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CULTURE DIGEST: Box office slump may correspond to lack of morals; couples no longer marrying ‘until death’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Nearly half of adults are going to the movies less often now than five years ago, and for 19 consecutive weeks motion picture releases have earned less than the year before. If projections are true, the industry will see an 8 percent drop in ticket sales for 2005.

Some folks within the entertainment industry have attributed the box office slump to a lack of added gimmicks necessary to pull in patrons, such as IMAX versions of films or stadium seating. But film critic Michael Medved has a different take.

“Revealingly, none of the studio honchos talked about reconnecting with the public by adjusting the values conveyed by feature films, and replacing the industry’s shrill liberal posturing with a more balanced ideological perspective,” Medved wrote in a July 26 column in USA Today.

“Something clearly changed between 2004 and 2005 to cause an abrupt drop-off at the box office, and the most obvious alteration involved Hollywood’s role in the bitterly fought presidential election,” he added. “The entertainment establishment embraced John Kerry with near unanimity — and bashed George W. Bush with unprecedented ferocity.”

Medved went on to point out that even if a minority of the 62 million Republican voters chose to back off from taking in Hollywood’s newest productions at theaters, it could easily account for the sharp decline in sales after Bush’s re-election.

“Conventional wisdom ignores all ideological considerations in explaining the sudden box office collapse, concentrating instead on purely material excuses (high ticket prices, availability of DVDs) that have, frankly, applied for years,” Medved wrote. “This knee-jerk tendency to offer direct, physical solutions to deep-seated problems constitutes an unmistakable element in the liberal outlook that remains Hollywood’s reigning faith.”

Noting Hollywood’s tendency to ignore the spiritual dimensions of common challenges, such as the root cause of unwanted pregnancies, crime, poverty and terrorism, in favor of superficial “solutions,” Medved said Americans as a whole are not as clueless.

“In Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign, his staff kept focused with the help of a sign: ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ In their campaign to bring back disillusioned moviegoers, Hollywood’s honchos ought to consider similar signs, reminding themselves, ‘It’s the values, stupid,’” Medved concluded.

NO LONGER ‘TIL DEATH DO US PART’ — In a culture where divorce has become commonplace, some couples are now choosing to alter their wedding vows with a loophole in case they decide to bail. Instead of vowing to stay married “as long as we both shall live,” some are saying, “as long as our love shall last.”

Fox News examined the trend July 22, drawing on insight from Sharon Naylor, a New Jersey wedding expert who said the change in vows is a reflection of today’s times, when people know the odds of divorce.

“People understand that anything can happen in life, and you don’t make a promise you can’t keep,” she said. “When people get divorced, they mourn the fact that they said ‘til death do us part’ — you didn’t keep your word in church (if they had a church wedding). Some people are in therapy because they promised ‘til death do us part’ — it is the sticking point in the healing of a broken marriage. The wording can give you a stigma of personal failure.”

Other examples of altered vows include “for as long as our marriage shall serve the greatest good” or “for as long as we continue to love each other.” One groom even requested “until our time together is over,” Naylor said.

William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, told Fox News he was disappointed in the trend.

“It’s a change for the worse. The ‘death do us part’ vow is really unconditional,” Donohue said. “Once you change it to ‘as long as love shall last’ or something of that nature, it’s conditional. It’s almost analogous to a prenuptial agreement — simply saying ‘we hope it works out.’ It goes against the grain of marriage.”

But Betsy Goldberg, features editor for Modern Bride magazine, told Fox News she hasn’t seen the trend pick up among her readers yet.

“The readers we have [are] still going into weddings saying ‘this is forever.’ The majority of people still want to go in believing forever and intending forever. I think [the rest] make up a small percentage,” she said.

SANTORUM BOOK FOCUSES ON FAMILY VALUES — Countering Hillary Clinton’s “It Takes a Village,” U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has released a book titled “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good,” which Reuters called a “conservative manifesto on family and values.”

The Republican senator from Pennsylvania argues that America’s social, moral and cultural problems could be solved more appropriately by the reconstruction of the traditional family than by government intervention.

“It started really [by] focusing on how conservatism works to help those who are less fortunate,” Santorum told Reuters. “And as I got into it, I realized at the core of so many of the problems we’re facing was the breakdown of the family.”

A Roman Catholic, Santorum has been among the more outspoken conservatives in the Senate, leading the fight to keep Terri Schiavo alive, pushing for a federal marriage amendment and supporting the partial-birth abortion ban.

In his book, he asserts that abortion puts the rights of the mother before those of her child just as in earlier times the rights of slave owners superseded those of slaves, according to Reuters.

“But unlike abortion today, in most states even the slaveholder did not have the unlimited right to kill his slave,” Santorum writes.

The senator also addresses the “hostile cultural climate” in which parents must raise their children today, adding that he and his wife closely monitor what their six kids watch on television or explore on the Internet. As an alternative, he encourages them to “get off the chair, get outside and do something, read a book, take a walk, go to church, but don’t sit in front of a screen and veg out.”

    About the Author

  • Erin Curry