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Michael Medved says there is a "A Profound National Shift."  Hollywood is cleaning up its act.  Medved is a film critic for The New York Post and co-host of Sneak Previews, the weekly movie review show on PBS. He is an outspoken supporter of decency in the popular culture. 
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"A Profound National Shift"
A reprint from The Plain Truth Magazine. Used by permission.

Michael Medved is a film critic for The New York Post and co-host of Sneak Previews, the weekly movie review show on PBS. He is an outspoken supporter of decency in the popular culture. One catches a glimpse of the depth of his concern for the American family near the end of his best-selling Hollywood vs. America. He writes of his "protective instincts" for his children mixed with a "terrible sense of powerlessness" as he watches his daughters hugging each other, asleep in bed, blankets tangled around their feet:

"I know that these children cannot sleep this sweet sleep forever; they will some day face a world that delivers its moments of shock, darkness, and despair. But not now, please. Not yet.  May the frights and the furies of our current cultural malaise let them sleep--and play--in peace a while longer."

Plain Truth: You refer to the entertainment world as this "appalling but amazing industry." Do you hold out some hope for Hollywood?

Michael Medved: It is most shocking that two films--Cry, the Beloved Country and Dead Man Walking--are profoundly religious. Susan Sarandon's Academy Award-winning performance as a nun is the strongest portrayal of that role since The Sound of Music.

Cry, the Beloved Country is about reconciliation in South Africa. Dead Man Walking offers a\ balance to the pro-capital punishment argument. Now, when there are heroic priest figures in the movies--such as the film City of Joy--they are usually excised. It is encouraging to see people pray in a movie.

Q. Is this countertrend a result of Hollywood producers and actors taking more serious stock of their own lives?

A. The basic thing is this huge and profound national shift back to traditional values, centering especially on the family. It is so meaningful it is even infecting Hollywood.

Q. Most teenagers I know loved Ron Howard's tribute to the space program in Apollo 13. What were your reactions?

A. This was a very interesting film, not only from the standpoint of celebrating American heroes. Most hero epics, even the good ones, celebrate heroes as loners--Rambo or the Arnold Schwarzenegger sagas, for example. But in Apollo 13 the theme is teamwork. These guys are 100 percent dependent on each other, one of the most important lessons you can teach children.

Q. To talk about television for a minute, you've said that violence is the worst aspect of modern entertainment. How does that play out in the world of reality?

A. Well, one of the things I do when I give lectures is ask, "How many people in this room have ever witnessed a murder in real life?" Every once in a while, somebody will sort of shyly put up a hand--one person in a room of hundreds.

And then I ask, "How many people have ever seen a murder on TV?" Everybody raises their hands. The most violent ghetto in American life is the ghetto of prime-time television. The fact is that violence is grossly overstated on television.

Q. But do you see room for hope?

A. In 1992, 17 percent of the films released here were rated PG--Parental Guidance. Last year, it was 24 percent. This is a big increase. We still have 60 percent of movies that are rated Restricted, but it shows there are more positive forces at work.


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