William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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BLAMING HOLLYWOOD – AT 9:30 A.M. ET:  As readers know, I am no fan of today's Hollywood.  In fact, there really isn't a Hollywood any longer.  Those "studios" out there are just plaster palaces housing business offices and a few soundstages.  The Hollywood of the golden age, with glorious movies and larger-than-life stars, disappeared decades ago. 

But I also don't think it's right to put so much blame on Hollywood for the violence in our society.  My experience has been that Hollywood follows the culture.  It doesn't create it.  From The Hill:

A national effort to get at the root of gun violence following the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. last week is putting a spotlight on motion picture studios.

While the majority of the attention has been focused on gun control laws and violence in video games, lawmakers and industry groups have also targeted the movie and television industry for producing shoot 'em up thrillers and other bloody content.

Movie studios have been conscious of the sensitive climate in the wake of the tragic shooting that claimed the lives of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 young children.
Paramount Pictures delayed the Pittsburgh premiere for the action film "Jack Reacher" after it was originally scheduled to take place the day after the shooting, and offered its condolences to the families in Newtown in a company statement.

The Weinstein Company cancelled the premiere for Quentin Tarantino's new film "Django Unchained," opting to to hold a private screening instead, The New York Times reported. Even 20th Century Fox chose not to hold the premiere for its upcoming comedy film "Parental Guidance," according to the Times.

The lobbying organization that represents the movie studios in Washington, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), publicly stated this week that it stands ready to take part in the national conversation following the tragedy.

Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) issued a statement saying the industry wants "to do our part to help America heal" after the shooting.

Dodd represented the Connecticut for more than 30 years before taking the helm of MPAA. Last Friday, he participated in a nighttime vigil on the National Mall that honored victims of the shooting.

Dodd butted heads with gun rights advocates, including with the National Rifle Association (NRA), when he was on Capitol Hill.

COMMENT:  The 1930s, the gangster era in America, actually saw a decline in crime.  In 1932, the height of the gangster period, with films to match, there were 579 murders in New York.  In 1990, a time of relative quiet, there were 2,245.  The population size was roughly equal. 

The same movies are shown all over the country, no matter how rotten they are, but murder rates vary dramatically.  As much as I dislike today's Hollywood, I think blaming movies is an excuse for the criminal class, which is why people love to do it.

December 27, 2012