Hollywood Execs Admit Bad Judgment

Thursday, September 28th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — To Matt Casazza and fellow teens, the debate raging over Hollywood's marketing of violent films to youth leaves them with one question: Who cares?

``Sooner or later they're all gonna come out on tape and then you can rent it,'' the 15-year-old Casazza said. ``It doesn't really matter, because they don't card at (video stores).''

Teen-agers across the country were largely unaware of — and uninterested in — the Senate committee hearings under way in Washington on Wednesday in which Hollywood executives admitted marketing movies made for adults to children.

Despite pressure from lawmakers, executives refused to promise an end to the practice. Joseph Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential nominee and senator from Casazza's home state of Connecticut, derided movie makers for refusing to ``say explicitly that they would stop marketing adult-rated products to our children.''

Although many teens said there's too much sex and violence in many films, they agreed with Casazza that Washington is powerless to do much about it.

``I don't think (lawmakers) can stop you from seeing something out there,'' said Cassity Hamilton, a 12-year-old resident of the Atlanta suburb of Woodstock, Ga. ``Kids are going to watch what they want, some way.''

Sarah Wilson, a 16-year-old resident of Chapel Hill, N.C., said her class at school had discussed the debate over advertising for R-rated movies, which are supposed to be restricted to people 17 and older unless accompanied by a parent. While she goes to R-rated films in theaters, she thinks Hollywood goes overboard on the violence and nudity.

``Most of it's unnecessary anyway,'' she said. ``If they really want kids to watch the movie, then they should put things in it that are appropriate for kids. I think (violence) desensitizes us to things that happen in
everyday life.''

Another 16-year-old North Carolina girl agreed that R-rated movies are too violent for some young people.

``Little children don't need to be introduced to those things until they're older. What kind of audience are they trying to attract?'' asked Emily Alderman of Raleigh, N.C.

One Southern California teen-ager who has been home-schooled said he and his friends try to be selective about the R-rated movies they watch.

``A lot of it is garbage in, garbage out. Know what I mean? The movies tend to play up the sex and the violence,'' said Matthew Beasley, an Orange County 17-year-old who watched R-rated movies before his recent birthday.

Studio executives said Wednesday that all R-rated films are not inappropriate for young people and might even be valuable for mature viewers under 17. The executives reminded the Senate Commerce Committee that an ``R'' rating does not bar children, it only requires they be accompanied by a parent.

Rob White, a 17-year-old from Shelby, N.C., has gone to R-rated movies with his parents.

``Ultimately I think it is the responsibility of the parents,'' he said. ``If the parents are responsible, then I don't think it makes a difference what kids watch.''

In the end, teen-agers say they'll continue frequenting R-rated movies because other films simply don't interest them.

``What else is there to go see? Any movie worth going to is R-rated,'' said Shawn McReedy, a 13-year-old from Woodstock, Ga.

Casazza and his 16-year-old friend Cate Holden agreed, saying they shun ``G'' and PG-13 movies and ``don't do cartoons.''

``I don't want to see a G-rated movie,'' Casazza said. ``They can make a PG-13 movie as long as it's not too corny. The Walt Disney movies and stuff ... the happy endings — I don't like that.''


On the Net: Motion Picture Association of America: http://www.mpaa.org

Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov