Advocacy Groups and the Entertainment Industry

By Michael Suman; Gabriel Rossman | Go to book overview

4
A Catholic Look at the Entertainment Industry

William A. Donohue

Beginning with the black civil rights movement, the 1960s and 1970s gave birth to many quests for equality. A politics of confrontation was quickly established that, along with a skepticism turned to cynicism, soon found its way into the dominant culture. Among reporters, this blend of politics and cynicism took expression in advocacy journalism. Among minorities, this stew overheated into exorbitant claims against private and public institutions. The attempt at redress of grievances, real and imagined, had become a full-court press.

Those involved in the civil rights movement of this period, especially African Americans and feminists, sought not only legal redress, but also to fundamentally alter the prevailing stereotypes of blacks and women. To do this they focused attention on the cultural images that the media, and Hollywood in particular, developed about them. This confrontational approach was soon mimicked by Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, gays, and others.

The extent to which prejudicial attitudes are a function of media portrayals is debatable. More debatable is the effect that such attitudes have on promoting discrimination. What is not debatable is that this media portrayal-prejudice-discrimination link was, and still is, seen as valid by millions of Americans. It was from this social soil that an advocacy industry was founded to challenge the entertainment industry.

Entering very late into this advocacy circle are Catholics. Over the past generation, ethnicity has triumphed over religion as the master status for most Catholics. That explains why Hispanics, to take one example, have organized to change perceptions of their ethnic group, but not perceptions of their religion. It may be that, as Nathan Glazer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan have argued, ethnicity provides a bond of affection that other sources of identity cannot generate.1

There is another reason why Catholics have been slow to engage in the advocacy struggle. Perhaps owing to the sociological effects of the very hierarchical institution to which they are loyal, Catholics still tend to look to the

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