Brownback, Lieberman Ask Hollywood to Monitor Itself

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A bipartisan team of legislators and prominent citizens is appealing to the entertainment industry's sense of decency and responsibility by asking Hollywood - which once banned all nudity, profanity, brutality and drugs from motion pictures - to voluntarily curtail excessive sex and violence in films, television, music and video games.

"We are not advocating any form of censorship or government regulation," Senator Joe Lieberman, (D-CT), told CNSNews.com.

"Nor, just as importantly, are we suggesting that the [industry] whitewash all sex and violence from their products and reduce all entertainment to levels appropriate [only] for children," added Lieberman.

Earlier this week, Lieberman and Senator Sam Brownback, (R-KS), held a news conference in Los Angeles highlighting their "Appeal to Hollywood," a petition urging that city's creative community to engage in formal talks on curbing gratuitous sex and violence in the media.

"The extraordinary power and influence of entertainment media can be used for good - or for ill," said Brownback.

"What is on television, in the movies, and over the airwaves - the stories and songs of America - mold and shape hearts, minds and attitudes far more than what happens in the halls of Congress," he added.

For many years the movie industry adhered to several self-imposed codes of behavior, including the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Television Code and the so-called Hays Code adopted by the motion picture industry. Both codes placed strong emphasis on family values in television and movies, but are no longer used by the industry.

The "Appeal to Hollywood," which can be read and signed at www.media-appeal.org, is a 2,200 word plea for the industry to set voluntary guidelines. It has been signed by dozens of prominent Americans, including C. DeLores Tucker founder of the National Political Congress of Black Women; former Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter; Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf; and entertainers Naomi Judd, Steve Lawrence, Joan van Ark, Pat Boone and Carol Lawrence.

"Hollywood has an enormous influence on America, particularly the young. By making a concerted effort to turn its energies to promoting decent, shared values and strengthening American families, the entertainment industry has it within its power to help make an America worthy of the Third Millennium," says the appeal.

"We, leaders from government, the religious community, the nonprofit world, and the private sector--and members of the entertainment community--challenge the entertainment industry to this great task. We appeal to those who are reaping great profits to give something back. We believe that by choosing to do good, the entertainment industry can also make good--and both the industry and our society will be richer and better as a result," it continues.

"I pray our friends in the media industry will accept the responsibility that comes with -- and indeed preserves -- our freedom, for the sake of our children, our families, and our national heritage," said Boone in a statement that was released at the news conference.

According to Mark Honig, director of the Parents Television Council and a supporter of the Appeal, there has been no response from network television executives. However, he did tell CNSNews.com that corporate sponsors were beginning to become more sensitive to the content of the shows they fund. The Parents Television Council is a division of the Media Research Center which is the parent organization of CNSNews.com.

"If you are going to change they way the industry works it's going to have to be through the advertisers," said Honig.

A member of Brownback's staff said that one of the goals of the "Appeal to Hollywood" is to get the attention of sponsors. "We are really trying to get those who make, produce and underwrite the movies and TV shows to think a little more deeply about the impact of their products," Cherie Harder told CNSNews.com.