DRUGS: McCaffrey To Take Anti-Drug Message to the Movies
Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey announced to Congress Tuesday that he plans to extend his anti-drug media campaign to the film industry, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, plans to encourage film makers to incorporate anti-drug messages into their movies, though unlike the ONDCP's controversial " content-for-credit" arrangement, launched in 1998 with TV networks, no financial incentives will be offered. McCaffrey's proposal, which is still in the planning stages, might use taxpayer dollars for "promotional activities and special events that capitalize on the visibility" of films featuring anti-drug themes. But McCaffrey emphasized that "not one cent" would be used to directly finance the films. Instead, financial resources would be used to teach film producers and directors "about how images of substance abuse in the movies impact audiences, especially young audiences," McCaffrey stated.
The Film Empire Strikes Back
McCaffrey's proposal has been met with criticism similar to that faced by his TV network plan -- namely, concerns over the potential for censorship and interference with the creative process or themes that cater to popular culture. Directors Guild Association President Jack Shea said, "The Directors Guild and its members are concerned about abuses of drugs and alcohol in our society and welcome public discussion about this issue. However, it is a longstanding commitment of the DGA to protect the right of individual film makers to allow their visions to be unclouded by any government interference." Jeff Greenwald, a director-producer, added, "It's absurd for the government to try to do this kind of stuff. How about giving rewards for every movie that doesn't have a gunshot in it? We know what violence does to people." Cheryl Rhoden, a spokeswoman for the Writers Guild of America, summed up the argument: "We're concerned about the culture of drug use, but is there an appropriate avenue for our government to get involved? That's the real ethical question" (Hillburg/Whipp, 7/12).