Hollywood's Soda-Pop Statism

December 2, 2011 - 5:50 AM
The Hollywood elite's concern for the children stops at the water's edge of physical fitness. They simply do not touch the subject of moral fitness. On The Huffington Post, former entertainment executive Laurie David offered this pre-holiday piece of encouragement: "Thanksgiving Conversation Starter: Is It Time to Ban Soda Ads on Prime Time Television?"

At the same time that the broadcast networks are allowing - even advocating - the removal of all limitations on nudity or profanity on TV, at any hour of the day, David is most upset about those old polar bear ads for Coca-Cola: "Knowing what I know now about the effects of sugary drinks on children, the image of kids chugging down a Coke (or in this case polar bear cubs) evokes the same feelings I'd get if they were taking a deep drag on cigarettes."

David, the ex-wife of sleazy HBO comedy star Larry David, was dead serious about forcing a soda-ad ban on TV. "Corporations are no longer allowed to advertise cigarettes on TV due to the potential impact it could have on our kids." She insisted that TV banned hard-liquor ads voluntarily. "Can you imagine! It is now time to institute a similar TV advertising ban on soda. We are in the midst of a health epidemic. Someone has to start caring."

Someone has to start caring? That's rich coming from anyone in Hollywood. The Huffington Post is not careful about publishing "facts" generated by Hollywood activists, so many of which are simply not true. Try this bizarre claim: For teenagers, "soft drinks are the number one source of calories in their diet." That makes no scientific sense and no common sense. But then, the last time Laurie David made news, she and singer Sheryl Crow were demanding everyone only use one square of toilet paper per restroom visit to save the planet (I kid you not), so sense has never been expected from her.

David and her preferred experts, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, don't draw the line at carbonated drinks. Oh, no. They also object to children being encouraged in any way to consume Kool-Aid, Sunny D, Capri Sun, Gatorade and even Vitamin Water.

David's not the first critic to compare sugary drinks to tobacco, even though the former is not addictive or harmful to your health when taken in moderation. The New York Times asked last year "Is Soda the New Tobacco?" They wanted taxes and warning labels "to help dam the river of sugared drinks that Americans pour into ever-fatter bodies each year." The headline read: "Soda: A Sin We Sip Instead of Smoke?"

It amazes me how some find "sin" in soda pop, but no "sin" in televised profanity and sexual gymnastics.

David reports the American Academy of Pediatrics found five years ago that young children and teens view more than 3,000 ads a year, on television alone, and "that young children - younger than 8 years - are cognitively and psychologically defenseless against advertising." Dr. Steven Abrams, a nutrition expert with the Academy, advised "we should make it easier for kids to make the right choices. Kids are easily influenced by what they see."

So using that monkey-see, monkey-do logic, it must also be argued that young children are defenseless against the avalanche of televised sewage in between the commercials. When two teenage female characters on "Glee" engage in a lesbian make-out session or sing "I Kissed A Girl," how is that processed any differently by a "psychologically defenseless" 8-year-old child? Is any rational person willing to deny that raunchy teen sex scenes, bloody violence or profanity are more objectionable and more difficult for a child to process than animated polar bears sipping out of Coke bottles?

Earth to David: You missed the boat. The same bohemians who object to any limitation on broadcasting content when it's "art" made by Hollywood will support an "Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children" in the government that recommends commercials be restricted unless the food manufacturers meet strict nutritional requirements.

An industry group called the Sensible Food Policy Coalition answers that this form of censorship would prohibit the advertising of 88 of the 100 most commonly consumed foods - including carrot juice, 2-percent milk, peanut butter, wheat bread, scrambled eggs, canned corn and canned tuna. These kinds of food are subsidized under the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, but they should be banned from TV?

This plan was not greeted well at a House hearing in mid October. David was outraged that this interagency working group in the government was caving in to industry lobbying pressure when all this infernal advertising for sugary drinks should be forbidden.

The food industry has proposed to self-regulate under its Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and devote most of its marketing on "better-for-you foods." Let's hope they are more sincere and effective than Hollywood with its commitment to create "better-for-you television" for families to watch.