WASHINGTON – In the days following last month’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., President Obama promised to convene a broad national dialogue about the causes of gun violence. But in the proposals that the president put forward on Wednesday, selected from a range of options prepared for him by Vice President Biden, critics noticed what they considered to be a large hole.
“It looks like the entertainment industry, once again, is getting off light,” said Dan Isett, director of public policy at the Parents Television Council, a non-profit organization formed 16 years ago to help parents shield children from the violence, sex and profanity offered in TV shows, movies, video games and online fare.
Isett noted that President Obama enjoys wide and deep support from the entertainment industry and that it was within his power to urge its leaders to be more responsible about the content they market to teenagers and children. “He has failed to do that,” Isett told Fox News.
“Hollywood is one of the biggest lobbies here in Washington,” he added. “They outspend the National Rifle Association by a factor of twenty to one, in terms of maintaining the status quo here in Washington, and making sure that only their voice is heard in this debate. They were very effective at that last week. What needs to happen is to have some real parental voices at the table.”
In his remarks at the White House, President Obama made no reference to popular culture or Hollywood. He singled out video games, however, and called for fresh examination of their impact. “I will direct the Centers for Disease Control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce [gun violence],” the president said. “And Congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds."
In a statement, the gaming industry’s premier trade group, the Entertainment Software Association, said its leaders “agree that the entertainment and video game industries have a responsibility to give parents tools and choices" that would help them manage how much violence their children consume. But the group added: "Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: Entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world."
The Motion Picture Association of America, led by former U.S. senator Chris Dodd, a Democrat, said in a statement released jointly with broadcasting and cable groups that they welcome "further academic examination" of what the groups called "a complex problem."