Obama told donor Katzenberg to “think long and hard” about profitable gun violence movies
November 16, 2013
Obama visited Hollywood on Tuesday during a fundraising swing and urged executives and employees to “think long and hard” about gun violence messages in movies. “We gotta make sure that we’re not glorifying it,” he told an audience at DreamWorks.
Hollywood leans heavily on violence in movies to entertain audiences. Earlier this month, it was reported that a study to be published in the December issue of Pediatrics found that PG-13 movies are now more violent than R-rated movies. “Violent encounters with guns occur, on average, more than twice an hour in the best sellers in both ratings categories, according to researchers, who worked with support from the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,” the New York Times reported on November 11.
In response to complaints about violence, Senator Joe Lieberman, the Connecticut Independent, has proposed a bill that would allow the government to fine companies that advertise violent movies to children. The ACLU said the legislation is reminiscent of the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty Four.
Obama owes a big favor to DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. The film industry mogul has donated extensively to Obama and Democrat super-PACs. Katzenberg is one of Obama’s most generous donors. So important is Katzenberg to Team Obama, in August the president held a nonscheduled private dinner with the former chairman of the Walt Disney Studios at a Los Angeles hotel.
Faced with criticism that Obama is playing favorites with big league donors, Josh Earnest, the White House principal deputy press secretary rolled out a response. “DreamWorks obviously is a thriving business and is creating lots of jobs in Southern California,” he said. “And the fact of the matter is Mr. Katzenberg’s support for the president’s policies has no bearing on our decision to visit here, rather it’s an opportunity.”
In January, members of Congress accused Obama of hypocrisy on the issue of gun violence in movies after he signed a number of executive actions the administration claimed would reduce gun violence.
“He gave his coziest Hollywood contributors a free pass,” Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, told a Houston radio station. “And if there’s one industry I think that makes the most money off of glorifying violence, it’s that industry.”
Obama told the crowd at DreamWorks the film industry is an asset for a depressed economy. “Entertainment is one of the bright spots of the economy,” he said.
Artists planned to protest the Obama visit at the studio in Glendale, California. They are outraged over outsourced jobs.