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Henri Bolinger

An Entertainment Industry Response to FTC Report on Violence in Movies & TV Shows
By Brian Dyak
President and CEO

Have you seen the movie where folks breath easier after they lock up the character everyone thinks is a bad guy? Then it turns out he's only a peripheral player; the real killer is still out there.

Chances are you have, since its a popular story formula. A version of this same plot is now being played out in Washington. In the aftermath of the violence at Columbine, blame is being aimed at Hollywood when the target should really be guns, a nearly unregulated product.

The same government that's failed to impose consumer product safety or advertising standards for marketing guns to kids is now firing on Hollywood for doing the same with films.

In blasting away at violence, governmental ammunition has been diverted to Hollywood while the real target hasn't been hit. When it comes to imposing advertising or safety standards on gun manufacturers, the government has curiously held its fire. Meanwhile, gun makers have placed youth squarly in their marketing sights with revolver and shot gun ads in youth publications like Boys Life.

That being said, no one should rightfully condone marketing violence, in any form, to minors. The entertainment industry, like every other facet of society, must be mindful of the signals it puts out. But many of its members, who are quietly trying to be part of the solution, are getting overlooked in the finger-pointing stampede.

It's clear there is room for improvement, and there are those within our industry who are agressively addressing the issues of gun violence, firearm safety and injury prevention as they are depicted in entertainment products, making sure they are handled accurately and responsibly.

It seems, however, that to Washington, the R in the ratings system now stands for the threat of Regulation. If anything, the FTC has shined a light on the need for parents to guide their children's entertainment diet by using the ratings systems that the entertainment industry has provided them. It only takes a few extra moments for a parent to call Movie Fone or visit the appropriate web sites to find out why a movie has been given its rating.

The reality is, no matter what entertainment creators and marketers do to take action to address this issue — no matter what changes take place in our creative and marketing practices — none of it will make our children bullet proof. After all, harris and Klebold didn't mow down those Columbine students with a reel of film. They used a TEC-9, not an R or PG-13.