McCaffrey, Still Smoking 

  McCaffrey, Still Smoking 

Posted by FoM on July 12, 2000 at 22:02:26 PT
Big Brother is not just a TV show 

If U.S. drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey has his way, it will be all of Hollywood. Speaking before a congressional committee on Tuesday, he outlined plans to sneak government anti-drug messages into motion pictures. That follows three years of slipping similar suggestions into TV shows.Under federal law, broadcasters must sell air time for government anti-drug ads at half price. 
McCaffrey created a windfall for the networks -- and got Washington into the programming business -- by freeing TV stations of this obligation. All they had to do was feature "accurate portrayals of drug-use issues" in their shows.Now McCaffrey proposes federally funded publicity for films that meet Washington's approval.Advertising in entertainment in nothing new. The WB's new teen drama, "Young Americans," is the latest case in point, with stars grabbing for cans of Coca-Cola at every poignant moment.But with product placement, viewers can see an ad for what it is, and competitors are free to promote their product by bidding for the spots.The government, on the other hand, has no competitors, and with the regulatory and spending powers at its disposal, it could chill dissenting viewpoints in entertainment.Under McCaffrey's plan, would a movie that featured a cancer patient using medicinal marijuana, which McCaffrey opposes, be deemed "accurate"? What if the film were anti-drug but also rude or offensive?"Accurate" really means government-sanctioned, and when Big Brother starts to direct its money and regulations at Hollywood, only government-sanctioned messages will find their way to the big screen.Drugs are bad, but so is censorship. Keep the media and state separate.Published: Thursday, July 13, 2000 Copyright: The Daily News Los Angeles OnlineRelated Articles:White House Takes Anti-Drug Message To Hollywood House Wants Films To Add Anti-Drug Messages Czar To Target Film Themes

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