Frequent television and print exposure made Michael Medved ahighly visible participant in the 1992 debate sparked by Republicanvilification of the “media elite.” Published just before electionday with the warning “This Book Contains Explicit Material,” hisHOLLYWOOD VS. AMERICA dwells extensively on movies, televisionprograms, songs, and artworks that, he claims, typify thecorrupting influence of the nation’s creative community. Hisconcluding chapters emphasize the important role religiousorganizations and pressure groups can play in restoring the kind ofdecency and optimism he claims prevailed in Hollywood during thelate 1930’s. A return to that period’s values, would, he contends,prove both profitable and laudable, bringing the entertainmentindustry back in touch with the American public.
Although it may be well-intentioned, Medved’s case is weak inmany respects. He misuses institutional data, referring tofindings when they support his points but neglecting to contendwith the same information when it contradicts other parts of hismessage. Oversimplifying myriad movies in order to put them in themost negative light, he buries his argument under hyperbole,finding fault with AN AMERICAN TAIL 2: FIEVEL GOES WEST (1992),GHOST (1990), and even THE LITTLE MERMAID (1990) in addition topredictable targets such as THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988). Flattering descriptions of HOME ALONE (1990) as a story “aboutloving parents and endangered offspring” and I LOVE LUCY’s Ricardosas a model family also bring his judgment into question. Combinedwith Medved’s excessive use of modifiers and alliteration, suchflaws lend an almost hysterical edge to his exploration of acontroversial issue.