Wednesday, July 30, 2003

News Corp. - Anything to make a buck?

I haven't really been keeping up with the news, but I managed to learn from Mark Shea's blog this past week that 20th Century Fox may distribute Mel Gibson's Passion.

20th Century Fox is owned by News Corporation, which also owns Fox News (what you might call a fairly politically "conservative" television station, in spite of their claim to objective journalism) and the Zondervan Publishing House, which is one of the largest sellers of bibles, books and gifts for primarily Evangelical Christian audiences. So, this wasn't really all that suprising -- it makes perfect sense to me.

But I learned a couple days later that the same mega-corporation pushing to distribute a religious film of this nature and magnitude is also gearing up to produce a new "soap-opera" series about porn scheduled for prime time television (Finally, Porn Does Prime Time, by Frank Rich. The New York Times, July 27, 2003):

"Skin," the first prime-time network series to take on what is euphemistically called the adult entertainment industry. And with a soupçon of Shakespeare, yet. "Skin" tells of the forbidden romance between a 17-year-old Mexican-Irish Romeo, whose father is the Los Angeles D.A., and a 16-year-old Jewish Juliet, whose father is a porn king. Or as the show's Web site sums it up: " `Skin' is about sex and race. `Skin' is about politics. And most of all, `Skin' is about skin: complexion, beauty, desire, attraction, obsession and prejudice in contemporary Los Angeles."

Now, I'm not really business-savvy so please, correct me if I'm wrong . . . but is there justifiable reason to be disturbed about this? Does the fact that News Corp. owns both 20th Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting Company mean that somebody (or a board of somebodies) at the top is pulling the strings, and has some kind of say in what kind of commodities are being distributed? -- Or do they simply plead ignorance, "the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing", delegating such decisions about content to the individual entities? And who is the ultimate recipient of the consumer dollar?

Just something I've been wondering about today. I find it disconcerting to realize how much material being manufactured by way of the television, radio, newspaper, magazine and books one encounters on a day to day basis -- often, as is the case with Gibson's The Passion and Jerry Bruckhimer's "Skin", with radically conflicting messages and content -- is actually being produced and/or distributed by a handful of powerful media conglomerates. Such is the age we live in.

On a related note, the advent of 'Skin' is just another illustration of the growing integration and acceptance of pornography in mainstream media, as Frank Rich writes in his article for the New York Times. Last year Frontline did a special investigation on PBS on this topic, with special attention to the mainstream corporations which profit from the porn industry. PBS also interviewed Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore and co-chairman of the interfaith Religious Alliance Against Pornography, who has tangled with AT&T and General Motors on their support of this industry, about whom he says:

I have a hunch that there are people at the very top that don't understand what they're into. There are people making decisions based on the dollars, without realizing how awful the content is that they're involved with. They're too busy with their business to take a look at the product.

And I've had people in Hollywood, and in our own local TV industry, say, "Well, we're making products and showing things I wouldn't let my own children see, I wouldn't permit into my house." That tells me something about these people who are more sensitive. But I think some of the people at the top in this way in which so much in the entertainment industry has been centralized, look only at the bottom line, and do not look at the content. And they're not even concerned about it. They're only interested in profit.

No comments:

Post a Comment