And it's not just political agendas Hollywood pushes. Even ostensibly innocuous films like the blockbuster cartoon "Shrek 2" sneak in a message here and there. When I took my granddaughter to see the film over the weekend, I was amazed to see a foppish Prince Charming go off into the sunset with a transvestite "ugly sister" when Princess Fiona chose the ogre Shrek over him at the conclusion of the film. Larry King's unmistakable gravelly baritone made the character's cross-dressing obvious to the adults in the audience. Sure the gag went over the heads of most of the kids in the theater, but it wasn't particularly funny and seemed aimed only at adding a "gay" theme to a children's film.
No wonder an increasing number of Americans never go to the movies these days. The Gallup Organization reports that nearly one third of Americans haven't stepped foot in a movie theater in the previous 12 months, and even those who did go to the movies saw fewer films in 2003 than the previous year.
Samuel Goldwyn, one of the giants of the movie industry, is reported to have said, "If you want to send a message, call Western Union." But too many producers, directors and actors these days fail to heed his advice. Hollywood will start filling theaters once again when it stops churning out agitprop and starts producing entertainment.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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