Entertainment: what do the people think, and who cares?
By Dick Rolfe, chairman – The Dove Foundation
For the past 2 years, Dove has been conducting one of the most ambitious consumer opinion polls in history, at least where the subject of entertainment preferences is concerned. Over two million people, by phone and the web, have offered their opinions on certain critical issues concerning entertainment content.
Here is what the most recent data revealed from those who participated in the survey.
94% believe that offensive material in TV, Movies & the Internet is on the rise.
93% want to see more wholesome family entertainment made.
If more was made, 84% said they would make an effort to watch & support it.
77% stated that 75% of today’s entertainment does not meet their expectations or reinforce the values important to them.
70% said that the amount of sex, violence and profanity in films bothers them.
76% think that movie ratings have gotten too lenient, and they don’t trust them. (This varies significantly from a survey by the MPAA which shows that 76% of the people they polled find the ratings somewhat to very helpful.)
What do all these numbers tell us?
They provide a clear answer to the question plaguing Hollywood over the past several months. “Why is theater attendance and the resulting box office revenue dropping steadily like a rock?”
The stats also help explain the reasons behind the results of The Dove Foundation Film Profitability Study of 2005. The report proved that the film studios produced 12 times more R-rated movies than G. And yet, the average G-rated movies produced 11 times greater profit than its R-rated counterpart.
So, why are G-rated films so much more successful than any other category? And, why does Hollywood insist on making so many box office losers (R-rated films)? The answer to the first question is clearly demonstrated in the poll above. Simply put, the average movie-goer is sick of the continuous onslaught of exploding or naked body parts, and foul language.
According to some filmmakers, movies are made to send a message. But, as Louis B. Meyer once said, “If you want to send a message, call Western Union.” According to Merriam-Webster, “to entertain is to amuse.” Portraying society in its most despicable state at the lowest depths of depravity is not, in the minds of most people, entertainment.
Real life offers enough stresses and heartaches and disappointments. Most people don’t go to a movie with the aspiration of feeling worse when they leave. As for language; Michael Medved once said, “I’ve never come out of a movie and heard people complaining that the film would have been better if only a few F-words had been added.” Movies with uplifting, redemptive stories traditionally do better than the downers. Family-friendly movies also have better financial ‘legs’ in DVD sales than the shoot-em-up action films. Let’s face it, more parents buy DVD’s than do thrill-seeking, young, single adults (the target audience for R-rated fare).
Why make so many R-rated films (51% of the total) if they are the least profitable? The answer is rather complicated, because there are several mitigating factors. A large number of filmmakers are more interested in a trophy from their peers than popularity at the box-office. And, they don’t understand those of us that live in the fly-over states.
Like certain politicians, many filmmakers feel they know more about what’s good for us than we do. A fair number of films are made as a result of quid pro quo deals between friends or business partners who agree to something like, “I’ll help you make your film if you’ll help me make mine.”
The Dove Foundation opinion poll speaks on behalf of the theater-going public, in a voice loud enough for Hollywood executives to hear. What most Americans seem to be saying is, “Give us more movies without offensive material; movies that reinforce our values, without explicit portrayals of sex, violence, nudity and profanity. If you build them, we will come.”
There are several ways you can help reinforce this powerful message.
1. Partner with us by supporting Dove financially. The Dove Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and as such relies on the generosity of people like you to keep us in the battle for decency in entertainment. All contributions are tax-deductible.
2. Tell your friends and neighbors about our efforts to move Hollywood in a family-friendly direction. The more aware people become about the importance of their entertainment choices, the better chance we have of impacting entertainment industry decisions at the highest level.
3. As an alternative to protests and boycotts, try something positive. Offer an encouraging word to your local video store or theater owner when you see a Dove-approved movie. They are in business to win the approval of as many people as possible.
You are the answer to Hollywood’s current financial woes. The recent success of many Dove-approved movies demonstrates our desire to be entertained but within certain guidelines of decency.
Keep the faith! Things are changing!
The Dove Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission is to encourage and promote the creation, production, distribution and consumption of wholesome family entertainment. We are supported primarily by donations from families such as yours who want to move Hollywood in a more family-friendly direction. All donations are tax deductible.
Copyright © 2005 The Dove Foundation. All rights reserved.