THE DOORS OF DECEPTION by. John P. SisknOne of the many sociological uses of Hollywood is itsndramatic availability when things go wrong in America.nMichael Satchell, for instance, has raised the questionnin Parade of whether the movies by too often glamorizingndrugs and alcohol encourage their use among youngnpeople. He cites Goldie Hawn, Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton,nLily Tomlin, and JoBeth Williams as actresses who “havenbeen shown smoking marijuana in millions of American,nhomes.” He impresses actor Paul Newman, whose son diednafter mixing alcohol and Valium, with “a list of sixty filmsnwith positive drug messages,” and he quotes Senator WilliamnV. Roth’s conviction that movie stars “are great rolenmodels for young people—movies are a glamour industryn—and when drugs are shown in a favorable light it has verynreal impact.” Some critics, says Satchell, want the MohonnPicture Association of America to supplement its currentnrating system with letters (“SA”) that indicate “substancenabuse”—especially given the strong possibility that Hollywoodnmight have to choose between self-censorship andngovernment censorship.nSatchell’s article makes it clear that there are still peoplenaround who believe that the moviemakers have a moralnobligation to take a stand against drug abuse. Does thisnimply their agreement with the ancient conviction that thentheater, and the arts generally, cannot be subversive to thenbest interests of the individual and society without beingnaesthetically false? The question is hardly a subject fornParade, but it does take us back to times when moralizingncritics of the theater had a less complicated task. In thenElizabethan period, when he wrote tTiat “the groundwork ofncomedies is loe, cozenage, flattery, bawdry, sly conveyancenof whoredom,” Stephen Gosson could assume that notneven his playgoing opposition would contend that societynmight be better off with a little more bawdry and whoredom.nWhen a century later Jeremy Collier anatomized then”licentiousness and irreligion” of the Restoration theater,nhe was addressing readers whom he knew would agree withnhim, Aristotle, Horace, and Ben Jonson that the end of allnthe arts is the public good, however those readers might onnoccasion enjoy the licentiousness. The public morality,noften enough honored in the breach rather than thenobservance, had not yet been reduced to a cultural epistemenfrom which the authentic person was expected to freenhimself If Sir John Vanbrugh appeared to argue in ThenProvoked Wife that marriage “is a poor, sordid slavery,” hencould not, like Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw magazine,nplead his First Amendment rights against potential censors.nAs a defender of the public morality. Collier also had thenad’antage of not having to concern himself with thenpossible bad effects of actors and actresses as role models.nHe would hardly have appro’ed of the adulterous off-stagenlife of Nell Gwyn and Elizabeth Barry (mistresses respectivelynto Charles II and the Earl of Rochester), and he seemsn]ohn Sisk is Arnold Professor of the Humanities atnGonzaga University. He is the author of Person andnInstitution.nto have believed with Ben Jonson that “’tis impossible to bena good poet without being a good man,” but the play wasnthe thing. In a celebrity-dazzled and media-hyped culturensuch as ours, his critical life would be more complicated; anpot-smoking Nell Gwyn in a play he otherwise approved ofnmight rnake him sound more like Jerry Falwell and less likenWalter-Kerr.nWe cannot imagine a society without role models,nwhether classic superachievers like Ulysses, home-run hittersnlike Reggie Jackson, or rock singers like Madonna, butnit is hard to believe that public entertainers have ever hadnthe role-modeling power that they have in our society.nHollywood realized early the extent to which this powerncould threaten its best interests; hence the efforts to keepnmore liberated performers within at least hailing distance ofnthe public morality and to expect the cooperahon of pressnagents when they got too far out of line. A Fatty Arbucklenscandal was not only morally messy but expensive.nAt the same time, however, it was expensive not tonexploit the role-modeling capacities of the performers, andnin any event the nature of motion pictures made thennnOCTOBER fm/17n