Jewish World Review August 23, 2002/ 15 Elul, 5762

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Consumer Reports

Hollywood Joe's admission | So rare is the phenomenon of Hollywood types getting religion that one is hesitant to derogate on those rare occasions when admissions and reform haunt the Beverly Hills fast-laners. We're still waiting for Robert Downey, Jr. to wake up, preferably in his own bed as opposed to those of his Malibu neighbors, and realize drugs aren't a career advancer. Winona Ryder could be wearing a shoplifted Versace one day and find that confession is good for the soul whereas Saks' stealing raps don't land parts or Oscars.

If a pig flies, you don't fault it for not staying up long. Joe Eszterhas, author of such moving materials as Flashdance, Sliver, Show Girls, and Basic Instinct, has found religion. He has repented of glorifying smoking in his screenplays because he has lost most of his larynx to cancer caused by a lifetime of smoking. Joe wrote a piece for the New York Times' op-ed page on August 9 revealing his painful battles with cancer and guilt because in his 14 movies, "My characters smoke, . . . and they look cool and glamorous doing it." He reveals that he "made a deal with God." "Spare me," Joe wrote, " and I will try to stop others from committing the same crimes I did." I wonder what Michael Ovitz got as his agent on this deal.

Mr. Eszterhas has always looked so crusty; a combination of Granny Clampett and Ted Kennedy, that I assumed he already had cancer of everything. I wish him and his family strength in their ongoing battle, but his born-again activities are a bit shallow in their focus and a tad hypocritical.

Mr. Eszterhas's films feature strippers, prostitution, murder, sadomasochism, Michael Douglas's behind and most of Sharon Stone and this man makes a deal with God over tar and nicotine?

In 2000 Eszterhas wrote several articles for Salon condemning Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Mr. Gore's running mate, for what he characterized as Lieberman's dangerous censorship attitude and frightening invocation of religion and the Ten Commandments. In one piece Joe wrote, "There was even a quote from Sen. Lieberman in the newspapers that said, 'Hollywood doesn't understand piety.' Piety? What was there to understand? Piety didn't sell, period, unless you dressed it as "E.T." No one was talking about remaking "The Ten Commandments." All the Tibet movies failed . . . The last pious movie that blockbustered was "The Exorcist," and that was helped by the pea soup."

Lieberman's condemnation of violence and explicit sex in Hollywood films prompted Eszterhas to write, "I say no more money for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman until Joe Lieberman "clarifies" his views about Hollywood. No more money until we are satisfied that the Gore-Lieberman ticket won't mean the curtailment of our creative freedoms." He went on to add, "Why should we in Hollywood vote or donate money to a man who threatens our creative freedom, our freedom of expression? Now we're going to finance Lieberman, a man who wants to tell us what to put up on screen? As the conservative writer (and Salon columnist) David Horowitz said recently, 'If Lieberman were a Republican, there would be a devastating attack against him for being a religious conservative, for trying to impose his morality on us, for being a censor.'"

Joe resented comments on film content and influence until his recent illness led him to conclude that Hollywood is "the advertising agency and sales force for an industry that kills nearly 10,000 people daily."

Joe, I can't tell you how happy I am to hear you admit that Hollywood influences conduct, which brings me back to the content of your films. Do you see children scooped from their beds at night for singular sexual use, followed by their savage murders? As you recover, watch the news reports on 5-year-old girls abducted from their lawns, their corpses found discarded in the desert, with their young lives' last moments spent as victims of perverse sexual predators.

Joe, face the reality that if Hollywood influences the use of Marlboro's, it surely must take responsibility for sexual perversions brought about by movies such as yours. Remember how you spoke out during the Clinton/Monica years, concerned about the atmosphere the president was creating for your young children? Your book American Rhapsody was a big seller among conservatives because it reflected your outrage over Mr. Clinton's tawdry sexual liaisons permeating society. Movies also influence, whether through chain-smoking characters or those with chains and little clothing.

Joe, you suggest self-control, a self-imposed censorship for Hollywood. Great angle, but try a wider lens on your camera, one that lets you see past the cigarettes to all the harm films can do, including pervasive and perverse sexual suggestion, the kind for which your films are infamous. Try a deal with Heaven in this realm.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.


08/15/02: Cheapskates
08/08/02: Ode to a coal miner
08/02/02: Sarah Brady's gun gift
07/26/02: Don't do it, Tiger
07/18/02: Reality Muppets
07/09/02: We're all going to die, live with it
07/02/02: From the eye of the storm
06/27/02: Nick not right
06/20/02: Behind the music
06/14/02: The sum of all fears in vouchers
06/06/02: Where was Agent Rowley when the FBI needed her?
05/30/02: Of big hair and sanity
05/24/02: Should I embrace liberalism?
05/20/02: Some passion about Israel
05/09/02: A mother who cares enough
05/02/02: Go ahead, pass judgment
04/29/02: The irritation of the modern wedding
04/18/02: Claire's life
04/15/02: Harvard takes off its pants one leg at a time
04/09/02: The Clinton legacy: Politics of personal destruction
03/31/02: Oscars' subtle bigotry was embarrassing
03/22/02: Blame Oprah, Rosie, Sally, Ted, David
03/14/02: The costs of women's feeble choices
03/08/02: Botoxic faces
02/28/02: The dangers of organized philanthropy
02/25/02: Don't take the gold
02/14/02: Ease up on the brothers and sisters
02/11/02: Because I was courted
02/05/02: Fat fault
01/24/02: Tolerance does not mean stupidity
01/17/02: Too old too soon
01/10/02: Ethically challenged firms
01/03/02: The year that was
12/27/01: The Twelve Days of inconsistency
12/20/01: Free Speech and the political spectrum
12/13/01: Curbing brats
12/06/01: Power to influence
11/29/01: The disappearing art of grading
11/21/01: The Big Two-Five
11/13/01: You can never find a lib when you need one
11/01/01: Unlucky in sports
10/26/01: An epidemic of counselitis
10/16/01: A touch of class
10/12/01: Of human nature and monsters
10/05/01: Sensitive man
10/01/01: Post-September 11 security
09/20/01: No tinhorn terrorists can frighten us
09/06/01: If there is no honor in youth sports, it is because of the adults
08/27/01: The draw of Condit
08/23/01: Lowering expectations and flying high
08/17/01: Thoreau, Walden and stems cells
08/13/01: Our masters: The animals
07/30/01: When principle hits too close to home
07/13/01: Rage born of sublimation
07/06/01: Patient's rights and the Valley of Death
06/29/01: There is no excuse
06/21/01: I want an eternal soulmate, but the marriage thing is another issue
06/14/01: Which way maverick McCain? An Arizonan's perspective
06/07/01: No stroke of genius
05/30/01: The lesson of the Mr. Green Jeans senator: 'Moderate' is a classy term for wishy-washy
05/25/01: Baseball has not been so good to me
05/18/01: Clothes make the woman
05/11/01: Selective precaution
05/04/01: Grades: Equality of students, by students, for the students
04/27/01: The Horowitz revelations as seen by a college professor
04/20/01: First, let's kill all the tests
04/13/01: The continuing mistake of underpricing electricity
04/06/01: That pill, Julia Roberts
03/29/01: If it weren't for the parents, we might accomplish something
03/23/01: The melt down of the academy
03/15/01: Columbine redux: Moral infants
03/09/01: The lessons of Tom and Nicole
03/01/01: Pardon the temporary outrage
02/23/01: In defense of homework
02/20/01: A Message for faith-based organizations: Don't take the money, just run
02/06/01: Enough already with the Clintoons
01/26/01: The challenge to be better than we have been
01/19/01: Where have you gone Frieda Pushnik?
12/29/00: The year that was
12/23/00: Litigation: It's the American way
12/15/00: In defense of rhetoric
12/06/00: The company we keep: Lawyers and elections
12/01/00: Liberals' art of trashing of women
11/20/00: Put me out of my misery
11/17/00: On being a statesman
11/13/00: When it's broke, fixing it wouldn't offend the Framers
11/08/00: ELECTION 2000: I SURRENDER
10/27/00: Al in the package? Memo to women: Choosing presidents and husbands
10/20/00: Ten things the gay community should understand
10/13/00: "You Have a Lump."
10/06/00: The government as the pharmacy: Don't
09/29/00: The capacity for truth
09/22/00: Charity with strings and an agenda
09/15/00: The taming of the shrew: Gloria Steinem takes a husband
09/09/00: Why rich folk don't bother me none
08/28/00: Survival of the not-so-fit but conniving
08/25/00: Conventions: A study in contrasts
08/18/00: Resenting the accusations of racial prejudice
08/04/00: Women: Their own worst enemy
07/21/00: Hillary: Our longshoreman First Lady
07/21/00: SUVs: The root of all evil
07/14/00: The basketball gene and white men not jumping so well
07/07/00: I wanna be around
06/23/00: The liberal conversion
06/14/00: Sex and the City: The shallow but vulgar female
06/08/00: No excuses schools
06/02/00: Oh, Canada: Our Nutty Neighbors to the North
05/23/00: The new mollycoddling coach
05/16/00: On adultery and leadership
05/12/00: Taking your lumps
05/02/00: Elian: There's never a liberal around when you need one
04/25/00: Life's circle and tenderness
04/18/00: Womyn who want it both ways
04/11/00: The monsters we're raising with the ergo proposition
04/05/00: Endowing the Hooters Chair for Literature Appreciation
03/28/00: Dr. Laura: The passive/aggressive kid's mom
03/21/00: Dough and campaigns
03/14/00: The volunteerism of conscription and pomp
03/07/00: Hope and pray that religion remains a force in politics
02/29/00: Ditzes in TV Land
02/22/00: Cranky nitpickers make writing a [sic] experience
02/15/00: Those chameleon 60s activists
02/08/00: McCandidate McCain: Flirting with principles
02/01/00: The demise of marriage
01/25/00: Stroke of the pen, law of the land: Clinton's Camelot
01/18/00: Off the Rocker Rorschach Test
01/11/00: Oprah's lemmings
01/04/00: Struggling mightily amidst the comfort
12/23/99: Confused fathers
12/14/99: Drop-kicking the homeless
12/07/99: Turtles and teamsters, side-by-side in Seattle
11/29/99: When conservatives behave badly
11/22/99: Compassionate conservative: Timing and targets
11/18/99: The elusive human spirit and accountability
11/11/99: Succumbing to the intellectual child within with the help of crackpots and screwballs
10/28/99: Live by litigation, die by litigation
10/22/99: Jesse, Warren, Cybill, Donald and Oprah
10/14/99: Inequality and injustice: It's the big one
10/05/99: Dan Quayle, morals and schoolyard bullies
09/30/99: The monsters of epidermal parenting
09/21/99: The Diversity Hoax
09/15/99: Waco Wackos
09/09/99: Selective censorship
09/01/99: The village, the children, judicial imperialism and abortion
08/24/99: Naughty Newt?
08/17/99: In defense of Boy Scouts and judgment
08/10/99: Ruining the finest health care system in the world
08/03/99: Nihilism and politics: ethics on the lam
07/26/99: Of women, soccer and removed jerseys
07/23/99: Not in despair, a mere mortal doing just fine
07/20/99: "Why me?" How about "Why us?"
07/13/99: Bunk, junk & juries
07/06/99: An Amish woman in a Victoria's Secret store
06/30/99: That intellectually embarrassing Second Amendment
06/24/99: Patricia Ireland eat your heart out --- but check out the recipe in 'women's mags' first
06/22/99: Dems and the Creator coup
06/17/99: True courage is more than just admitting troubles

© 2002, Marianne M. Jennings