Reporter - Buried Clause Could Tag Films, TV Shows as Porn, by Brooks Boliek
• Washington Post - Recruits Sought for Porn Squad
• FCC - Consumer Facts: Obscene, Profane & Indecent Broadcasts
• FCC - Regulation of Obscenity, Indecency and Profanity
• Fox - FoxFaith.com
PREVIOUS COLUMNS by Scott Holleran
• 10/7/05 - Paparazzi Parasites and Smokin' Soundtracks
• 10/1/05 - Restoring Disney's Wonderful World
• 9/24/05 - Garbo Shines on DVD, Hollywood to Take on Looters and Music Musings