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Danny Goldberg and C. DeLores Tucker: Hollywood vs. Washington
(CNN) The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report September 11 charging that the entertainment industry deliberately markets violent movies, music and video games to children under 17, even when the products have been labeled as appropriate for adults only. The FCC did not propose new legislation but urged the industry to increase voluntary enforcement. President Clinton ordered the study after the Columbine High School massacre, stating that exposure to violence in the media results in increased violence in our society.
Danny Goldberg is chairman and CEO of Artemis Records. C. DeLores Tucker is national chair and founder of the National Political Congress of Black Women.
Editors: The contents may be offensive to some readers.
Chat Moderator: Welcome to the Crossfire chat room, Danny Goldberg.
Danny Goldberg: Hi!
Chat Moderator: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just released a report today saying that the entertainment industry intentionally targets young children when marketing movies, music and video games intended for people aged 17 or older. Mr. Goldberg, how do you respond to that finding?
Danny Goldberg: I'm in the music business and we've never said the age our entertainment is intended for; the "17 and older" is a movie business term. We put advisory stickers on records that have lots of four letter and other so-called dirty words on them. That doesn't necessarily mean they're not appropriate for younger teenagers, but out of respect to retailers and parents, we inform them of this. Every family has different rules about profanity, and there's no universal standard for words for books or lyrics that could apply to all American families.
Question from Tonyd: Hi. Why would one not find these violent lyrics at least as offensive as pornographic magazines that are regulated?
Danny Goldberg: I don't really know how to define "violent lyrics." There are descriptions of killing in fairy tales and all sorts of other art and entertainment. The only criteria that anyone has ever been able to come up with for words are to inform parents and retailers if there are dirty words in lyrics. It's then up to parents as to what rules they want to have about such things, not the government, because different people in society have different opinions about such things.
Question from Herman: Mr. Goldberg, would you let them play this music in your temple?
Danny Goldberg: I think that I can't imagine a church or temple that would allow popular music concerned with sex or violence to be played in that setting. But that's the authority of each church or temple, not authority that derives from government.
Question from Topnotch: And why is all the aim at rap/black music when rock concerts have more violence and injuries occurring?
Danny Goldberg: I agree that rock and roll certainly has as much misogyny and sexual content as rap does, but rap is more popular right now and that's probably why it's attracting more criticism.
Chat Moderator: Welcome to the Crossfire chat room, Ms. Tucker.
C. DeLores Tucker: I want to say hello to all the good friends of CNN and the chat room family.
Chat Moderator: Ms. Tucker, The Federal Trade Commission just released a report today saying that the entertainment industry intentionally targets young children when marketing movies, music and video games intended for people aged 17 or older. Does this finding surprise you?
C. DeLores Tucker: No, it did not, because from 1993 to the present, we have called upon the industry to regulate itself. We've had congressional and Senate hearings, we have protested and have gone to stockholder meetings, but lyrics are as bad as they've ever been. They have not ceased; they've just gotten worse.
Chat Moderator: Ms. Tucker, do you have any specific examples of what you are saying?
C. DeLores Tucker: I do. This is one of the songs our children know by Scarface: "She was sucking ---- up and down with a smooth stroke, taking nine inches of ---- like a deep root. The other b---- was involved in masturbating, now I'm ejaculating." Another is Snoop Doggy Dog: "We travel in packs and we do it from the back, how else can you get to the booty? We do it doggy-style all the while; we do it doggy-style. He f----- the fleas off the b----, she shakes the ticks off his ----, and in her booty he buries his m-----f----- bone."
Comment from Whippet: Danny, I am disappointed that you don't see the plethora of media violence as a societal problem that you are benefiting from.
Danny Goldberg: I think real violence is a terrible problem, but I don't think fantasy violence is. I don't see evidence in countries outside the United States, such as Canada or Japan, where they have exactly the same media and entertainment we're exposed to. They have a tiny fraction of the violent crime we have.
So I don't believe that gangster movies or horror movies or westerns caused violent behavior in the 40s and 50s. I don't believe modern entertainment causes violence, although I'm personally offended by some of it. I'm grateful to live in a country where we can have this kind of debate.
Danny Goldberg: I respect the sincerity of C. DeLores Tucker's argument, although I disagree with her.
Chat Moderator: Mr. Goldberg must leave us.
C. DeLores Tucker: I represent African American women in this country, their families and the community. And we have an epidemic going on, what I call the "3-P Plague" -- prison, parole and probation. Over 60 percent of our young males 15 to 24 are under court jurisdiction and they all -- from letters that I have received -- have become worshippers of gangster/porno music.
They've stated they're there because they've listened to the music. The stars have the glamour and they, too, wanted to be somebody and act and perform as their role models perform. If the music promotes drugs, they do drugs; if it promotes rape, they do rape; if it promotes drugs and violence and calling women "hos" and "bes," they do it.
In the Jonesboro case, I talked to the teacher and she came to Senate hearings. She said she had a class after it happened and she asked them if they could tell her how it happened and what did they know about these young men? They were told they worshipped these rappers.
Every one of these incidents -- we have done a study on it -- all of them worshipped one of these gangster rappers, porno rappers or the shock rappers, such as Marilyn Manson. So, it does profoundly affect the children, and African American women particularly, being referred to as "hos" and "bes" and "n-----s." That's stereotypically negative about us.
Michael Fuchs at Time Warner was telling us this music is OK. So I asked him to read lyrics which I marked off for him, and he wouldn't read it. When he was no longer there, he gave an interview to Billboard Magazine. He said, "I'm quite surprised with the level of misogyny in a lot of the music and that women have not been more active. When Michael Jackson had a song with lyrics that people intimated or suspected were a slight on Jews, Jewish organizations jumped right up on the table. Maybe women feel, my God, it's coming on every song. It's all over. That was most surprising to me."
Question from Why: But why is that rap's fault?
C. DeLores Tucker: Because youth will listen to music; they carry this music; they watch video games; and it's marketed to them. They make the music and message sound fashionable, and its made so the lyrics tell kids it's cool to act this way. They know these are all young rappers, so who's more interested but youth? They emulate what they hear and see.
Question from Topnotch: So are you saying the entertainment industry is responsible for the prison population?
C. DeLores Tucker: It certainly plays a major role for 15- to 24-year-olds, because they're under this court jurisdiction of prison, parole or probation. All the medical psychiatric studies have proven that hearing it over and over -- the power music has on children -- there's no doubt about it. My 3-year-old niece is going around singing, "I'm a queen b----."
Question from Tumtumgivenchy: How do we balance the interests of parents who wish to shield their children from aspects of the entertainment industry -- which may or may not correlate to undesirable behavior among children -- and the rights of artists?
C. DeLores Tucker: The artists have a right, but they don't have a right to stereotypically record music or do anything objectionable to any group. I was happy that he made that statement after the Little Kim record, that they will no longer distribute objectionable music. There should be nothing ethically wrong or negative about any group.
This music has been proven injurious by psychiatric studies, so there's nothing that can be done but ask the industry to regulate itself. If not, like with cigarettes, we'll have to have government regulation. American people say they feel they're fighting the culture to save their children.
Comment from When: You cannot silence art; it is an expression of our real lives. If you want art to reflect a better world, a better world has to exist first.
C. DeLores Tucker: I agree with that! I agree with that for adults, but we're talking about children. Adults have a right to do what they want, but let a child grow up with the better values of life. As Whitney Houston sings, "The children of the future, lead them well, so they can lead the way." We're teaching what will lead to destruction.
And this from Billboard, December 25: "In each case, each conduct is an antisocial exercise in self-delusion, and each leads to the death of conscience, the corruption of the spirit and, ultimately, the destruction of the individual and community." He then said they would not have any advertisement in his magazine dealing with the promotion of drugs, guns and violence.
Question from Christopher: Mrs. Tucker, what do you think this issue will do for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman in the presidential race, since he has consistently come out against the entertainment industry?
C. DeLores Tucker: I think because they have taken the position that Americans are sick and tired of trying to keep their children from these messages -- they see their children using these words and acting like these rappers and artists because they are taking an issue that concerns the large majority of Americans, it assures their victory in all fifty states if they stick to this position.
American parents are concerned about it and want it stopped. They're fighting a cultural war against Hollywood and the entertainment industry in the three areas that the FTC report identified: movies, videos and music.
Chat Moderator: Many of our audience members are saying that parents are looking for an excuse for their poor parenting skills. Do you think parents are involved enough in what their children are watching and listening to?
C. DeLores Tucker: Let me say this: Parents are doing the best job they can, but they cannot fully travel with their children. Most parents work; the percentage of single-parent homes is large. And you have some children who've said to me, "The gang is our family, and the street is our home." That was in 1977, when I was trying to register them to vote. It's worse now.
Everyone talks about the home, but in many communities, especially the African American community, most families do not have a daddy and a home. Sometimes the mother is working or they are in prison. Many were children when they had children, so they don't know how to raise a child. The latchkey children have five or six hours when no one is home to watch them. They are in an atmosphere where it's cool to "f" their teachers; it's not cool to be smart.
Chat Moderator: Do you have any final thoughts for us, Ms. Tucker?
C. DeLores Tucker: I would like people to begin to write the industry, contact the chairman of the board and board members and let them know how you feel. We went to see Mr. Seagram at Universal and Innerscope. We talked to him about this problem. Marilyn Manson was cited to Mr. Bronfman, and they stopped it, stopped Manson. You don't see Michael Jackson, because the Jewish leaders complained to Sony.
We need to complain when music is objectionable, regardless of race, creed or ethnic positions. I think after we got Time Warner to get rid of Innerscope's Snoop Doggy Dog and Death Row, they've now decided to use a white young man named Eminem. The whole time he came out -- I saw him on MTV he was grabbing his crotch. Little boys will all be doing this. He gave them their own hero.
This can be stopped if we write the four companies: Sony, EMI, Universal and BMG. Those four persons who head those companies can stop it, and we need to do that. I'm happy to say that when we approached Time Warner, they stated they had changed their policy after my statement, and they will no longer distribute or produce music that is offensive to anyone.
Chat Moderator: Thank you for joining us today, C. DeLores Tucker.
CNN provided a typist for C. DeLores Tucker and Danny Goldberg. The above is an edited transcript of the Crossfires Chat, which took place on Monday, September 11, 2000.
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Feds: Violent entertainment intentionally aimed at young
Federal Trade Commission
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