Magazine article Insight on the News

'Moral' Entertainers Clean Up Their Acts

Magazine article Insight on the News

'Moral' Entertainers Clean Up Their Acts

Article excerpt

Cultural conservatives unite: You have nothing to lose but your despair. Your message is getting through. Walmart, the nation's largest retailer, now refuses to sell compact discs with lyrics and jacket art that is vile and violent.

While certain "creative artists" cry censorship, this is nonsense. The government has nothing to do with it. This is free enterprise at work. Or quality control, in the words of William Bennett and C. DeLores Tucker, who are campaigning to make certain music corporations clean up their acts.

But money speaks even louder than words. Arkansas-based Walmart, a chain that moves 52 million of the 615 million compact discs sold yearly in this country, has clout.

Bob Dole lost the presidential election. However, his attack on Hollywood for deadening our instinct for outrage by making movies that are mind-numbing with their graphic and gratuitous sex and violence has had an impact.

Movie investors are discovering that they don't have to sensationalize sex and violence to appeal to the public. Several movies released during the holiday season are testaments to a fresh moral vision.

The English Patient, for example, has its share of sexuality and eroticism, but it explores the universal human themes of virtue and passion, guilt and sin, lust and love with sensitivity, artistry and imagination. Its central focus is an adulterous affair that encapsulates the magnitude of such behavior, the hurt and the pain inflicted on all those who are connected to each other through love and marriage.

The late Alan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind, worried that college students no longer understand the moral underpinnings of eros. The sexual revolution that trivialized sex for teenagers and young adults also reduced intellectual sensibilities to shallow observations. Students, lamented Bloom, no longer could comprehend the suffering or fathom the depth of longing represented by Madam Bovary or Anna Karenina. If these characters were modern heroines, they'd simply seek help through divorce and custody courts.

The English Patient brings a postmodern penetrating vision to this tantalizing theme. Even Barbra Streisand seems to be sick of the glibness of the sexual revolution as depicted in movies. In The Mirror Has Two Faces, in which she stars and directs, she creates a funny plot mocking casual sex. …

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