Re "We Can Thank Hollywood for Our Ugly-American Image," Commentary, Jan. 21:
Newt Gingrich and Peter Schweizer's one-dimensional article about Hollywood's contribution to America's image abroad was most enjoyable, but there are several fuzzy details that they fail to define with proper clarity. Do our global neighbors see Americans as overbearing and aggressive in the "let's start an unprovoked war on Iraq" sense, or is there a movie with scenes that are scarier than this scenario?
Does "prone to criminal activity" refer to corporate thieves like those at Enron and other Bush and Cheney cronies who have raped our 401(k) plans, or are they incriminating those rats from "Ocean's Eleven" and their profound effect on the lives of working Americans? Are the "materialistic" Americans the ones backing the latest proposed tax cut for the wealthiest 1% in this country or rascally singers like Madonna, who is clearly a harmful "material girl"?
When Gingrich speaks of sexual immorality, would that be the immorality depicted in "American Pie" or the real-life "leave your current wife for an aide who is 23 years your junior" kind of immorality Gingrich espouses? Shed a little light, Newt. Inquiring minds want to know.
If we gave any foreign teenager photos of Britney Spears and George W. Bush, trust me, Newt, the one they would burn as they chanted "Death to America" wouldn't be the one of Britney. Instead of blaming Hollywood for the "unflattering" image given to the world, the former speaker of the House and his co-writer should look no further than Washington for the unflattering image of violence, criminal activity and sexually immoral behavior.
Maybe when the Bush administration reexamines American public diplomacy efforts overseas as Gingrich and Schweizer recommend, all images of lying, warmongering, thieving, sexually repressed and/or obsessed politicians will be vanquished from the media. Hollywood creates fiction. Washington creates reality (read: the mess we are in). Unfortunately.