You had to go outside the United States to catch some of the outrage. The Vancouver Sun editorialized: "Canada and France championed the treaty, whose effect is to ensure that cultural products (yes, those foul movies and music videos the United States exports to eager consumers around the world) aren't covered under free-trade agreements and can be subsidized, tariffed, regulated and generally mauled in any way governments choose."
From Tinseltown, the Los Angeles Times did write an editorial suggesting France and Canada were "ardent advocates" protecting their own media industries from "the onslaught of tasteless American media," and predicted that any limitation on the availability of "American slasher films and teen road-trip movies" was destined to fail, since those products will make their way into many countries via bootlegged DVDs or the Internet. But there was not one syllable wasted on French-baiting or UNESCO-bashing.
From Minneapolis, conservative columnist James Lileks did opine that promoting willy-nilly American cultural exports was a bit iffy. "Do we really want to defend the right of American record companies to export Li'l Kim diatribes against all the B-word rapperettes who set her up?" He then asked this great question: "Doesn't it bother anyone that China has entire factories devoted to pumping out pirated copies of 'Scarface,' because the global demand for rags-to-twitches cocaine opera is so insatiable?"
It's a terrific point. It certainly is embarrassing traveling to a foreign country and watching American re-runs pouring out of their TV sets. Hollywood produces America's most powerful cultural export, and much of it is garbage. But for a country like France to object is an exercise in sheer hypocrisy. Turn on French TV at night and you get completely uncensored pornography.
This international movement for cultural "diversity" is not opposed to American media violence and vulgarity, per se -- just to America's dominant influence and commercialism in general.
So where's the outrage? The silence from the pundits and philosophers, so quick to defend on purely economic grounds ("The market wants it!") the filth on American TV, has demonstrated that national outrage over Hollywood "censorship" is conditional. It depends on who is advocating some limits. If it's foreigners inveighing against American capitalist excess, there's no controversy. If it's Americans standing up for traditional values, it's World War III. It's a fascinating double standard.
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