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COUNTERPUNCH

Where Money--Not Art--Is the Issue

August 21, 1995|JANE MORRIS | Jane Morris, a 10-year veteran of Chicago's Second City, is co-owner and director of Santa Monica's UpFront Comedy. She has appeared in numerous movies and television shows. and

I read with interest "Dole's Attacks Fail to Curb Hollywood on Sex, Violence" (A Section, July 30). I think I have a point of view on the subject that no one has thought of--or at least had the nerve to talk about. I am a working actress. I have appeared in lots of films. I am primarily a comedian. I am not politically correct.

Of course no one in the artistic community, and I hope no thinking person, wants to even think about censorship. Of course, no one is stupid enough to think that the arts do not influence society. Arts indeed set the standards of culture--that is part and parcel of the purpose of art, to reflect, to question, to illuminate the human condition.

What no one has brought into the mix of this debate is that we are very often not dealing with artists when we talk about the people who make movies. We are talking about people who have found a way to make big piles of money. They've never been asked to question what they do because they are doing what red-blooded Americans are supposed to do--find something that makes a big pile of money and then keep finding "better" ways to do it. If loud noise and blood works, then the sequel screams for louder noise and more blood. Makes perfect sense to me.

We are not dealing with Einstein here. Yes, there are many upstanding citizens in the Hollywood community. Some geniuses. Many artists. I've worked with them. But there are also a bunch of dim bulbs. Their humor is impoverished. They are sophomoric and sexist. Being none too bright and making a lot of money allows them to imagine that they are the creme de la creme. Which means everyone else must be even dumber than they are. So they write to an ever-lower common denominator.

Let me give you an example of what you're dealing with here:

Last year, working on the set of "Bushwacked," I listened with dread as the director and producers howled over a scene where Daniel Stern explains the facts of life to the scouts using Barbie dolls. I was thinking how unpleasant it would be to take my 8-year-old to a movie that is advertised for kids-- that his mom is in --and suddenly have to watch that scene with him.

*

Let me interject that my children are growing up here on the sets of movies. They've seen all kinds of stuff. Their favorite movies are "The Mask," "Alien," "2010" and "The Elephant Man." They are not easily shocked or upset. They have great senses of humor.

Jump ahead to the cast and crew screening. There are lots of sophomoric jokes in the movie of varying degrees of not-so-great taste. And then--there it was--the scouts have a Playboy magazine and the Barbie doll scene begins. I could feel the 8-year-old starting to squirm. I wanted to sink in my seat. I guess I had hoped that, seeing the scene cut into the movie, the producers would have the good taste to take it out. What was I thinking? Besides being infantile, the scene is also depressingly sexist. I suppose the PG-13 rating is supposed to solve this. It's OK to have dopey sexist humor if you're 13. My kids, by the way, hated the movie, and I'm glad.

Sadly, this could have been a good movie for kids. Its overall point of view is uplifting--the redemption of a loser into a good male role model--not bad, eh? Possibly even timely.

You're really going to be up against it when you suggest that the product that makes these people all this money is bad. You can't get the auto industry to make a non-polluting car, you can't get the tobacco industry to stop making cigarettes and you're not going to get these guys to stop doing the thing that makes them money, either. You can't ask them to make a better product because they're not smart enough.

They are products of our educational system. Maybe Sen. Robert Dole better stick his nose in over there.

In the article, Oliver Stone mentions Dole in the same breath with Joseph McCarthy. Ironically, I had to think long and hard about signing my name to this article for fear of the Hollywood community's blacklist. I might never work again.

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