End of a Bad Movie

Along the lines of my recent post wondering at the lionization of Boris Yeltsin after his death, I bring you my perverse, open-mouthed wonder at the media reactions to the demise of Jack Valenti, Hollywood strong-man, censor, corporate defender, and intellectual pirate.

He was 85, he had a stroke, he's dead. It's a shame. But who was he? "A voice of reason," quoth NPR. A man who "helped to usher American cinema into a new era of permissiveness that spoke to the changing values of a country of movie lovers," says Steven Spielberg, whose own movies were almost censored by the man. Even Nancy Pelosi got in on the game, calling him a "true patriot," who's "brilliant career was marked by excellence, humanity, and humor."

So they say. Maybe he was a nice guy. I never met him. What I do know, is that his strong-armed lobbying and media-warping techniques not only propped up LBJ's Vietnam War, but his MPAA regime is responsible for the political game that is "R" ratings, he has single-handedly defended the bizarre "Intellectual Property" argument through horribly misconceived legislation such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (a dictate that makes it illegal for you to take your own DVD player apart), and he has systematically destroyed the notion of a variety of consumer and small-business rights by siding with large corporations in lawsuits for the past 30-some years.

I mean, come on. This is a guy who equated recording video tapes with rape and murder. "I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." He said that in front of Congress! What a jerk.

I would never be happy at the death of a human being. I just don't roll that way. But I certainly think that it is horrible that certain people spend their entire lives making life and society worse for other humans who didn't do anything to them. And that other people stand by and applaud, saying, "Oh, he's just doing his job."

Let's just say this: I for one am very excited that Jack Valenti can never be the president of the MPAA ever again.

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