Debra J. Saunders
9/19/2000 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
How delicious it has been to see Vice President Al Gore trash the entertainment industry for "false and deceptive advertising." Bill Bradley must have busted a gut laughing over that line. After Gore's many misrepresentations of Bradley's health-care proposal and false denials that the veep had changed his position on abortion, Gore's anger over false promotion is, well, special.
You have to love Gore's new threat to have the federal government regulate advertising if Hollywood doesn't start advertising video games, music and movies more ethically. He told Oprah the threat was "not about censorship, it's about citizenship." And: "We're calling for industry self-restraint and self-regulation, not censorship."
There's only one answer to that crock. Studio heads should buy a billboard that says: "No controlling legal authority."
Add a head shot of the presidential candidate campaigning on a promise to clean up dirty big money in politics, while arguing he shouldn't have to swear off the bad green until the law makes him do it. Knowing no shame, he then asserts that exploitation film producers should show more civic spirit peddling sex and violence than he has shown trying to wheedle his way into the people's White House.
Which Al Gore should voters believe?
There's the 1985 Al Gore who supported his wife Tipper's efforts to pressure the industry into labeling music with violent or highly sexualized lyrics. He's the Al Gore who praised then-Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., for holding a congressional hearing on nasty rock lyrics.
Then there's the 1987 Al Gore who, running for the White House, told a confab of Hollywood big Demo donors, "I was not in favor of the hearing." As "Variety" reported, Tipper told the entertainment biggies that the hearing was "a mistake .'.'. that sent the wrong message." (I'll bet he gave her a big wet one for that performance.) And: "I am not for government intervention."
The 1999 Al Gore went to Hollywood for a meeting with media moguls after President Clinton commissioned a federal study into the industry's marketing of violence. Team Gore would not let the media know what Gore said, but the Los Angeles Times reported that Gore told the suits the study was Clinton's idea, not his. That Al Gore attracted some $13 million in Holly wood money for his and other Democratic campaign committees for this election.
Now there's the 2000 Al Gore who believes that if Hollywood suits don't shape up, he can treat them the same way he treated tobacco companies. Take their money when it's expedient, burn them when it's expedient.
Readers should take note at what happens when pandering pols start going after people's rights. They start with tobacco, then go after guns, and before you know it, they're looking at your job or hobby.
I'm all for using the White House bully pulpit to shame Hollywood into better behavior, but shameless people can't shame others. Worse, Gore's quickness to call for regulating speech isn't about scolding, it's about chilling.
If the federal government can determine that certain movies shouldn't be advertised in front of children, are books the next frontier? Shouldn't the government have to establish a link between a video game or music video and juvenile crime before using the heavy hand of regulation? Will this tack lead to a slew of public and private lawsuits, as it has with tobacco and guns, intended to silence free expression?
George W. Bush has a more reasonable take on the issue. "I'm going to remind moms and dads, their biggest responsibility is to make sure their children are not watching and/or playing violent video games," Bush said.
This is a matter for families to regulate, not the government.
Which makes me wonder what happened to liberals who are supposed to reject the notion of a big government determining what can be said to whom. It seems their desire for a Demo victory is stronger than their belief that the government shouldn't regulate speech. Or do they think government should chill speech when they are in charge?
Dan Quayle was greeted with howls of indignation from the Left when he said that Murphy Brown's out-of-wedlock baby didn't set a good example for America's kids. Gore says the government will bear down on producers who say the wrong words to kids ... yet his scary talk is greeted with silence.