Congresswoman From LA Wants State Dept. To Promote American Movies At US Embassies

from the for-the-American-way dept

Eric Goldman was kind enough to alert us to the fact that Rep. Diane Watson, who just so happens to represent the part of Los Angeles where MGM Studios (now owned by Sony Pictures) is based, is proposing a new law that would require U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide to promote American movies. The article lists an incorrect number for the bill, but you can read the correct bill here, including the part about how embassy and consulate libraries would be required to hold “Johnny Grant Film Series,” where they would be required to show movies that highlight American culture. Johnny Grant being, of course, the honorary mayor of Hollywood. The official reason for the bill is that this would somehow help convince the world that America isn’t evil, though apparently helping to promote Hollywood movies is, well, just gravy. Then, of course, there are those who might suggest that a big part of the reason that the US has a negative reputation in much of the world is its efforts to thrust American culture on everyone else, whether they want it or not.

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Comments on “Congresswoman From LA Wants State Dept. To Promote American Movies At US Embassies”

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dorpus says:

as opposed to?

You mean other countries do not openly promote their interests through their embassies? Have you lived in Washington DC?
Our politicians are influenced by foreign embassy propaganda, whether the rabble realize it or not. The people who insist such things don’t happen are those who are, in fact, more vulnerable to its effects.

Anonymous Coward says:

murder still illegal?

..cuz if it’s not give me this congresswoman’s address and I’ll rid the world of one less complete moron in a position of power.

America is hated because we’re greedy war mongering fatasses. We can’t but help going around sticking our nose into everyone else’s affairs all the while chanting “We’re number 1.” Hard to respect a country where in only 200 odd years, versus the oh.. 4,000 of recorded history everywhere else, we’ve gone from wanting the government to control almost nothing in our lives, to having them tell us how to do everything but breathe. Although in some cities the local news likes to tell you to stay indoors and don’t mow the lawn because “it’s smoggy,” then follow up with the latest government study on how green house gasses are going to kill us all with acid rain. Basically what I’m trying to get across is a bunch of pissed of people at their “government” risked everything they had to get freedom from a tyrannical theocracy and in 200 years we’ve managed to just about do a 360. The world hates us, and for good reasons, showing them Brokeback Mountain isn’t going to help the situation.

Cixelsid says:

Re: murder still illegal?

While I don’t completely disagree with what you’ve written, being a European I don’t really see the problem with showing American movies in American Embassies. It might even start a trend 😉 French Embassies play French movies, Spanish Embassies play Spanish movies and so on ans so forth. If you were thinking of going out, you could then have your picking of the cultural influence you’d prefer for that evening. Feel like some Indian? Lets go to the Bollywood ‘Bassy. What about some Chinese? Kung Fu Konsulate it is.

Should be interesting to see the end result though… will they be charging an entrance fee? People could end up swarming to the Embassies instead of the Theatres. The world could turn into a better place because we understood each other’s cultures better. And this is probably the point where the MPAA will put its foot down and start whining about its part of the lion’s share.

Just a plain coward says:

Re: murder still illegal?

I think you meant to say, “…we’ve managed to just about do a 180.” Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, otherwise.

Can’t say that I agree with you, however. The U.S. does have its problems (most due, in some way, to lawyers), but so does every other country on the face of the planet. The U.S. is just the only one that seems to enjoy digging up dirt about itself; all the other countries would rather blame somebody else — like the U.S. — for all their problems.

I do agree, however, that showing a “Brokeback Mountain” marathon probably won’t win a lot of support (except, maybe, in Europe…). “Baywatch” reruns would probably be a better plan.

GoblinJuice says:

Re: murder still illegal?

In 200 years, we’ve done more than those fuckers in the rest of the world did in 4,000.

Look at the Native Americans. They were hear for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and they didn’t do jackshit.

The Evil White Man came along and… *sweeps hand around room* …24/7 pr0n, food on demand, and all the other trappings of modern life.

We – the Western World – are hated because we kick sooo much ass and the rest of the world knows it.

Yes, we are greedy – we want better lives for ourselves and our children.

No, we are not a warmongering people – but we will whoop your ass if ya fuck with us and/or our interests.

Yes, we do have a bit of a weight problem – because we’ve been so goddamn successful. Sorta like a dude with a 50″ plasma TV has a problem.

The world doesn’t hate America. The world hates the fact that they AREN’T America.

United States of America – Kicking Ass, Taking Names

Norman619 (profile) says:

Re: murder still illegal?

A weight problem is a sign of how well that country is doing. I’d take worry about my weight over worry about suicide bombers any day of the week. The original poster is just showing how ignorant he is. I bet his country would be begging for our help if someone came into their playground started whooping up on them. It’s funny. If we were “war mongers” then why aren’t we in Africa and kicking some ass? That place is ripe for a real war. Because there’s nothing in Africa that we have a vested interest in. A better question would be why hasn’t YOUR country stepped up and done something about all the innocents being slaughtered in Africa? Oh yeah you are waiting fo rthe US to step in first so you can talk more shit THEN begg to be allowed to proffit from the conflict. STFU

NeutralMe says:

Re: Re: murder still illegal?

There’s always one Jarhead about that insists that the people secretly want the Americans to help them out – if the US doesn’t help in the first place there is no crisis later on that requires major military action later on (check up on who financed, trained and equipped the opponents of the US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past), and all in the name to get more burgers. Why is the US not in Africa? Because they got their Arses kicked badly there and went out of there very fast since there is not a single friendly country within a thousand miles around it that would support a military strike there – though there are riches to be had in Africa and you can bet your Ass that Bush and his war mongers have their greedy little pig eyes on that target already, just as soon as they blackmailed enough allied support…
Let the embassies play the movies – that’ll give the Agencies a chance to take even more details about the citizens of other countries when they have to enter the building to view the material – like DNA, fingerprints. And with any luck they can foil a heinous plot and get a detailed confession of a fictional crime which can be extracted over many years in an isolated prison outside any legal duristrictions and under duress… Why should anybody fear or hate the US? Ridiculous…

astarre says:

Re: Re: Re: murder still illegal?

…oh yeah…blah blah blah blah. I sure am sick of the pervasive anti-American sentiment on this blog. I love reading the articles but when losers try to hijack the conversation and spout their political BS…well…it just ruins things. Take that crap to a blog where it belongs.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

No Reason Why Not

Embassies do serve a cultural function. Other countries use theirs in this way, why not the US?

Up to now USian culture hasn’t need this kind of boost, but we live increasingly in a multilateral world, with economic and cultural power growing in many areas. Even Hollywood has noticed this: remember the issue over the famous “Superman” line of “truth, justice and the USian way”, which was watered down in the last “Superman” movie to something like “truth, justice and all that stuff”. All to appeal to a more international audience.

Simon (profile) says:

Yeah, why not?

I’m not American, and this doesn’t bother me. The local US Embassy hosts some really interesting presentations relevant to my profession, with some well-known and respected presenters.

I don’t see much of a difference between doing that and promoting American movies – Embassies of other countries promote their movies all the time, here. (OK, there’s an argument that everyone already knows about Hollywood movies, that Hollywood is a big business that doesn’t need govt assistance, whereas maybe Brazilian (say) films do – but overall I don’t really see a problem with this).

Scott Palacios says:


If elected officials are going to sell the US, try something other than entertainment… From a macro-level, this amounts to sharing of the culture of a single city-Los Angeles. The US is more than just the crap that comes out of Los Angeles, and the sooner the Yes-Men in DC figure it out, the better off we’ll be.

Jack Sombra says:

The problem here is not US embassies promoting US movies , the problem is she is trying to pass a law that would make it illegal for them not to.

Aka illegal for the US foreign services to not act a marketing department for one particular industry (has nothing to do with promoting US culture that would only be a side effect and probably not a good one).

Bob Jones says:

I know the British embassy in the US has all sorts of cultural things, no doubt mostly on the Queen, but can you image if every US embassy in the world had shrines and posters of Paris Hilton?

I’d expect even more violence in the Middle East as a result, “She is showing ankle! Get that American skank!”, not to mention their reaction when two guys get it on Brokeback Mountain style – I somehow doubt they’d find their feminine side, as she is at home locked up with the camel.

Anonymous Coward says:

gratz to people with a brain

Yes, 360 would mean a full circle. Going from a complete dictatorship ruled by a man put into power for relgious reasons, to a free independant state, back to square one. The 180 being when the constitution was put into effect, every state respected their own interestes, and the federal goverment was basicaly in charge of just printing a federal currecny and protecting our borders.

And for the iggnorant coward who probably has never set a foot outside his own suburb, the world doesn’t hate us because we’re materialistic, they hate us because we rape their countries to futher our own means.

Unknown says:

quoted from NeutralMe: “Why is the US not in Africa? Because they got their Arses kicked badly there and went out of there very fast since there is not a single friendly country within a thousand miles around it that would support a military strike there – though there are riches to be had in Africa and you can bet your Ass that Bush and his war mongers have their greedy little pig eyes on that target already, just as soon as they blackmailed enough allied support…”

It’s amazing that you say that because chances are if we didn’t step into WWII Africa would be part of the Nazi Regime now and the majority of Africans would be laying in some ditch somewhere (not that they aren’t already with the kind of government they have running over there now). I mean what if Rwanda promoted “Hotel Rwanda” in their embassy or “Blood Dimond” was promoted in Zimbabwe Embassies? Now I know both of those are American films but, they represent very true stories about the countries. Let me some this up for you in one my favorite quotes “No one cares about Africa”.

astarre says:

Re: Re:

Unfortunately I think Cornholio above was referring to Mogadishu (Somalia) when he was talking about the US getting their collective ass handed to them. What anyone fails to mention is that the forces on the ground were hogtied by US (and world) public opinion and it kept them from receiving the support that it needed to kick some skinny ass. Then again, I what I don’t understand is how the Mog was referred to ass a loss when the US lost about 18 troops vs. 1000+ Somalis. And that’s not even counting the wounded. Anyway…My two cents…flame on.

Anonymous Coward says:

First of all my country, which you seem to assume is not America, is America. However, let me be more specific in saying its the United States, because America is everything from Alaska down to the tip of Chile Argentina. I say we’re fatasses because over half of the population has a weight problem. I say we’re war mongers because we’ve yet to have a period where our troops aren’t actively engaged in some form of conflict. WWII we didn’t even get involved in until our own soil was attacked; frankly we didn’t give a damn up until then. We won’t go into Africa because we have no need to. Africa is conflict ridden enough, and there’s hardly any country there economically or militarily strong enough to start interfering with our government’s agenda. Besides the American people don’t want to get involved in another guerrilla war.

Look at most of the past wars or conflicts and it’s pretty easy to see why we get involved. The “war” in Iraq (“war” because there’s still never been a declaration of war from Congress) started for several reasons. The first was because they were considering switching to the Euro. Second, because we wanted Saddam out of power (even though we put him there in the first place), and third, because we wanted to control the oil fields. The US dollar is still the currency of the world. Major drug deals, arms trafficking, international stock exchanges (for the most part), etc are still done in US currency. The C-note is the US’s largest export. If Iraq, and the subsequent oil companies, started to use the Euro instead, the value of the dollar would drop drastically faster than it already is.

Look at Central and Southern America. Most of the government leaders are corrupt, which brings about conflict between nations. Every country excluding Brazil, speaks the same language; all of them for the most part have the same religion. If their governments could all get together they’d replace the US as the agricultural strongman in the world economy. So we do things like the IRAN-CONTRA scandal. Have the CIA murder revolutionaries like Che Guevara, and let the UFC (United Fruit Company) seize land from natives.

The list goes on and on and if you truly care to educate yourself about how invasive the US is in the rest of the world’s affairs you can easily see why most people hate us. Most Americans are good people, hard working, and family community oriented. Sadly our government has never been able to reflect that to the rest of the world. Having just as a corrupt institution as Hollywood try to dissuade anyone’s belief of it otherwise, through the very channels that the world has tuned out, sure as hell won’t help fix any of that.

GoblinJuice says:

Re: Re:

Iraq, blah, blah, blah. War for oil, blah, blah, blah. United Fruit Company, blah, blah, blah.

*rolls eyes*

Here’s a quote for ya: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

You can torture yourself by trying to watch the “rough men” do their dirty work or you can be happy and enjoy your life. Your choice.

As for me, I’m going to have lunch, watch FoxNews and probably play a game. 🙂 You get back to listening to the Chomsky lecture!

SailorRipley says:

Re: Re: Re:

“FoxNews”: no surprise there “*rolls eyes*”

how right were we, with all those rough men standing ready to do violence on our behalf, to peaceably sleep on 9/10 ?

and I thought we have been sleeping peaceably since 9/11 because of all those freedoms we “voluntarily” gave up since…

“you can torture…” you mean like our government is doing in Guantanamo and numerous other places?

“As for me, I’m going to have lunch, watch FoxNews and probably play a game. :-)”

by all means, go right ahead and maybe someday, you can yell the “wir haben es nicht gewusst” excuse

moonbattery says:

The braying continues unabated

“Then, of course, there are those who might suggest that a big part of the reason that the US has a negative reputation in much of the world is its efforts to thrust American culture on everyone else, whether they want it or not.”

I never did understand this line of reasoning. America can not “thrust American culture on everyone else, whether they want it or not.” That does not actually make any sense. What happens is this: We make a movie, or a restaurant, or some cultural artifact. It sells well here. Business people in other countries think “That’s pretty interesting, maybe it will sell here too”. So they buy it and sell it there. Some of the people in those countries say, “Gee this looks interesting, I think I’ll buy it.” and so they buy it. A lot of people do that and the product sells well. NOTE: America has not “Forced” this on them, but they bought it because they wanted to try it out and see what it is. Most often they like it and so the product sells well. But, then the moonbats start their eerie chanting … “Cultural Imperialism… Cultural Imperialism…” which makes no sense at all, but sounds scarey and projects their favorite meme “America is teh evil”, which fits right in with the meme of our enemies, who also make no sense. Good job. You guys are really smart, and great. Thanks.

LesterRay says:

America isn't evil

“The official reason for the bill is that this would somehow help convince the world that America isn’t evil…”
RAMBO, FRIDAY 13TH, FIGHT CLUB, TERMINATOR, KILL BILL, AND ALL THEIR SEQUELS AND THE LIST GOES ON AND ON…(yes I used all caps for the evil dude whom thinks you shouldn’t) and even our love stories are built around some of the gorious crap. Even Walt Disney movies have moved into the questionable matter…This is a case of a politician failing to know what she is being paid the big bucks for…Laws to protect citizens here and cut taxes and provide medical for our needy and as I said the list goes on and on…We are building fences to keep people out faster than we can finance them…Other countries build fences to keep people in, I don’t think we are having a real problem with our PR, hmmm!

Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Mike, thrust our society on others? You have jumped the shark. Mix this with no IP Rights, free content, hell. your commie tendency is really showing.

Yes, thrust our society on others. Re-read the article. There’s a law in the works to that effect.

And BTW, Mike never said that we should revoke all IP rights; he says that indiscriminately enforcing them is stupid.

Mark (user link) says:

I don’t necessarily agree that government should be engaging in these sorts of activities. It doesn’t seem like a legitimate government responsibility. But, your anti-American bent is distasteful, and I hardly find you a credible expert on why “the US has a negative reputation in much of the world” or even that we actually have such a reputation. And how exactly can a culture be “thrust upon” someone? What, do we put Mickey Mouse on a carrier and force other nations to bow down to him at gunpoint?

And what does this have to do with technology?

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But, your anti-American bent is distasteful

How is a post about a bad law possibly read as anti-American?

And how exactly can a culture be “thrust upon” someone?

Perhaps by passing a law requiring embassies to promote American movies. Which was the point of the post.

Again, I’m at a loss as to how you could possibly interpret that as anti-American.

NeutralMe says:

Re: Mark on Jun 10th

[i]I hardly find you a credible expert on why “the US has a negative reputation in much of the world”[/i]

Let me guess, you belong to the vast majority of Americans that doesn’t have a passport and never left the country, right? I find it really thrilling that there is this great tool called the internet and yet there is this group of people that doesn’t seem to get past the US-government controlled and censored/spun info-feed! Who do you think is shooting at your troops in those countries? There are people taking holidays and flying over from other countries into the war zones to have a pop at your Marines – that’s how popular you are… Unless of course you count the amount of countries you cannot openly say you are an US citizen without having to fear to get shot as popularity that is…

@ #32 – wtf are you talking about – are you saying that McDonalds or any other business is now classed as culture? ’cause otherwise you really lost the plot there, mate — and even then you ‘thrust’ (as in force) it on the consumer (you take so many of this or we will stop taking all of your goods altogether is the most common US trade negotiation strategy). Do please name one thing that the Europeans really need from America… 🙂

sawtooth says:


Those “rough men” in your questionable quote are our relatives and friends. They’re mostly young people. They often join the army because there’s no other job opportunity, probably more so than by conviction. They’re risking their lives for something that has nothing to do with you being comfortable. Chances are you could still be sleeping “peaceably” if they hadn’t been sent to Iraq/wherever. Your quote is disrespectful to the lives lost in these useless conflicts. If anything, it shows you have little or no grasp on the subject at hand.

With such a narrow and distorted view, it’s no wonder the world at large believes US citizens are jackasses.

The entire philosophy behind your words is exactly why it would be a better idea for that congresswoman to change her law and make it a mandatory thing to promote culture IN the US, so that all (okay, I’ll settle for ‘some of’) those selfish people without a clue become a thing of the past.

sxc says:

F you pansies. Its not our fault that arab kids want to be like Mike. Its not our fault that arab girls don’t feel like being second class citizens. Its not our fault that other people don’t enjoy being persecuted because of their beliefs.

Take your liberal guilt and your hate America attitude to Canada or to hell, I really don’t care.

CosmicDog (profile) says:

Way to over-react everybody

Please, read the bill and read the article. This bill is not about Brokeback Mountain and Britney Spears. It is not about making it illegal not to show US movies in our consulates and embassies around the world. The bill is intended to establish cultural libraries. The article mentions classic movies. Calm down. And as for the Congresswoman representing the interests of Hollywood, well, it is the area she was elected to represent. Or do the people that live and/or work in Hollywood deserve congressional representation? Even if they are responsible for considerable chunk of our GNP?

Joshua C. Davey says:

This is just another way to prop up a failing business model through legislation, someone in an earlier post likened the MPAA or RIAA to a welfare system. It’s not about culture, it’s about moving product, and padding a balance sheet by creating a non-existant market through misuse of government regulation. Is this a wellfare bill for Hollywood content? In a word, absolutely.

Consider that if it’s successful, the RIAA may want to replace muzak in our embassies with top 40 artists.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Oh God… which is worse? Muzak or top 40?

It would be amusing to see the bill, since if it forvids the showing of movies not made in teh USA it could end up baning Star wars and many other clearly seppo movies (all he scenes on sets in at elast the original star wars trilogy were filmed in London). Alternaltively, if the rule was agaisnt showing films not made by US-owned companies, some majors could be ruled out becuase of forgien ownership.

Anyway, I should think that most of the people who go to the embassy to watch a film are embassy-connected people anyway (staff, thier families, and so forth), making it a rather pointless execise if you believe the stated aims. regarding the ciltural events mentioned above, I am sure taht they already only show seppo content, and so this law is not really needed.

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