Hollywood vs America: popular culture & the war on traditional values

Michael Medved, HarperCollins 1992

By Rose A Dyson (reviewer)

As one of Hollywood's best known film critics, Michael Medved effectively argues that Hollywood has broken faith with its viewing public, creating movies, television and popular music that foster and reinforce our most critical social problems, ranging from teenage pregnancy and alienation to violence in the streets. The entertainment industry follows its own dark obsessions, rather than giving the public what it wants. Pursuit of peer respect has taken precedence over financial considerations. He explains that, "By sneering at zealots and deriding conventional religious beliefs, a filmmaker can win the respect of his colleagues, even if his work is rejected by the larger public."

Consistent attacks on traditional values that result in glorified brutality and undermined authority whether it involves the parent, the teacher, the police or the government have led to a profound disillusionment in recent years, with disastrous consequences for many entertainment companies. An analysis, for example, of domestic releases between 1983 and 1989 demonstrated an unmistakable public preference for family-oriented material. Nevertheless, the tendency is to ignore popular tastes and to follow the direction of intellectual trends emanating from New York and Los Angeles.

At the same time, growing numbers of citizen and parent groups protest the decline in quality of our popular culture. Medved maintains that Hollywood ignores and assaults the values of ordinary people at its own peril. By pursuing a self-destructive and alienated ideological agenda it is not only harming the nation at large but its own industrial best interests

Medved analyzes the industry's suicidal tendencies as cheap industrial ingredients which allow lazy scriptwriters to thrive. The industry has become mired in an addiction to violence, the promotion of promiscuity, an infatuation with foul language, denial, celebration of ugliness, hostility to heroes and the poison of pessimism.

He concludes by outlining some promising efforts both in and outside Hollywood for a return to sanity and restraint in mass entertainment. The book is a refreshing commentary from someonewho understands popular culture in its production stages and who has added his voice to the growing chorus of demand for change.

Peace Magazine Jun-Jul 1993

Peace Magazine Jun-Jul 1993, page 28. Some rights reserved.

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