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HOLLYWOOD VS. AMERICA by Michael Medved

HOLLYWOOD VS. AMERICA

Popular Culture and The War on Traditional Values

By Michael Medved

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1992
ISBN: 0-06-016882-X
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Buried within this overly long, poorly written study of popular culture is an important notion: that TV, movies, and pop music deserve attention for their adverse effects on the moral and cultural life of our time. But Medved (cohost of TV's Sneak Previews; Hospital, 1982, etc.) so often panders to the so-called ``traditional values'' of right-wing Christian fundamentalists that his many genuine insights get lost in all the moral posturing. With a dizzying compulsion for alliterative prose, Medved argues that Hollywood (which here means the entertainment industry, not just film) has, in our time, displayed ``a powerful (and puzzling) preference for the perverse.'' He rightly discerns an antireligious, antifamily, and anti-American bias in a disproportionate amount of the pop culture we consume. He persuasively argues that TV and movie violence can lead to violent behavior among young people. But Medved's prissy attacks on ``bad language'' and ``ugliness'' obscure his more serious intentions. His simple-minded sense of morality leads to all kinds of interpretive misreadings. Incapable of sustained critical analysis, he misinterprets movies such as The Black Robe and The Silence of the Lambs, and he's positively obsessed with The Last Temptation of Christ, blindly accepting the fundamentalist view of the film. Lifeless plot summaries of other films are listed rather than shaped into an argument, and his browbeating prose fails to disguise his tautological reasoning. Never once does he bother to define exactly what a ``wholesome'' and ``conservative'' culture would be, though there is the suggestion that we need movies about Mother Teresa. The author wants to join the new Jeremiahs of ``the culture wars,'' but his Rotarian view of America is closer to Jerry Falwell than Allan Bloom. Medved's tortured syntax and his movie-blurb vocabulary support his notion that too much TV and film watching leads to a decline in literacy.