Hollywood reaps what it sows

By Kelly Hollowell

Peter Chernin, who runs 20th Century Fox, as well as other Hollywood moguls are shocked and dismayed that pirates of the Internet are bootlegging their blockbuster films even before they hit the big screen. In an interview with Leslie Stahl of “60 Minutes,” Chernin lamented, “I think they know it’s stealing and I don’t think they think it’s wrong.”

He boo-hooed that the future of big-studio movies is ultimately at stake, fearing Hollywood will find itself in the same boat as record companies a few years back when the Napster epidemic drained their profits by bootlegging music over the Internet.

The basic scam uses peer-to-peer networks that allow individual computer users to share files with each other. So once a single person obtains a digital copy of a document, image, audio, software or video, it can be shared with the click of a mouse with millions of other computer users – all free of charge.

According to the interview, “that’s the dagger pointed right at the heart of Hollywood because movies make the bulk of their money on DVD and home video sales.” The domino effect is that if Hollywood can’t make big money, big-budget films will not be made. (Honestly, I can’t imagine how society will carry on without the likes of “Ishtar” and “Water World.”)

The studios are battling this one in the courts, but it’s a lost cause. The software for file-sharing is legal and the networks providing the software can’t be held liable for how their software is used. Of course, Hollywood can attempt to chase down and sue individual computer users. But just one popular peer-to-peer network called Kazaa has millions of users online at any given time.

So why do I find this Hollywood sob story almost laughable?

For decades, the Hollywood elite and its industry have led the charge in moral depravity. They blur the lines between right and wrong better than anybody on issues of sex, violence and abuse. They promote and celebrate decadence of every kind packaging the most obscene behavior like prostitution into movies like “Pretty Woman.”

Pornography is marketed as 21st century chic rather than the exploitation and objectification of women. The rebel without a cause is made the big-screen hero through the glorification of bad behavior. Lying to parents, skipping school and experimenting with drugs is how hip high-schoolers spend their time. And college life is everyone’s license to explore the most deviant behavior.

As a direct product of the Hollywood propaganda the last decade was riddled with headlines of children killing other children in the classroom and schoolyard, teen pregnancy and drug abuse on the rise. According to one study, of 1,700 sixth-to-ninth-grade students 65 percent of the boys and 47 percent of the girls said that forced sex was acceptable if a couple dated six months.

A survey by the Josephson Institute of Ethics of 12,000 high-school students showed that students admitting they cheated on an exam at least once in the past year jumped from 61 percent in 1992 to 74 percent in 2002; the number who stole something from a store within the past 12 months rose from 31 percent to 38 percent, while the percentage who say they lied to their teachers and parents also increased substantially. And those who said they would be willing to lie to get a good job jumped from 28 percent to 39 percent in just two years.

Michael Josephson, president of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, said: “The evidence is that a willingness to cheat has become the norm and that parents, teachers, coaches and even religious educators have not been able to stem the tide. The scary thing is that so many kids are entering the workforce to become corporate executives, politicians, airplane mechanics and nuclear inspectors with the dispositions and skills of cheaters and thieves.” In the process, society has become desensitized to the once stalwart virtues of right and wrong.

Think about how few people blink when a governor and father of two children announces he cheated on his wife because his reality is that he is a gay American. Think about how many people even today would re-elect a president who abused the power of his office with sexual indiscretions followed by lies to the American people and a grand jury. Think about the corporate corruption running rapid in the country as CEOs of major financial institutions make-off with the life savings of millions of average working Americans. Who cares as long as it doesn’t affect them directly?

So now the decadence has at long last turned without remorse on the very industry that helped create this culture of moral depravity. And they’re crying “foul”? “We want protection, exemption and justice.”

All I have to say is “you reap what you sow.”