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Cover Story : At The Center Of The Dole Firestorm

July 30, 1995|Steve Hochman

Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) got plenty of attention when he scolded Hollywood about sex and violence in movies, TV and pop music. But, as The Times reports today (see Page A1), Dole's comments aren't changing the face of show business. Yet. The creative and business powerbrokers will tell you they've always been thoughful about what they produce. Here, then, are some snapshots of life on the front lines:

MADONNA

Singer-actress; partner, Maverick music and film

Other than a few rappers, no pop music figure has been subject to more attacks concerning content and imagery in recent years than Madonna--from her early Boy Toy persona to her use of religious iconography in the 1989 video "Like a Prayer" (which cost her a Pepsi sponsorship) to her explicit 1992 book "Sex."

Looking back, does Madonna, 36, wonder if maybe she's gone a bit too far?

"No," she says, sitting in the Hollywood headquarters of her Maverick music and film company with her manager and partner, Freddy DeMann. "All the reactions to everything I've done have only sort of further pointed out what a narrow-minded society we live in and how people go through life without questioning things."

It's a subject she teasingly addresses in her latest video, "Human Nature," an intentionally silly whips 'n' leather scene built on the mantra-like refrain "Express yourself, don't repress yourself."

"Like I say in my video, I have no regrets, if that's what you're asking," she says.

So anything goes? Not quite.

Says DeMann, 56: "We're certainly aware of what's morally correct and what is not. However, after saying that, what is morally correct to me might not be morally correct to someone else. . . . I happen to be very sensitive to child abuse or anything that is harmful to children."

Adds Madonna: "And Michael Jackson's record wouldn't have been released by us without somebody going over the lyrics. . . . While on the one hand, yes, I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of expression--my God, I've been in the middle of a million wars on that!--I would feel really apprehensive about putting out an artist with lyrics degrading women or racist remarks or, like Freddy said, something I felt somehow was harmful to children."

DeMann, father of two daughters now in their early 20s, says: "Speaking for my children, I wanted them exposed to everything they see in life."

Madonna: "If you give them an enriching environment, they're going to naturally choose things that are good. But so many parents don't want to take the responsibility. They'd rather eradicate all of [the things they don't like] so they don't have to be involved."

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