By David Anderson, Tillicum
“We all have to remember that we can’t let our love of the games get ahead of the core values, and we know that happens often. This is a painful, painful reminder that awful things can happen when that occurs. Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people.” – Mark Emmert, president of the N.C.A.A., announcing sanctions against Penn State University after the child sexual abuse scandal.
With due respect to Emmert and fellow-officials who let all the air out of Sandusky-Paterno-Spanier-and-
What, as it turns out, drove the football down the Nittany Lion’s field, keeps scantily clad celebrities on stage, motivates politicians to promote gambling and besmirches the movie industry is a lowest – very low – common denominator: principle can be sacrificed as long as popularity and profitability can be maintained.
The message of the misery accompanying so many such values-and-decency-trashing examples is hardly akin to the disappointment felt as the hushed audience follows the flight of the football sailing wide of the uprights in a failed field-goal attempt as the final seconds tick away.
Where the crowd – in what amounts to our nation’s stadium-of-consciousness – needs to focus its attention is not where, or whether, the pigskin flies but rather upon the pigsty where America feeds.
Take Hollywood for example.
The folks responsible for what is shown in theaters have been looking inward a bit lately in light of the darkness that shrouds the nation’s soul following the grief emanating from the evil events and death of so many innocents who were out for a night at the movies in Aurora, Colorado.
And what do you suppose these movie-moguls found in their soul-searching of the silver screen?
Given that the campaigns for hoped-for summer mega-movies are “multimillion-dollar” – let alone the studio production costs themselves – what chance is there that when the smell of extra-buttered-and-salted popcorn fills the room, the lights grow dim and the curtain parts that we’ll see anything different?
While Warner Bros. pulled the promo for Gangster Squad, featuring heavy gunfire in a movie theater, the movie itself is due to be released soon. The trailer may have been detached, but the engine’s still coming.
Meanwhile the extent of the conversation among movie-insiders concerning their responsibility to those outside – upon whose ticket purchases they depend – is only timing.
For example, since “summer is often the most violent of times at the movies, with big blockbusters that feature elaborately choreographed gun fights and explosions,” Ronn Torossian, chief executive of 5W Public Relations, which represents celebrities and films, advises “anybody with a violent movie to push back the release date . . . get out of the summer.”
Another idea is to “open some movies on Wednesday instead of Friday to avoid the fan frenzy that can accompany some highly anticipated movies.”
The depth of depravity to which the theater industry will go however is directly proportional to how deep are the pockets of theater-goers.
“The craft of filmmaking,” said Russell Schwartz, former head of marketing for New Line Cinema and the president of Pandemic Marketing, “is gloomy as hell, but it doesn’t seem to be keeping anybody away.”
From the showers of Penn State to a theater in Colorado, America is looking for culprits.
I’d suggest a mirror.