Lawmakers Launch Bipartisan Effort Aimed at Entertainment Industry

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

Washington (CNS) - A bipartisan coalition of senators, led by Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), announced a new effort to get the entire entertainment industry, including movies, television, music, video games, and the Internet, to voluntarily eliminate gratuitous sex and violence from their products in order to protect the youth of America from their negative impact.

"The real seat of power in our country is not Washington, but Hollywood," said Brownback at a news conference, where he and Lieberman were joined by Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX), John McCain (R-AZ) and Kent Conrad (D-ND).

"For 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 here," said Brownback.

Also appearing at the event was Empower America co-director William J. Bennett, who joined the lawmakers and dozens of prominent people in signing a letter sent to leading entertainment executives asking that the industry devise a voluntary code to curb media violence.

Some of the signers are former U.S. presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter; generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf; former New York governor Mario Cuomo, former senator Sam Nunn; and show business personalities Steve Allen, Naomi Judd, Carol Lawrence, and Joan Van Ark.

Bennett told that the group is not advocating censorship, but is only asking that sex and violence be depicted responsibly and in the proper context.

"Saving Private Ryan
is an example of violence portrayed in the proper context," said Bennett. The film graphically depicts the WWII invasion of the Normandy beachhead, where thousands of Allied troops suffered bloody deaths from German gunfire.

The letter was sent to leading entertainment executives such as Disney CEO Michael Eisner, News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch, Howard Stringer CEO of Sony Corporation of America, and Hilary Rosen CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, who according to Lieberman, have not responded to the letter.

"This is not an attack on Hollywood," said Lieberman. "It is an appeal to Hollywood to work with us as a national community in a joint effort to reduce the corrosive messages the media too often send our kids."

While the letter appealed to Hollywood to exercise caution and discretion in the matters of sex and violence, it made no mention of how the industry should address other activities that may harm children, and are in fact illegal for them to engage in such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or gambling.

"Those activities can be a problem," Media Social Responsibility Project Director Patrick Glynn told "But for now we think it's best to focus on sex and violence to get the industry to work with us."

Lieberman said that this effort gives the entertainment industry "a specific agenda" to focus on. "Part of the problem, we have come to realize, is that if we want to overcome the entertainment industry's resistance, then we have to do a better job of giving them something to say 'yes' to," said Lieberman.