JulyFour at AOL.COM
Mon Jun 19 21:13:45 MDT 1995
I found Dole's Hollywood speech at
The speech follows
REMARKS BY SENATOR BOB DOLE
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
MAY 31, 1995
Thank you very much. John, I appreciate that kind introduction.
I appreciate all the work that Lod Cook and others have done tonight --
Jim Montgomery and many of my friends who are here.
I want to talk about a specific matter tonight. I may not win an
Oscar, but I'll talk about it anyway. I want to talk to you tonight
about the future of America -- about issues of moral importance, matters
of social consequence.
Last month, during my announcement tour, I gave voice to concerns
held across this country about what is happening to our popular culture.
I made what I thought was an obvious point, a point that worries
countless American parents: that one of the greatest threats to American
family values is the way our popular culture ridicules them. Our music,
movies, television and advertising regularly push the limits of decency,
bombarding our children with destructive messages of casual violence and
even more casual sex. And I concluded that we must hold Hollywood and
the entire entertainment industry accountable for putting profit ahead of
So here I am in California -- the home of the entertainment
industry and to many of the people who shape our popular culture. And
I'm asking for their help. I believe our country is crying out for
leaders who will call us as a people to our better nature, not to profit
from our weaknesses; who will bring back our confidence in the good, not
play on our fears of life's dark corners. This is true for those of us
who seek public office. And it is true for those who are blessed with
the talent to lead America's vaunted entertainment industry.
Actors and producers, writers and directors, people of talent
around the world dream of coming to Hollywood. Because if you are the
best, this is where you are. Americans were pioneers in film, and
dominate world-wide competition today. 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.
I have two goals tonight. One is to make crystal clear to you
the effect this industry has on America's children, in the hope that it
will rise to their defense. And the other is to speak more broadly to
America about the corporate executives who hide behind the lofty language
of free speech in order to profit from the debasing of America.
There is often heard in Hollywood a kind of "aw shucks" response
to attempts to link societal effects with causes in the culture. It's
the "we just make movies people want" response. I'll take that up in a
minute. But when they go to work tomorrow, when they sift through
competing proposals for their time and their money, when they consider
how badly they need the next job, I want the leaders of the entertainment
industry to think about the influence they have on America's children.
Let there be no mistake: televisions and movie screens,
boomboxes and headsets are windows on the world for our children. If you
are too old, or too sophisticated, or too close to the problem, just ask
a parent. What to some is art, to our children is a nightly news report
on the world outside their limited experience. What to some is make
believe, to them is the "real skinny" on the adult world they are so
eager to experience. Kids know firsthand what they see in their
families, their schools, their immediate communities. But our popular
culture shapes their view of the "real world." Our children believe
those paintings in celluloid are reflections of reality. But I don't
recognize America in much of what I see.
My voice and the rising voices of millions of other Americans who
share this view represent more than the codgy old attempt of one
generation to steal the fun of another. A line has been crossed -- no
just of taste, but of human dignity and decency. It is crossed every
time sexual violence is given a catchy tune. When teen suicide is set to
an appealing beat. When Hollywood's dream factories turn out nightmares
You know what I mean. I mean "Natural Born Killers." "True
Romance." Films that revel in mindless violence and loveless sex. I'm
talking about groups like Cannibal Corpse, Geto Boys and 2 Live Crew.
About a culture business that makes money from "music" extolling the
pleasures of raping, torturing and mutilating women; from "songs" about
killing policeman and rejecting law. The mainstreaming of deviancy must
come to an end, but it will only stop when the leaders of the
entertainment industry recognize and shoulder their responsibility.
But let me be very clear: I am not saying that our growing
social problems are entirely Hollywood's fault. They are not. People
are responsible for their actions. Movies and music do not make children
into murderers. But a numbing exposure to graphic violence and
immorality does steal away innocence, smothering our instinct for
outrage. And I think we have reached the point where our popular culture
threatens to undermine our character as a nation.
Which brings me to my second point tonight. Our freedom is
precious. I have risked my life to defend it, and would do so again. We
must always be proud that in America we have the freedom to speak without
Big Brother's permission. Our freedom to reap the rewards of our
capitalist system has raised the standard of living around the world.
The profit motive is the engine of that system, and is honorable. But
those who cultivate moral confusion for profit should understand this:
we will name their names and shame them as they deserved to be shamed.
We will contest them for the heart and soul of every child, in every
neighborhood. For we who are outraged also have the freedom to speak.
If we refuse to condemn evil, it is not tolerance but surrender. And we
will never surrender.
Let me be specific. One of the companies on the leading edge of
coarseness and violence is Time Warner. It is a symbol of how much we
have lost. In the 1930s its corporate predecessor, Warner Brothers, made
a series of movies, including "G-Men," for the purpose of restoring
"dignity and public confidence in the police." It made movies to help
the war effort in the early 1940s. Its company slogan, put on a
billboard across from the studio, was "Combining Good Citizenship with
Good Picture Making."
Today Time Warner owns a company called Interscope Records which
columnist John Leo called the "cultural equivalent of owning half the
world's mustard gas factories." Ice-T of "Cop Killer" fame is one of
Time Warner's "stars." I cannot bring myself to repeat the lyrics of
some of the "music" Time Warner promotes. But our children do. There is
a difference between the description of evil through art, and the
marketing of evil through commerce. I would like to ask the executives
of Time Warner a question: Is this what you intended to accomplish with
your careers? Must you debase our nation and threaten our children for
the sake of corporate profits?
And please don't answer that you are simply responding to the
market. Because that is not true. In the movie business, as Michael
Medved points out, the most profitable films are the ones most friendly
to the family. Last year, the top five grossing films were the
blockbusters "The Lion King", "Forest Gump", "True Lies", "The Santa
Clause" and "The Flintstones." To put it in perspective, it has been
reported that "The Lion King" made six times as much money as "Natural
The corporate executives who dismiss my criticism should not
misunderstand. Mine is not the objection of some tiny group of zealots
or an ideological fringe. From inner city mothers to suburban mothers to
families in rural America -- parents are afraid, and growing angry.
There once was a time when parents felt the community of adults was on
their side. Now they feel surrounded by forces assaulting their children
and their code of values.
This is not a partisan matter. I am a conservative Republican,
but I am joined in this fight by moderates, independents and liberal
Democrats. Senator Bill Bradley has spoken eloquently on this subject,
as has Senator Paul Simon, who talks of our nation's "crisis of
glamorized violence." And leaders of the entertainment industry are
beginning to speak up, as well.
Mark Canton, the president of Universal Pictures, said, "Any
smart business person can see what we must do -- make more 'PG'-rated
films." He said, "Together . . .we can make the needed changes. If we
don't, this decade will be noted in the history books as the embarrassing
legacy of what began as a great art form. We will be labeled, 'the
decline of an empire.'"
Change is possible -- in Hollywood, and across the entertainment
industry. There are few national priorities more urgent. I know that
good and caring people work in this industry. If they are deaf to the
concerns I have raised tonight, it must be because they do not fully
understand what is at stake. But we must make them understand. We must
make it clear that tolerance does not mean neutrality between love and
cruelty, between peace and violence, between right and wrong. Ours is
not a crusade for censorship, it is a call for good citizenship.
When I announced I was running for President, I said that my
mission is to rein in our government, to reconnect the powerful with the
values which have made America strong and to reassert America's place as
a great nation in the world. Tonight I am speaking beyond this room to
some of the most powerful arbiters of our values. Tonight my challenge
to the entertainment industry is to accept a calling above and beyond the
bottom line -- to fulfill a duty to the society which provides its
profits. Help our nation maintain the innocence of its children. Prove
to us that courage and conscience are alive and well in Hollywood.
Thank you for listening to me tonight. I am grateful for the
support you have shown by being here, and feel a great sense of hope and
confidence that together we will succeed -- not only in this Presidential
race, but in our larger mission to reaffirm the goodness and greatness of
the United States of America.
Thank you very much.
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