Cinema fireworks Movie violence: Hollywood's response this summer to 'family values': boom, boom, boom.

July 06, 1996

REMEMBER BOB DOLE'S criticism of Hollywood last year for glamorizing violence and sex? His speech got a huge reaction, unlike anything the senator from Kansas had experienced to that point, according to Bob Woodward's book on the presidential campaign.

Hollywood obviously sat up and took notice because its offerings this summer include:

An Arnold Schwarzenegger movie in which a lot of people get blown up.

A Tom Cruise movie in which a lot of people get blown up.

A Nicholas Cage-Sean Connery movie in which a lot of people get blown up.

A science-fiction thriller about people and aliens getting blown up.

And, for a change of pace, there's a movie featuring Jim Carrey, that $20 million bastion of culture and taste, as a manic stalker.

You want a benchmark on values? Consider that this season's light fare is Demi Moore doing the bump-and-grind in the altogether. As for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," it's more outstanding animation from Disney, but don't ask a child afterward to explain why the movie's main nemesis lusts wildly for the curvaceous form of a cartoonized version of Ms. Moore.

With pictures in development for years, filmmakers, of course, haven't had much time to react to last year's "family values" debate. And with their pyrotechnic creations pulling in $20 million or more on a weekend, they're not apt to change quickly. (They might even argue, straight-faced, that they're responding to Mr. Dole, who included a Schwarzenegger film on his list of wholesome fare.)

It doesn't take a Victorian prude, however, to wonder why Hollywood typically exercises its keen ability to tell a story only in the run-up to Oscar nominations. Summertime brings an occasional "Forrest Gump" or a "Babe." That the exception, though. It's not that this summer's movies aren't riveting or entertaining. But they lionize violence and portray death and destruction as painless. Yet where is the public outrage? Where is the outrage from political leaders like the previously incensed Mr. Dole?

Of course, it would be hard to hear them with all the explosions going off.

Pub Date: 7/06/96

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