William Faulkner's Old Verities: "It's Planting Time in America"

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Jack Valenti Jack Valenti

Robert J. Myers Robert J. Myers

Introduction

ROBERT J. MYERS, CARNEGIE COUNCIL PRESIDENT: The Louis Nizer Lecture on Public Policy attempts to transform the spirit and insight of Mr. Nizer, so celebrated in his legal cases and personal life, into the public sphere. He was in fact confident of the wider applications of his legal and personal insights into the larger world that he explored with his characteristic zest and enthusiasm. In discussions with Mr. Nizer on this kind of lecture, his initial thought was that he should give the lecture himself. Upon reflection, however, he concluded that a lecture in his honor probably should more appropriately be given by someone else. The someone else, in particular, was Jack Valenti.

In between the idea of the Nizer lectures in October and today was the unforeseen and sad event of Louis Nizer's death. The funeral services on November 13 quite properly focused on his accomplishments, friendships, and family relationships; the celebratory aspect was somewhat muted. Today we want to emphasize the public salience of Louis Nizer's life. We reviewed with him the purpose of the proposed lectures and he agreed to this statement: "The role of law in America's progress as a democratic nation sets the parameters of our civil society. Law promotes and protects the spirit of freedom and the development of the individual against institutions that might threaten this freedom. The Nizer lectures will explore the contribution of law in expressing ethical norms as part of the process through which the American society and the world community evolve toward the full expression of democracy."

Our council's particular interest lies in raising up the interrelationship between national and international issues. As events occurred, I feel fortunate that there was this opportunity to clarify personally with Mr. Nizer the purpose of this tribute. The commitment of the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, in which Mr. Nizer long served as a director, and its president, Dr. Ray Irani, and executive vice president and general counsel, Donald de Brier, were instrumental in creating this lecture series. We also thank Professor Ralph Buultjens, distinguished scholar and close friend of Mr. Nizer, for helping to organize this program.

Jack Valenti is well known to the American public as president of the Motion Picture Association of America, to the political world as confidant and close associate of Lyndon Baines Johnson, and to those of us assembled today as a loyal friend of Louis Nizer. Mr. Valenti will inaugurate the Nizer Public Policy Lecture series with "William Faulkner's Old Verities: It's Planting Time in America."

Remarks

JACK VALENTI: The issues of liberty and the replenishment of community values stirred restlessly within Louis Nizer. He and I talked often about the compass course of the society. We both had read the purifying speech made by William Faulkner when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature on December 10, 1950. Like me, Louis found in Faulkner's words a dark, punishing wisdom, a plain, spare design for civic conduct. It is from Faulkner's vision that what I say tonight has taken wing. I think Louis would approve. Let me begin, then, by admiring this man, Louis Nizer, who has drawn so many of you here tonight.

In the muscular and musical English language, which Louis knew so well, loved so much, and illuminated so elegantly, there exist two words that perfectly describe him.

They are "polymath" and "fidelity."

A polymath is a person of immense learning in many fields. Francis Bacon once said he had taken all knowledge to be his province. For Bacon, this was not an immodest objective. But such were Louis Nizer's vast and diverse talents; he is the only person I know or knew who could come close to matching Francis Bacon. Lawyer, courtroom genius, public speaker, best-selling author, painter, composer, lyricist, historian, counselor to presidents and public officials: he was all of these and more. And in each he performed with exceeding intellect and ascending success.

Fidelity means faithfulness to obligations and observances. Louis Nizer gave special meaning to the word "fidelity." The law in all its glory was the core of his life. It was the reservoir from which his daily tasks drew nourishment.

I first met Louis Nizer almost twenty-nine years ago when he came to visit with me in my office in the White House. I was about to resign as special assistant to the president to become the president of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). He was to become the MPAA general counsel. On that day our paths not only crossed, but became intimately interwoven. Our relationship was forever sealed in friendship and trust.

His long, fruitful life is now over. Death, as it does to every mortal, has finally come to Louis Nizer. I can say that I am very grateful to a beneficent God that I knew Louis so intimately, so gloriously, so lovingly. He was a noble man. There are few of his kind.

I have been fortunate to spend my entire career working in two of life's most fascinating areas, politics and movies. I have worked the political precincts of my native Texas, from city hall to county courthouses to the state capitol. I have been privy to decision making in the White House, at the side of a brave and extraordinary president. And for a long time I have been a member of the creative and executive communities of Hollywood and the world cinema.

Both arenas, movies and politics, spring from the same DNA. Their aims are the same: to entice voters and audiences to yield to their persuasions. What is the value of those persuasions? What is real? What is right? What is truth? Who determines it? Who defines the moral boundaries of the daily grind of a functioning society? How is that society to be governed? How do you shape a foundation to nourish and achieve a nation's prime objective, which is to endure, to prosper, and to always strive to reach for the ascending curve?

These are ancient queries. Answers are available but often they are porous, not given to ready translation. Sometimes they are cast in different shapes to different people. Which answer is true? "What is truth?" asked jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.

I have thought a lot about this, though thinking about these matters is like trying to pick up mercury with a fork. It is maddeningly elusive. But we have to keep trying.

Herodotus tells the story of how the Athenians were so emotionally affected by the drama The Capture of Miletus, by the poet Phrynicus, that they wept openly. When their passions cooled, Athenian officials passed a law forbidding Phrynicus ever again to offer his play to the public. He was fined a thousand drachmas for reminding his fellow citizens of their own sorrows. It is an apt metaphor for our current scene. Nothing so well describes the perversity of political and social conduct or so aptly calls to judgment the resorting to morality by public officials as an instrument of domestic and foreign policy.

It's a dicey political game to play. Like the Athenians, we are deeply involved in that which tugs at both our practical minds and our moral conscience. And like the Athenians, we find the real world, the morning after, not so desirable as we had previously thought.

If morality is a rostrum from which we survey our lives, then it is also a principle on which we stand. Principles, unless one rises above them, are cruelly steadfast. If a principle is ignored or bent, for whatever practical or seemingly rational reasons, then it is no longer a principle. It becomes a weak reed on which we lean at our peril.

So it is that presidents and members of Congress, as well as officials of state and local governments, find themselves dealing with morality according to a "yes, but" logic. If you tried to draw up a catalogue of the good guys and the bad guys, you would wind up judging public officials from the president on down on the same basis as that well-known medieval monarch, Philip the Good, renowned in his time for both the number of his bastards and the piety of his fasts.

It is not surprising, then, that too often our officials in both political parties see issues through their own personal prism. To that end, the historian Procopius wrote about the emperor Justinian: "He didn t think that the slaying of men was murder unless they happened to share his own religious view."

We are now poised for a great debate in this land. It has to do with the reach of government—how wide, how deep. But I daresay the debate will be waged on the wrong platform. Emerson may have gotten it right when he wrote, "God offers to everyone his choice between truth and repose. Take what you please, you can never have both." Emerson is also speaking to this generation.

I am not a pessimist. Never have been. Don't intend to start now. This country did not survive more than two hundred years of cruel disjointing to be undone at this particular moment by discomforts catalogued at length, mainly by TV commentators and political consultants. These are the new political Druid priests. They convince their followers that they alone are capable of inspecting the entrails of a pig and therefore are in sole possession of the vision that will lead to proper decisions.

But this scrambling, unquiet, violent time is one of the rare moments in our history when those who govern and those who are governed are in concert. We are all dealing with fear.

Fear is the scarlet thread that runs through the nation, into its marrow. Fear of tomorrow; fear of losing one's job; fear that children face an uncertain future; fear of crime; fear that the old bindings that held the nation tgether are snapping. In too many cities there are too many broken homes, too much crazy drug use and users, too many guns in the hands of children, too many babies having babies. There is abandonment of the church, loss of family ties, schools without discipline, life without hope, anger fed by imagined slights and bigotry.

Therefore, let us begin with William Faulkner. In his speech in 1950, he cited what he called "the old universal verities and truth of the heart, the old universal truth lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed—love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice." He might have added "and duty and loyalty and service to one's family and friends and country."

It is seemingly necessary these days to resent what is suggested, to deride what is planned, to mistrust what is offered, and to disbelieve what is said. Mainly this is so because Faulkner's old verities have been caged and covered and put away. But they have weight because they are what an enduring nation is all about. Old fashioned words? Yes, they are. But words that have sustained themselves in myth and reality are never out of date. These words describe neither religion nor ideology nor political affiliation. No group or faction or political party has a monopoly on interpreting their meaning.

Faulkner's verities represent a code of conduct between human beings, between the citizen and the state, between neighbors, friends, and associates. They are better guides than a political poll or the blathering of demagogues or those earnest folks who insist that they alone possess God's wisdom. When I encounter self-designated human repositories of Divine Truth, I remember an old southern prayer: "Dear Lord, let me seek the truth, but spare me the company of those who have found it." Nice prayer. I say it often.

So, we begin with Faulkner's proposition that there are universal verities. Without them we are barren of aim or cause or reason. Or as Faulkner said, without them we "labor under a curse."

Government cannot and ought not be a national nanny, the custodian of our faith, the sanctified arbiter of our lives. Each citizen must be responsible for his or her actions: fathers, mothers, sons, daughters. Parents must be responsible for their children, adults responsible for their decisions, and young people responsible for what they do. Playing "victim" or copping a plea that "the Devil made me do it" are mocking charades. The foolish listen to the dunces and the dimwits lead the mob.

Taking responsibility for one's life, and actions, does not mean turning away from the helpless and the hopeless. What it does mean is that if there is not a civic commitment to individual responsibility, the future is pockmarked with detours and disappointment. But we must be wary in the months ahead. Strenuous efforts will be made to curtail the national government's aid to those pressed against the wall because of circumstances over which they have no control. It would be tragic to do that. It would be worse than a crime. It cannot be allowed to happen. "No man is fit to govern great societies," said Lord Macaulay, "who hesitates about disobliging the few who have access to him for the sake of the many whom he will never see."

To give Faulkner's old verities a communal reality, we have to begin within the family. Parents must care enough, believe enough, and do enough to begin the process. Parents, sufficiently armed with passion, can do the most.

We must also pay zealous attention to teachers and schools. We have to be willing to fund first-class public education or it will continue to be lousy. We can t build enough prisons, wield enough judicial sabers, or legislate enough tough death penalty laws to compensate for the collapse of discipline in the classroom, the graduation from high school of too many who can t read or write, or the total loss of Faulkner's verities. In a time when our national obligations are larger than our capacity to fulfill them, our leaders must make it clear—painful, discomforting, and frustrating as the task may be—that we have to reinstall the family and the school and the church as the central teaching centers for young people. We have to begin the journey back into ourselves before we can go forward into our future. Too idealistic? Too namby-pamby? Too impossible? "Yes" to all of those descriptions if you think a society can just amble along and keep its liberties alive when so many of its core convictions are in a state of decay. I don't. Every day liberty must be guarded, because like virtue it is every day besieged.

Why, then, am I optimistic? Because all things are always in flux. Nothing lasts forever, neither triumph nor tragedy nor the omissions of the human spirit. As long as we understand who we are, why we are what we are, and how we became so, we will always be able to know where it is that we ought to turn and where we must go. Of course, this requires a national conviction. Without conviction, it has been said, a man or a woman will be right only by accident.

President Kennedy supposedly told the story of a French general in Algeria who wanted to plant a special kind of tree to line the road to his chateau. "But, mon general," protested his gardener, "that tree takes one hundred years to bloom." The general smiled and said, "Then we have no time to lose. Start planting today."

It's planting time in America. Faulkner's old verities will take root again much sooner than the general's trees.

Questions and Answers

QUESTION: What is your view of the influence of the media-entertainment industry, positive or negative, on the verities that you alluded to?

JACK VALENTI: Well, I would say this: I think it does have an impact. Keep in mind that every time you make a movie you start a brand new enterprise that never existed before. Last year, the major studios put out 141 movies. I don't know which one of them had the most impact. Add to that independent production with 520 movies produced in this country as well as the 75 to 80 imported from abroad. The fact is, twenty-four million people a week go to the movies, a hundred million people a day watch television.

What has the most impact upon society? I don't know. But, I want to tell you what I just said to the creative community—writers, directors, producers, actors. I told the creative community I don't know what the impact is. But why don't we assume that what we put on the screen in a darkened theater and what comes out of the television set, sometimes unbidden and uninvited, does have an impact, and therefore each of you who is a director, a writer, or a producer must be responsible for what you create?

I must tell you that I am passionate about the First Amendment. It is the least ambiguous clause in the Constitution. In spare, unadorned prose, it says exactly what it means, and I don't want anybody tormenting that First Amendment, which gives me the right to tell somebody the story that I tell. But I also tried to tell them that the rights of one man end where the rights of another man begin. Therefore, you cannot disconnect your stories from the society and say, well, I want to make some money, I'll say this or that or the other. That's wrong. But, on the other hand, if you want to do that, the audience will say to you, enough. If you have cable, and you don't like what's coming in on some of its pay services, you have the most beautiful remedial action in the world. Don't subscribe to it! And it's gone. If you leave the house, and while you're gone, the children are there, you should do what my wife and I used to do. We put in a special switch. We have a lock on it and we turn that TV set off when we leave home. There's no way the children can get into it because we have only one key. And even my children, blessedly perfect as they are, didn't know how to turn it on without the key.

Let me tell you what counts. If you don't care what your children are watching, if you think that the ratings system is going to be a surrogate parent, you're dead wrong. All we try to do in the movie industry, in the rating system that I invented, is to give some advance cautionary warning to parents. We don't say we know how to raise your children. I don't want my neighbors telling me how to raise my kids, and I'm not going to impress on them how they ought to raise theirs. Therefore, Mr. and Mrs. X, if you don't care about your kid, don't blame the movie industry and don't blame television, because I will tell you, nothing will salvage the future of that child. That is the circuitous answer to a very complex question. I feel very strongly about it, and there are lots of things in movies I find profane and vulgar and untenable, but I know the best way to deal with that is not to see them.

QUESTION: What are some of the big steps you would suggest we take to alleviate the problems that are tearing our society apart?

AJACK VALENTI: That's a very good question. It's very easy to write plans on paper, because paper offers little resistance. I will tell you it has to begin in the home. It has to begin with citizens recognizing that if they're going to begin now to plant that tree that doesn't bloom for maybe a decade, then they're going to have to spend the money that's required to build a good school system.

If you ask me, the two things that are leading to the collapse of this country are the abandonment of the church and the absolute decay of our public school systems. As one who has been visiting some of the schools in Washington, DC—and I don't want to point to Washington because it's no better or worse than any other big city—I can say it's a desolating thing. Your heart breaks. I sent my children to Madeira and to St. Alban's and paid a small fortune to have them educated. I happen to be lucky because I have a few dollars left over after I pay my taxes. I would love to pay more taxes if I thought that we'd pour that money into public schools, that we'd build some of the infrastructure and then begin to put teachers in there who are trained and bring some discipline back to the schools. To do that we have to take painful steps.

We've got to get the parents involved. It has to begin at the lowest level, at the beginning level. If it was easy to do, it would have been done a long time ago. We in America are looking for quick fixes. That's why you ve got states passing all these death penalty laws. We're a long way from ever doing something about why people commit crimes. I'm not a social zealot, and I'm not saying that it's poverty doing this, but somewhere along the way the child grows up without the comfort and the love and the affection and the caring of parents. If he goes to school, he doesn t give a damn, and he doesn't know anything about church because church is abandoned. How do you expect that child to grow up? Maybe we're lucky that we don't have gangs around here, right now, pillaging this area. Maybe the only way that good middle-class or upper-class Americans can ever get really infused with something is when that beast is slouching toward them, knocking on their door.

QUESTION: You said toward the beginning of your lecture that politics and movies are derived from the same "DNA." It occurs to me that in the last thirty years the only president who served two full terms was Ronald Reagan, who was a movie star. Is there any connection there?

JACK VALENTI: I don't know what the specific connection is. I said they were born of the same "DNA" because both politician and actor are performers. I'm performing for you right now. I'm trying to impress you with my arguments, to have you say, "Yes, I think there's something there." An actor tries to perform to make you believe that his character has meaning and substance. Whether you hate him or you love him, he has to keep his fingers on the pulse of the public. The politician must do that. And the people in Hollywood must know what the public likes so that they can offer it.

QUESTION: You were recently involved in the GATT negotiations, particularly with France. The French claimed that we are invading their culture with our portrayals of violence and sex and all the things we are used to. Do you think the French are sincere about this, or is it a ploy to keep us out of their business?

JACK VALENTI: I do not want to get into a public controversy with my good friends in France. I wear very proudly a scarlet ribbon. That scarlet ribbon is the Légion d'honneur awarded to me by President Mitterrand. I'm proud of that. As one who has read deeply in French literature, I care very much about France. I think what is going on in France is an earnest effort to protect their culture and at the same time another effort to increase commerce. Our business is art wedded to commerce, and what Hollywood has joined together, let no man tear asunder. It is an unholy marriage, it's true. So, there's a little bit of both. On one hand, the French are very zealous about their language; on the other, I tell my French friends that English in this country is dripping in French words—limousine, rapport, denouement. So, what's the difference?

Maybe it's a good thing for languages to be reinvigorated with other languages. The fact is that American films are highly popular. But what if I told you that of the ten most popular films in the world today, only about four are what we call violent. I'm talking about Forrest Gump, The Lion King, E.T., movies like that, the all-time favorites in this world.

Movies are like neighborhoods. It's a wonderful neighborhood we live in, but over there is a child molester, and over there is a fellow who is embezzling from his bank, but we don't know about it, and down there is the fellow who abuses his wife and children. That doesn't make the whole neighborhood odious and beyond the pale. It merely says that in every area where there is Wall Street or banking or whatever, there are also those living on the edge. As I've said, I've found a lot of films intolerable. I think some of them are squalid. On the other hand, there are a lot of people I feel the same way about. But I do not think that the United States of America generally is of that complexion. As far as France is concerned, I will bow and smile and look charming and say no more about it.

QUESTION: If I may speak for the audience, whether we're middle class or not or from this area or not, we feel that the movie industry is not doing nearly enough to—I don't want to say influence—but to help along your causes: the home, the church, and morality. I enjoyed your oration, but I think your reliance on the First Amendment may be a little bit of a cop-out. I think the movie industry should do more, as my fellows here seem to agree, to reduce the guns and violence that obviously appeal to many of the younger movie-goers who comprise a large part of your audience. Do you have any comment? Don't you think you could do more than you are doing?

JACK VALENTI: First, we have to define what the movie industry is. You see, to some of us over the age of forty, the movie industry that we're talking about is interred in Forrest Lawn Cemetery. It died in 1950 when the Justice Department—and by the way, if there's a villain, it is the Justice Department, because in 1950 it said the movie industry was violating antitrust laws—forced the studios to divest themselves either of their theaters or their productions. Before that, seven studios owned all the theaters in this country.

My predecessor, Will Hayes, was able to impose a draconian code, which literally had a catalogue of do's and don'ts because the major studios owned all the theaters. If you were a director and you wanted to make a movie that didn't fit that code, you could make your movie, but you couldn't play it anywhere. It was a violation of the antitrust law, no question about it. But the power of the studios was forever shattered by that Supreme Court decision.

Today, what is the industry? It is a fragmented tribe of five or six hundred production companies, about sixteen to thirty distribution companies. No studio has any actors, writers, or directors under contract. You can't make Arnold Schwarzenegger or Steven Spielberg do what they don't want to do. All the studios do is help finance the pictures and distribute them. But if a studio turns down your picture, you go to one of the other distribution companies and then you take your film to a theater. What I'm trying to tell you is, if I were a dictator, and the studios said we give you the power to do anything you want, I'd be dealing with a highly fragmented industry that isn t like it used to be, and we have to understand that.

Now, I've got to take one small issue with you. I do think the First Amendment is important, because when a tyrant first appears, he comes as your protector. The Mussolinis and the Hitlers first came as protectors. "I will make the trains run on time. I will bring order." Goethe once wrote that people fear disorder more than they do injustice. I believe that. So the minute that you tear down the First Amendment you give governments the power to suppress opinions. And I will tell you this—there is no price that you can pay for that. What does the First Amendment mean? It means if you're going to make this democracy work you must accept, along with the rational, the reasonable, the responsible, the snsible, the meretricious, the profane, and the squalid and that which tears your guts out. Otherwise you don't have the First Amendment. I am willing to accept these intrusions with serrated edges that draw moral blood as long as no one in this country can say, I will protect you and let me lay aside habeas corpus and let me lay aside the First Amendment and bring order to your disorderly lives.

I'm not copping out. If I could do what you wanted me to do, I would do it. But I still would want people to be able to tell a story and let the public make its judgment about what it wants. Let me ask you a question. Why can t you take command of your own life and say I'm not going to see that crap? And if enough people say that, it won t be made. Why do you think the Power Rangers are so popular? Because the kids want them, so the parents go and buy them. The minute you stop buying them, they're out of business. So I throw it back to you. You're copping out, you're allowing diseased things to get into your society, and you're not doing a damn thing about it.

QUESTION: I believe that the abandonment of our churches has happened because we have a new church called television, which is now the chief arbiter of our morals, and that our intense focus on material things is at the heart of the crime problem. I have an idea that we need an alternative channel, a public channel, which I call the "Wisdom Channel," but which somebody can call something better. And on that channel would be the greatest thinkers. They would put commercials in the form of great ideas, like respect—you get some, give some. Without churches, without schools, where is the forum for talking about morals in a way that won t promote ridicule? I think people are hungry for wisdom. How do you put together the money for a "Wisdom Channel"?

JACK VALENTI: Do you know what you are talking about when you say, "Why is this on television?" Because people like you are watching it. And Nielsen is saying you're watching it. You see, there is a wise expression: Whenever you are pointing your finger at someone, three of your fingers are pointing back at you. You are part of the group, and that includes me and everybody else, that dictates what should go on television. If you turn it off, I don't know whether you re a Nielsen—there are only about two thousand in the country—turn it off and let the advertisers know that you re not going to buy their product as long as they put out such swill as this. Because at bottom it's all because of economics, how many people, how many eyeballs are watching the programs which then get a higher rate for commercials and so forth.

As far as pay channels are concerned, if you don't want them, cancel your subscription. But I'm saying nothing is going to happen until there is a rebellion by the people saying turn it off. Now, we've got public broadcasting, and they have wonderful things on there, but I don't even want to tell you what the ratings on those shows are during prime time; you will start weeping if I tell you. I'm just saying this country deserves what it gets. If you don't like your leaders, you deserve them because you probably voted for them. So I'm just saying when people start one at a time, with passion and zeal, and begin to argue, after a while, like Chinese water torture, it begins to make an impression. And those corporations and those networks begin to listen. In my own industry, which I represent with great pride because I'm pleased with most of what comes out of Hollywood, they respond.

Before the early fifties, we all glamorized America, glamorized stars, and we had kind of a raison d'être based on films. We identified with these people. And then the world changed and things seemed to become kind of destructive. And I think that the films fed all that. They fed the lessening of our objectives and the lessening of our culture and the lessening of our reasons for being. And you don't see that as much in England; the English still see educational films and they still have a education channel. They look at gardening and they look at cultural things. We don't. We don't because our films haven't taught us to do this. We don't teach our kids how to do this when they're young. We teach them a sort of gutter talk. This is now the culture of America, because we are teaching them that this is culture. Is it? If that's what we want it to be, then we're doing a good job. But if we want a higher level, then the responsibility is almost to take that on.

I think I tried to speak to that earlier. I don't know what can be done in a fragmented industry with no one person commanding it as in 1950. The reason why those movie stars were bigger than life was because they were under contract.

QUESTION: That's not my point. My point is this: I don't doubt that Forrest Gump is a good film; I liked the Lion King. I think we can point to dozens of movies that are in one way or another interesting and cultural. They may even teach a lesson. But there are millions of dollars spent every year on things that have three-quarters empty film. And nobody goes to see them. I can't imagine the wisdom, the financial wisdom, and the capability of the people who are making these films. There must be millions of dollars churned out every year on films that are shown for two weeks of play in the movies.

JACK VALENTI: Unhappily, you're right. In his early days of film, Samuel Goldwyn had a great line. Somebody said he ought to educate the American public. He said, "If you want to send a message, call Western Union." Samuel Goldwyn said the story is the thing wherein you will catch the conscience of the king. You have to deal in dramatic narrative to tell a story.

In my favorite all-time movie—I've seen it literally fifteen to twenty times, I know the lines of all the actors—there is not one bit of profanity, not one act of violence, not one even modest sexual scene. It's called A Man for All Seasons. It's the greatest film ever made in my judgment. But what makes it great is conflict, drama. The only film I've ever criticized in public was Oliver Stone's JFK, which I thought to be a tissue of lies from frame one to the end of the movie. I castigated him on the front page of the New York Times. But let me tell you something, film is the hardest of all the art forms in which to achieve excellence. It is so difficult to do that if I knew the formula I would quit what I m doing and make excellent films.

The movie industry has put out things that have created controversy and gotten intelligent people stirring and talking and doing things about education, about a lot of things in this country. I think moral issues should be put back into the schools, into education. I don't want you educating my children. I want to see that power put back into schools. I think we're throwing a lot of power and influence to the film industry that it may already have, but I would prefer that the film industry be an entertainment industry and not a moral power.

I think the time has come for all of us, including me, to stop complaining. We are responsible for what we are, and to blame movies or books or music for the ailments that plague and ravage this society I think is wrong. Each citizen has to decide what is right for his children. If you re unable to instill in your children the kind of social values, the foundation of morality from which their lives must spring, then I can promise you this: All the educational channels in the world, all the movies unblighted by any of the things you consider corrosive, are not going to save that child. I keep coming back to that, keep coming back to basics. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves." I believe that. This is Shakespeare. What he has written has lasted for over four hundred years.

I want to thank all of you. I enjoyed hearing what you've had to say. I'm sometimes instructed by it, and I'm always impressed by it. Thank you.

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