POPULAR CULTURE IS MORE MORAL THAN IT IS GIVEN CREDIT FOR

POPULAR CULTURE IS MORE MORAL THAN IT IS GIVEN CREDIT FOR -...

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http://www.transparencynow.com/tvisok.htm Popular Culture Is More Moral (And Less Moral) Than It Is Given Credit For Ken Sanes ( 1996) With increasing frequency, it seems that Hollywood is coming under attack from the right, with accusations that it is undermining values and psychologically damaging children. At one extreme, we get the simplistic denunciations of the Reverend Donald Wildmon, whose American Family Association newsletter portrays many television programs as little more than vehicles for offensive sexual innuendo. At the other, we get the more nuanced attacks of the movie critic Michael Medved, who accuses Hollywood of trying to propagandize audiences so they will accept the misguided values of liberal cultural elites. And somewhere in the middle, mostly repeating what other people have written for him, we now have America's least believable culture critic, Bob Dole, who tells us that movies should "uplift and inspire," rather than degrading their audience with extreme depictions of sex and violence. Very few people would deny that all of these critics are responding to genuine problems in our culture. Even many members of the entertainment industry admit that Hollywood vastly overdoes the sex and violence, because it is looking for quick and easy ways to hold an audience. But when you examine what many of these critics say, it becomes obvious that their view is so restrictive, it misses most of the true moral function of entertainment. Contrary to what they would have us believe, the entertainment industry makes us better people precisely by giving us a taste of the complexities of life. Its products, most notably movies and television, allow us to vicariously explore our basic desires for self-esteem, pleasure, mastery and revenge and, most importantly, for intimacy and happiness. Since our quest for these things involves a range of human experiences, and is full of confusion and moral ambiguity, what the entertainment industry gives us often reflects that fact. Unfortunately, ideas such as these are lost on the Reverend Wildmon, a conservative activist whose "critique" of television is a good example of the constricted view of popular culture being offered by those on the right. His newsletter, the AFA Journal, includes "TV Reviews" that make it sound as if many programs are nothing but vehicles for moral depravity and sexual obsession. On an episode of Friends, it describes the characters as having "little other than illicit sex to occupy their empty lives. Storylines include euphemisms for Joey's penis, impotence jokes, and Ross's depression on the anniversary date of his first sex with his lesbian ex-wife. ..." Similarly, an episode of Roseanne is said to include "more than 20 homosexual jokes and innuendos -- at least one per minute." One of the many things that descriptions like these miss is what situation comedies are actually about. Of course, they are frequently about sex. But they derive much of their
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POPULAR CULTURE IS MORE MORAL THAN IT IS GIVEN CREDIT FOR -...

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