Medved: Adulterous Movie Themes Out of Sync with Average American Values

by Bill Fancher and Allie Martin

(AgapePress) – Hollywood may be losing its grip and influence on the American people.

This year's Academy Awards, Hollywood's annual tribute to what it considers the best films and performers, were awarded last month. The industry's elegant and elite are usually found at the gala, and adoring fans flock to the event and the television to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars. But this year's awards ceremony scored the lowest ratings in its history — down 7% from last year.

Movie critic Michael Medved says Tinseltown has lost touch with the values of the average man and woman. To demonstrate, he points out the previous four Oscar winners for Best Picture all glorified “following your heart and having an affair.”

“Last year, it was American Beauty — follow your heart into a romantic obsession with a 15-year-old cheerleader who is your daughter's friend,” Medved says. “The year before that, it was Shakespeare In Love, which also placed the playwright in an adulterous affair.”

“The year before that, it was Titanic, in which a young lady dumps her fiance, follows her heart into the arms of a handsome but doomed Leonardo [DeCaprio],” he says. “And the year before that … the best example of them all [was] The English Patient.”

In that movie, a married nurse has a torrid affair with a soldier. Medved says that is not how the majority of Americans act.

Hollywood Not At Fault?

Meanwhile, a new book by a college professor takes a swipe at the premise that the entertainment industry is the cause of moral decline on the screen and in today's culture. The book, entitled Shows About Nothing … Nihilism in Popular Culture from the Exorcist to Seinfeld, says society cannot blame Hollywood for the vulgarity and violence on television and in our culture.

Author Thomas Hibbs says the way we watch television and movies makes us oblivious to evil in our society.

“The view that Hollywood is simply corrupting America is as false as the view that Hollywood is merely passably reflecting [it],” Hibbs says. “After all, Hollywood people want to think of themselves as creative, so they don't like to accept — when they're on the defensive — claims that they're just imitating what's out there.”

According to Hibbs, the viewing habits of Americans have resulted in the moral slide shown on television programming.

“What Hollywood does, even if we don't like the results often … when it's creative is that it takes things that are just beneath the surface of American life and makes them explicit,” he says. “For instance, this fascination with evil, this mocking of all things serious — it seems to me that very often in American life in the late 20th century, we find it difficult as Americans to say what we're about in any rich, hopeful way.”

Hibbs is a professor of philosophy at Boston College, where he teaches a class based on ideas in his new book. He encourages parents to actively view television shows with their children to help reverse the downward moral spiral so prevalent on the major networks.

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage