Youth-Violence Causes Are Not in Hollywood, Entertainers Say

By Richardson, Valerie | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 17, 2000 | Go to article overview

Youth-Violence Causes Are Not in Hollywood, Entertainers Say


Richardson, Valerie, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Hollywood is usually on the receiving end when it comes to lectures on the rise of violence in American culture, but yesterday Hollywood lectured back.

During a forum, "Youth Violence in America," sponsored by the Creative Coalition, a panel of entertainment figures blamed everyone but themselves for the recent rash of violent teen-age crime: graphic TV news, the free market, lack of parental involvement, overuse of anti-depressant prescription drugs and even a lack of art classes.

"The industry will give people what they want. As long as there's an appetite, the industry will feed it," said film director Sydney Pollack, who shared the panel with panelists ranging from former Education Secretary William Bennett to actress Juliette Lewis.

Whether Hollywood helps create that appetite is another question. Mr. Bennett said a constant stream of antisocial music, TV shows and movies will ultimately coarsen some children, while a few will try to imitate the violence they see in the media.

But talk-show host Montell Williams argued that TV news is more harmful to children, pointing to the graphic coverage of the Gulf war and the Rodney King beating.

"Those were considered justifiable violence, and we can show justifiable violence," said Mr. Williams. "But [not] make-believe violence."

He also chided parents for failing to watch television with their children to monitor the level of violence.

"We need P-chips planted in the back of parents' heads, making them reassume their responsibility over the home," he said.

Miss Lewis said many of the teen-agers who commit shocking violent acts are taking anti-depressant medication, a link that needs more study. She also advocated more art classes in schools. …

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