Why Hollywood Still Embraces Lieberman
Michael Medved - August 18, 2000 - Jewish World Review
Disclaimer: Justice4JP does not endorse or oppose any candidate in the Presidential elections. Justice4JP does however see it as our responsibility to the public to reveal how any candidate's position on the Pollard case is a reflection of that candidate's commitment to the truth, or alternately a reflection of his willingness to subvert principles of honesty, justice, and fair play to political goals. See Justice4JP Release 08/16/00.
Joe Lieberman will almost surely repeat his familiar demands that Hollywood
curb its emphasis on violent and sex-drenched entertainment. And leaders
of the entertainment industry, some of whom are attending the Democratic
Convention here in Los Angeles, will listen to his remarks without expressing
displeasure in any way. In fact, one of Lieberman's prime targets in pop
culture, Jerry Springer, already has endorsed Al Gore's selection of
the Connecticut senator, calling it "a great choice."
Despite the fact that Lieberman once awarded Springer the "Silver Sewer
Award," for "purveying filth and pandering to the most base instincts,"
sleaze king now proudly declares, "I look forward to supporting the
As a matter of fact, nearly everyone in Hollywood plans similar support
for the Gore-Lieberman team, managing to forgive - or forget - Lieberman's
harsh criticism of entertainment excess. Variety the "Bible" of the
how-business community, commented the day after his selection that "despite
a shrill record of Hollywood bashing, few in town were willing
Monday to return the favor by blasting his pick." Jack Valenti, president
of the Motion Picture Association of America , bravely predicted: "He's
not going to be vindictive and will espouse what he has been espousing.
I think he's a great choice. I'm talking about for my country."
This cheerful acceptance of Lieberman presents a striking contrast
to the Hollywood response to another vice-presidential candidate who once
pointed out the destructive influence of popular entertainment. During
the campaign of 1992, Dan Quayle questioned the way Murphy Brown
glamorized women choosing to raise their children in fatherless households.
The vice president never went nearly as far as Lieberman - who has
suggested using governmental power (through denial of Federal Communications
Commission licenses, if necessary) to force more responsible behavior on
the entertainment industry.
Last year, in fact, Lieberman said that if the entertainment industry
"continues to market death and degradation to our children and continues
to pay no heed to the genuine bloodshed staining our communities, then
one way or the other the government will act." Quayle never made any such
direct threats against the show-business community. Nevertheless, the
Republican vice president became the object of derision and indignation,
condemned in every conceivable forum by leaders of the entertainment
Why should two politicians who warn Americans about the impact of mass
media inspire such different responses from the princes of pop culture?
One misleading explanation involves Lieberman's Jewish faith. According
to this logic - advanced in reports in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere
- prominent Jewish executives and creative personnel will accept criticism
from one of their own that they would never tolerate from a gentile. Tribal
solidarity, in other words, trumps personal discomfort.
This argument flies in the face of recent experience - in particular,
my own. Like Lieberman, I'm an observant Jew - president of an Orthodox
synagogue for 15 years. And like Lieberman, I've been an aggressive critic
of what I consider irresponsible corporate behavior by leading media
conglomerates. Unlike, Lieberman, however, I've provoked hysterical
denunciation by leaders of the entertainment establishment. After publication
of my best-selling book Hollywood vs. America in 1992, I
found myself condemned by industry insiders as a "Nazi," "lunatic,"
"racist" and "dangerous demagogue."
The factor that insulates Lieberman from similarly hostile responses
isn't his religious commitment; it's his political identity.
He's a Democrat, and on key social issues such as abortion and gay
rights, he's a conventional liberal. Hollywood cares far more about politics
than it does about religion or ethnicity. In fact, one could make the case
that the reigning religious faith in Tinseltown isn't Judaism (or Buddhism,
or Scientology, for that matter): It's liberalism.
Anyone who doubts this proposition should consider the agenda that
shows up on screen. Despite constant muttering by fringe groups about the
"Jewish domination of Hollywood," you can't name a single big-studio
film of the past 20 years that glorified or glamorized Israel. (Exodus
in 1960.) Meanwhile, negative Jewish stereotypes - of brassy women
and nerdy, neurotic guys, turn up regularly on TV and film.
While it's difficult to spot a specifically Jewish agenda in recent
pop culture, liberal messages have been impossible to miss.
Consider such films as Erin Brockovich, The American President, Cider
House Rules; and The Insider - not to mention such television shows as
The West Wing. Such political preaching seems all the more striking
in the absence of major projects with overt conservative messages to balance
Hollywood's trendy leftism.
The same pattern holds true if you look at Hollywood's charitable giving.
Liberal political causes - very much including the Democratic Party -
dominate the industry's definition of "compassion," taking obvious
precedence over Jewish communal charities.
In this context, the entertainment industry's embrace of Joe Lieberman
makes perfect sense. Despite his criticism of show business, leaders of
mass media don't worry about his crusade for accountability because in
the final analysis they don't take it too seriously. Since liberal causes
represent the core commitments of their lives, they assume that these passions
also will take priority for Lieberman - well ahead of his showy assaults
on the industry.
After all, before Jack Valenti became a spokesman for the motion-picture
industry, he served as a loyal aide to President Lyndon Johnson. And prior
to achieving national notoriety as a TV talker, Jerry Springer won election
as a Democratic mayor of Cincinnati and ran a failed campaign as a McGovernite
With this shared background, Springer and his friends will listen respectfully
to any criticism Lieberman sends their way in his big speech, and will
happily ignore their messy, distracting disagreement about media sleaze.
Michael Medved hosts a daily radio talk show broadcast in more than
120 cities throughout the United States.
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