Bad Fox, Worse Mouse
by L. Brent Bozell III
Until recently, the Time Warner conglomerate was the
undisputed champ of corporate irresponsibility in the entertainment industry.
A corporation earns that title mostly by routinely marketing what's just plain
destructive for the public good, especially if the product is targeted to
impressionable youngsters. It is the deliberate attempt to reach for what's
certain to offend; to challenge decency; to insult. It is the desire to cater
to that nihilistic market that will always be there and will never be
satisfied no matter how many barriers are torn down.
In the early 1990s, Time Warner was the home of such
sociopathic rap "artists" as Tupac Shakur, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and
Ice-T, each of whom advocated the murder of police officers. Add the
non-violent but salacious Madonna and you had quite an unsavory stew. Now,
Tupac is late and unlamented (at least by me), Snoop and Ice are past their
prime, and Madonna has been otherwise engaged. In short, Time Warner is less
obnoxious than it used to be.
Interestingly, its television subsidiary, the new WB
network, is moving in the opposite direction, with programming aimed at the
family market. On this front, it is juxtaposed by the giant News Corporation
and its Fox television network, which continues to resist any temptation
toward social responsibility.
At a time when television increasingly caters to the family
audience with wholesome series like WB's 7th Heaven and CBS's "Promised
Land," Fox has no family oriented programs whatsoever, already broadcasts
such racy fare as "Melrose Place" and "Martin" at 8 o'
clock, and now has announced it is moving the long-running celebration of
gutter humor, "Married...With Children," into the 7 p.m. Sunday time
slot, effective this month [note to editors: November]. The Bundys at
dinnertime? That's the worst thing for digestion since Olestra. The shift is
"a giant step backward," in the apt words of Rep. Lamar Smith
(R-Tex.), who in the last Congressional session co-sponsored a resolution
calling on the networks to air only family-friendly offerings in early prime
Amazingly, Fox is championing "Married?" as family-friendly.
Referring to the schedule change, the network's entertainment boss, Peter
Roth, asserted that "there's no reason to suggest or believe that we're
doing anything that's offensive." (That's pretty much what the Clinton
administration had to say about the 900 FBI files, too.)
Today there is a new titleholder for Most Irresponsible
Entertainment Corporation: Disney. In the past two years or so, it has
released the viciously anti-Catholic movies "Priest" and "The
Prophecy." Disney's Touchstone Television produces, and Disney's ABC
network airs, "Ellen," whose title character apparently will
proclaim her homosexuality later this season - another first, if that's what
you want to call it. The Disney World theme park hosts an annual gay and
lesbian day; in 1994 the event was held without warning the thousands of
families who came to the park that day.
These and numerous other actions have gained Disney a
reputation for moral envelope-pushing. In late October, the company
demonstrated that it is perfectly capable of political and intellectual
outrage as well. The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reported that Disney was
negotiating for the film rights to "Dark Alliance," an August series
of articles by Gary Webb published in the San Jose Mercury News.
As with most conspiracy theories, there's a morsel of truth.
Yes, two Nicaraguan exiles were involved with drug dealing in the black
neighborhoods of Los Angeles during the 1980s, and yes, they may have funneled
some of their profits to the anti-communist contra forces in their homeland.
What is also true, and ignored: the Nicaraguan resistance played no role in
this rogue operation. The two exiles were drug addicts who squandered
virtually all of their profits on themselves.
Moreover, Webb's crucial allegation -- that this drug
dealing was backed by the CIA -- is wholly unsubstantiated. Several years ago,
more than one journalist and a Senate subcommittee investigated similar claims
and found nothing to support them. The whole stupid story should be Trivial
Pursuit fodder, yet it's back again, and Disney is helping to breathe life
Webb charges specifically that the crack cocaine epidemic in
America's ghettos resulted from this nefarious CIA activity. Again, he
provides no evidence, but never mind: it's a good plot. Presumably, blacks
would be the target audience for the cinematic version of "Dark
Alliance"; ironically, by releasing such a despicably misleading movie
Disney would, in a sense, be distributing more poison to blacks than the CIA
One more news item. The Los Angeles Times reported on
October 18 that Hollywood Records, a Disney label, has signed the heavy metal
act Danzig, whose work, the Times said, is "laced with satanic
themes." Danzig's previous label: American Recordings, part of the Time
Warner empire. Yet another sign that the torch of corporate irresponsibility
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