Drug Czar To Target Film Themes 

Drug Czar To Target Film Themes 
Posted by FoM on July 11, 2000 at 07:41:12 PT
By Eric Lichtblau, Times Staff Writer
Source: Los Angeles Times
White House drug policymakers, undeterred by the flak they caught earlier this year for quietly trying to sprinkle anti-drug messages into some of the nation's most popular television shows, want to expand into an even bigger arena: the silver screen.   Federal officials plan to "leverage popular movies" by working more closely with major studios, writers and directors to promote films that "responsibly communicate anti-drug campaign messages," according to a plan that Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, is expected to disclose today in congressional testimony.
  "As powerful as television is, some experts believe that movies have an even stronger impact on young people," according to McCaffrey's statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Times.   McCaffrey's push on the cinematic front promises to reopen a furious debate over how far government should go to get its anti-drug message out to young people.   In January, McCaffrey weathered fierce criticism from members of Congress, civil libertarians and creative forces in the television industry when it was disclosed that his office quietly had been giving major TV networks millions of dollars' worth of financial credit for incorporating positive anti-drug messages in popular shows such as "E.R.," "Beverly Hills, 90210," "Cosby" and others.   The unusual arrangement grew out of 1997 legislation authorizing McCaffrey's office to spend as much as $1 billion over five years to get anti-drug messages into the popular media.   White House drug officials said the campaign has been so successful that, by their count, the vast majority of children 12 to 17 are exposed to more than eight paid anti-drug advertisements each week, plus many subtler messages contained in programmed entertainment. But critics said that the campaign amounts to Orwellian-like censorship by the government, using hidden financial incentives to get its message into standard programming fare.   The 1997 legislation requires that for every dollar the government spends on anti-drug ads, the media outlet that receives the money--be it a television station, a newspaper, a magazine or other outlets--must match it with a public service announcement or similar anti-drug themed message.   But TV executives are loath to use valuable commercial air time for free ads, and McCaffrey's office has allowed the major networks the option of meeting the air-time requirement by broadcasting shows that include positive and "accurate depictions of drug-use issues."   To date, 109 television episodes have been awarded credit for what were deemed to be positive messages. In some instances, White House drug officials reviewed scripts and advance footage of shows and suggested changes. But when criticism erupted in January after an article appeared in the online magazine Salon, McCaffrey's office revised its policies so that programs no longer would be reviewed for credit until after they had been broadcast.   In April, McCaffrey withstood a fresh round of criticism when it was disclosed that at least six major magazines and several newspapers also had met matching requirements under the 1997 legislation by publishing articles with positive drug messages.   The potential role of movies in the drug office's campaign received virtually no discussion during the debate over the incentive program.   McCaffrey has talked before about wanting to work more closely with Hollywood to promote anti-drug messages, but a draft of his comments to be delivered today before a panel of the House Government Reform Committee suggests a far more aggressive foray into films.   Campaign to Focus on Filmmakers:   Along with a broader discussion of how his agency is seeking to influence the portrayal of drug use in the media, McCaffrey plans to devote one section of his testimony to "Focusing on Filmmakers." McCaffrey's text says that "to impact film, the campaign will work closely with major studios, as well as the individual writers and directors, who are the driving force behind what is seen on the screen.   "Getting campaign messages in front of these individuals requires working with the organizations that represent them, such as the writers and directors guilds. We have begun this process . . . and will continue our efforts through workshops, briefings, round-tables and one-on-one conversations with industry leaders," he said.   "Through continuous dialogue we believe we can raise awareness about how images of substance abuse in the movies impact audiences, particularly young audiences," he said. But as protracted as the process for making movies can be, McCaffrey said, he "understands that we may not see concrete results for several years."   McCaffrey said that he also wants to capitalize on the high visibility of movies by planning promotional links and special events once they are released. What is left unsaid in his statement, however, is whether McCaffrey plans to use financial incentives to influence the actual content of movies, as has happened in television.   Bob Weiner, a spokesman for McCaffrey, said that the White House drug office has bought a limited number of anti-drug trailer ads to be shown in theaters before movies. Although he could not provide specific figures, Weiner said that to his knowledge all of the movie studios and theater owners that screened those trailers met matching requirements by showing additional public service trailers, not by submitting claims for movies with anti-drug spins.   "But if the movies choose to do that, they can submit it to our contractors, after the movie is completed, for review for credit," he added.   Industry Wary of Proposal:   Officials on Capitol Hill and in Hollywood said they would be wary of any efforts to expand McCaffrey's reach into the movie industry.   "This certainly raises a lot of new questions," one congressional source said. "How is this going to be done and--given the track record by McCaffrey's office in TV programming and the ambivalence out there on Capitol Hill--how will it be received?"   Andy Zahn, an executive with the DreamWorks studio who deals with political outreach issues, noted that there have been a number of efforts over the years to incorporate more positive portrayals in the movies on subjects like the environment, alcohol abuse and seat belts.   But the groups pushing those causes usually are not associated with the government, which has greater power to impose its will, he added.   "If this is something that's not positioned as a joint cooperative effort," he said of McCaffrey's comments, "it will have a hard time getting any traction. Otherwise, there certainly would be some resistance." Washington D.C.Published: July 11, 2000Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times Related Articles:Propaganda for Dollars Money, How the White House Secretly Hooked TV Must See Television, Propaganda
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #3 posted by Mitchell on July 17, 2000 at 19:27:19 PT:
One Nation Six Flags Indivisible
One Nation: Six Flags IndivisibleÖ It seems each day America becomes more and more like a theme park: Your options are extremely limited but nobody minds because what few options you do have are just so gosh darn good and good for you that there really isn't much point in complaining. Each "option" is artfully bolstered on behalf of the wary individual psyche with lots of promotion, advertising, and new stories. No wonder Florida gave Mr. Walt Disney unprecedented powers in creating his Disney World there. He wasnít creating an amusement park, he was creating a "World of Tomorrow," a prototype for 21st century living. Letís see, should we take a left and head on over to Space Mountain or go right and head over to The Halls of the Presidents? Verily, Itís a Small World After All, and getting more constricted everyday.Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey is right now in the middle of a five-year, one billion dollar advertising buy covering network and cable television, major newspapers and the largest national magazines. Congress stipulated though that those who are on that one billion dollar gravy train had to "match" the government ad purchase with an equal amount of free ads. So if the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) takes out a million dollars worth of TV commercials on ABC, the network has to run a million dollars worth of anti-drug public service announcements (PSA) free. Billion dollar advertisers with a credit rating like the U.S. government are used to getting huge discounts on their ad buys. But the government, of course, winds up paying retail, so Congress probably figured this was a smart way impose a discount.A huge controversy erupted though when it was discovered that the ONDCP was assisting with and even pre-approving actual programming so that those accepting ad dollars from the government could provide "content" instead of a free ads. Instead of an ad, the networks can just air a show with an anti-drug theme. Itís kind of like when Reeses Pieces paid to be the candy of choice in E.T. Programming is more powerful than ads in keeping kids off drugs, McCaffrey testified before Congress. McCaffrey will continue to allow his ad vendors to provide content in lieu of free advertising, except now the show must first air before it is considered and approved as an equivalent of a free ad. The ONDCP is especially interested in content related to marijuana and inhalants, according to their National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign report. [Ally! WHAT are you doing with that paint thinner?] We at Amabong.Com envision a world where all programming content is seeded with advertising and the need for prints ads and commercials is therby elminated. A world where the wall between content and advertising is knocked down and the two are artfully and scientifcally co-mingled. McCaffrey has established a beachhead in eliminating distracting advertisements. Further, the government could expand their media-morals-project to target others beyond stoners, huffers and other actual and potential druggies. If sin remains a chronic problem in our midst, itís only because the Ad Council hasnít been given enough money and direction to massage our brains in just the right way. In only a few years we could have: August 24, 2004MemoTo: Office of National Danger Control PolicyFROM: American Broadcasting Company MEMO TO: OFFICE OF NATIONAL DANGER CONTROL POLICYEnclosed please find the script of a program which was broadcast on July 17, 2004 for reimbursement under the Pro-Bono Match Program of televised "content" (wink, wink) in lieu of actual of advertising. We are applying under program 17a: Inflatable Balls (Also Pucks), Just Say No To. ABC After School Special: Roger Stands His GroundScene: A boy (Roger) is studying in the school library after gym class, he is approached by two other boys, Dewitt and Nat. Nat: Hey Rodge, you were looking pretty sharp at badminton during gym. Roger: Yeah thanks.Dewitt: I didnít know you went in for sports. Roger: (Flushing Red) Itís not sports I have a problem with, itís inflatable balls and also pucks. Badmintonís okay though. Dewitt: Whatís wrong with balls and pucks? Heck, Nat and I are going to meet in the clearing behind the old Hemphill farm for a pick up game of football after school today, ya wanna come?Roger: No! You guys know the dangers. Football was bad enough when people used to play it with equipment. My Dad says a guy died playing at his high school. And a lot of other guys were crippled and even paralyzed. The National Arthritis Foundation saysÖNat: We know all that junk about the National Arthritis Foundation. Itís still more fun than you can have in this dump. When my brother went to this school, not only was football allowed, they even had teams, uniforms and equipment. Everybody would turn out for the big game. What are you reading anyhow? Whatís Op Art?Dewitt: Yeah. It must have been great around here back then.Nat: So anyway Roger, whatís a matter? You SCARED?Roger: You bet Iím scared. Iím scared by the prospect of having to build a better society with so many people throwing their futures away on sports. Iím scared of the high taxes weíll have to pay because you and people like you are destroying your bodies and doing nothing with your minds. Iím scared of the irresponsible behavior ball sports, and also pucks, lead to, in the form of rage, bullying, steroid abuse, date rape, and drunken driving.Nat: Well donít break a sweat Rodge. We were just asking. Hey, can I see that art book when youíre through with it?DeWitt: Yeah, no hard feelings, Rodge. Are you done with those Reeces Pieces? Mitchell
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by Mari on July 11, 2000 at 20:34:05 PT
The General
Isn't time for General McCarthey,eh..McCaffery to take a long rest somewhere?When was the last time this idiot had a psychological work-up by anyone other than the military?Can no one see the deteriation of thought process here?His office is still under investigation for the TV crap and the cookies!And he waltzes in and wants to put his filth in the movies!What next?Loyalty oaths?Required viewing of govt.propaganda in schools and work?When do the men in the white coats take Bonzai Barry to the Happy Home?Maybe he's laying the ground work for an insanity plea at the War Crimes Tribunal? 
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Sieg Heil!! on July 11, 2000 at 11:20:29 PT
Der Vierte Reich
Can anyone say propaganda? It makes me want to get the f#$% out of America.
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: