A Tinseltown Tipper Tantrum?

tipper gore from SUNDAY MORNING aug 13 2000
Tipper Gore will introduce her husband at the Democratic National Convention tonight in what's expected to be a personal testimony to the vice president as a loving husband and father.

But the "back story," as they say in Hollywood, is that Gore's wife as well as his running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, have caused some grousing among those in the entertainment industry who reside in the convention host city. Some fear the two could use the bully pulpit of the White House to strengthen their moral crusade to clean up records, television, and films.

In 1985, Tipper Gore pushed Congress to enact parental warning labels on music records, a move that caused a storm of protest from musicians who cried censorship.

Sen. Lieberman, who has called himself a "culture warrior" in published reports, was involved in the effort that led to the creation of the V-chip, which allows consumers to monitor offensive television programming.

"As a consequence, the people in Hollywood who might be proclaiming (the ticket) unqualifyingly Â… are grumbling," said Martin Kaplan, director of the University of Southern California's Norman Lear Center, a public policy center that studies the convergence of entertainment, commerce, and society.

Though Gore has called his wife his closest adviser (she favored the choice of Lieberman), Kaplan does not expect a Gore Administration to drastically alter the current legislation.

"They might make it more central to their rhetoric, but I'd be very surprised if it became a regulative concern," he said. Instead, a Gore-Lieberman administration might use its power to influence self-regulation in the entertainment industry. "The threat of lifting up the sledgehammer is often enough," Kaplan added.

Danny Goldberg, president of Artemis Records and a board member of the ACLU of Southern California, is less optimistic. He saw the push to regulate music content in the mid-80's as a turning point in the "cultural disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country."

Goldberg believes the conservative tide in government will hurt Democrats more, because it will keep younger voters from the polls. "The culture that's attacked is always that of young people," he said. Also, sees little difference between the two major parties when it comes to their criticism of popular culture. Yet he has contributed to Gore's campaign and considers himself a Democrat.

That's where this script cuts to the chase, as they say. Hollywood liberals know they have nowhere else to go.

For their part, the Democrats have kept quiet on these issues this week. In his Wednesday night speech, Lieberman made one oblique reference to Tipper Gore's efforts, saying, "Long before it became popular, Al and Tipper Gore led a crusade to renew the moral center of this nation."

And it's no surprise Mrs. Gore has backed away from her followers at the Parents Music Resource Center, whch she helped mobilize in the mid-80's. In recent years, she has used her position to promote advocacy for mental health care and homelessness.

Kaplan, who's also a former vice president at Disney Studios, said politicians, like entertainers, are ultimately motivated by perceived public perceptions.

"They're both in occupations that are driven by celebrity, fame, marketing, and box office," he said. For politicians, "the election box is the box office."