When Hollywood stars testify before Congress, does anything ever get accomplished? Does either the star or his or her interrogators ever come off looking smarter or better informed about the issues?
Yesterday, Nicole Kidman testified before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee. She was seeking funding for a United Nations initiative to thwart violence against women throughout the world via humanitarian grants to local organizations. But all the headlines talked about was her offhand comment, prompted by a Congressman’s fatuous question, in which she appeared to endorse the notion that movie violence has contributed to the real-world violence against women that she is trying to reduce. (See headlines here, here, and here.)
The question by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) deftly shifted the blame onto Hollywood; Kidman was equally deft in deflecting the blame away from herself, insisting that she, at least, doesn’t make the kind of movies that portray women as weak sex objects and targets of violence. (Watch the whole exchange here.) But the damage was done. Not only did the media focus shift to the most tangential part of her testimony, but she seemed to concede a point long argued by censorious types on both the right and the left, that Hollywood violence is somehow responsible for real-world violence. Continue reading