head and shoulders and closed his eelids.rnI felt that I had intruded at a momentrnwhich should have been kept sacred.”rnAn ad-writer for J.R. Reynoldsrncouldn’t have put it better.rnArthur Lubow correctly sums uprnRichard Harding Davis’s place in Americanrnliterary history by saying, “Had hisrnlegend been tarnished by sexual scandalrnor neurotic eccentricity, it wouldrnhac shown brighter in the modernrnwodd. histead, it quiekh’ gathered dust,rnlike an Eastlake chair in grandmother’srnparlor. His hearty, boyish optimismrnclashed irreconcilably with the furnishingsrnof the modern mind.” ThoughrnLubovy looks like a oung fellow himself,rnhe has done Richard Harding Davisrna grand and memorable service in thisrnfast-paced, gracefully crafted, and continuallyrnentertaining record of a hero ofrnthe ephemeral trade of journalism andrnits evanescent celebrity.rnH.W. Crocker UI is deputy director forrnwriting and research for Governor PeternWihon of California.rnWhat Is tornBe Done?rnby WiHiam BaerrnHollywood vs. America: PopularrnCulture and the War Againstrntraditional Valuesrnby Michael MedvedrnNew York: HarperCollins;rn288 pp., $20.00rnThe first thing I did when I becamernpresident of the MotionrnPicture Association of America was tornjunk the Hays Production Code.” JackrnValenti eliminated the I lays ProductionrnCode in 1966—when the average weeklyrnmotion-picture audience in the UnitedrnStates was 38 million people. Thernvcrv next year, with the “moral strictures”rnof the old code gone and the infectiousrn”new” ideas of the counterculturernseeping into I lollywood, the weeklyrnaverage fell to 17 million. Less thanrnhalf. It was the most astonishing oneyearrndecline in motion-picture histor.rnAnd the industry has never recoveredrnits lost audience. As recently as 1991,rnthe weekly aerage was still onlv 18 millionrn(and any seemingly impressi’e boxofficernreceipts are really the result of arnticket-price inflation of neady 70 percentrnover the past ten years). Whatrnhappened? Everyone knows what happened,rnbut three-time Oscar winnerrnFrank Capra, who retired in disgust fromrnthe business in the late 60’s, describesrnit with gusto in his autobiograph- ThernName Above the Title (197]):rnThe winds of change blewrnthrough the dream factories ofrnmake-belie’e. . . . The hedonists,rnthe homosexuals, the hemophilicrnbleeding hearts, the God-haters,rnthe quick-buck artists who substitutedrnshock for talent, all cried:rn”Shake ’em! Rattle ’em! God isrndead. . . . Shock! To hell yvith therngood in man. Dredge up hisrnevil—shock! Shock!”rnAnd yet, amazing as it seems, thingsrnhave actuall} gotten far worse than theyrnwere in the late 1960’s.rnIn his excellent and courageous neyvrnbook, Hollywood vs. America, MichaelrnMedved, co-host of PBS’s Sneak Previews,rnanalvzes both the extent of thernproblem and the reason why things wentrnwrong. Regarding the latter, he describesrnthe core of the industry as a smallrncommunity of insecure professionalsrnwho want, more than anything else, tornbe “taken seriously” and considered asrn”artists.” Generally uninformed aboutrnthe arts, they eagerly bought into thern60’s revival of that old, simpleminded,rnand quite boring Jacobin notion that thern”real” artist continuall} shocks and irritatesrnthe bourgeoisie. I’his led to a naturalrnantipathv and arrogance toward thernideals of middle-class America—theirrnpotential audience.rnFor example, in his chapter entitledrn”The Glorification of Ugliness,” Medvedrndiscusses Hollywood’s most recent obsessions:rncannibalism (at least 11 films inrnthe past four years), urine (17 recent examples),rnand vomit (one could evenrncompare the xomiting techniques ofrnMeryl Streep, Siss Spaeek, and PavernDunawa). Medved also prepares hisrnreaders for the forthcoming big-budgetrnfilm Sacred Cows, in which the Presidentrnof the United States somehow hasrnsex with a barnard bovine.rnMore fundamental aspects of thernproblem that are analyzed by Medved,rnwith both depth and countless examples,rnarc Hollywood’s relentless assaultsrnon religion and the traditional family,rnits exaltation of promiscuity (and evenrnillegitimacy), its addiction to violencernand obscenity, its antipathy to heroes,rnand its constant bashing of the UnitedrnStates. Concerning this last issue,rnMedved writes of the absurdly revisionistrnDances with Wolves: “By convertingrnthese Sioux Indians into gentle, vaguclvrnpacifist, en’ironnientalK- responsible bucolics,rnKevin Costner, in a state of hoK’rnempty-headedncss, has falsified historrnas much as any time-serving Stalinist ofrnthe Red Decade.”rnThe motion-picture industry, ofrncourse, defiantly rejects such criticism.rnExcrvthing it docs is either a “reflection”rnof society (an argument that Medvedrneffectively demolishes) or simply a formrnof entertainment with no real impactrnon its ‘icwcrs. Thus the same peoplernwho relentlessly drop gratuitous environmentalrn”messages” into their filmsrnin order to “save the earth” will, at thernsame time, deny that The Deer Hunter’srnpremier on national television had anythingrnto do with the 26 people who, inrnsubsequent weeks, killed themselvesrnpla ing Russian roulette. Medved is particuladyrneffective in destroying the lingeringrnmyth that “no one really knows”rnwhether film and television violence affectsrnthe viewing audience. As he discussesrnin detail, “more than three thousandrnresearch projects and scientificrnstudies between 196(1 and 1992 havernconfirmed the correlation between arnsteady diet of violent entertainment andrnaggressive and antisocial behavior.”rnSo what can be done? MichaelrnMedved doesn’t l^elicxe that either federalrncensorship or a resurrected productionrncode would work in today’s diversifiedrnHollywood. He docs feel thatrnboycotts and lobbying groups can bernparticularly effective. And he also believesrnthat “movicland missionaries” ofrntraditional Christian or Jewish beliefsrncan greatly affect the industry by offeringrna viable and fulfilling response torn”the spiritual hunger” of many 1 lollywoodrnprofessionals—a “hunger” thatrnis frcquentlv wasted on Scientology,rnShirley MacLainc-t pe idiocy, or the latestrnindustry fad; Marianne Williamson’srn”Course in Miracles.”rnWiUiam Baer is editor of the Formalistrnand writes from Evansville, Indiana.rn34/CHRONICLESrnrnrn