Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jack Valenti (1921-2007)

Jack Valenti died today of complications from a stroke in his Washington, D.C. home. He was 85. Rest assured, I am not going to post an obituary. You can read a pretty good one here, where you might be surprised to learn some things about Valenti that you didn't know. I sure did (for example, I didn't know he was a bomber in WWII or that he was one of the people in the motorcade when JFK was shot). Nor am I going to use his death as an opportunity to say anything on the subject of censorship (although my opinions might surprise people as they tend to be different from most people's). Rather I am going to relay a few things I read today on the comment-board over at Valenti's IMDB page. Some things that, quite frankly, disturb and sadden me. In fact, in a way, this blog isn't really about Jack Valenti so much as it's about people's reactions to his death and how they tie in with some things I've been thinking about lately.

(Note: There is going to be some langage in the following statements that you do not typically hear on this film blog.)

On a thread entitled "THE BASTARD IS FINALLY DEAD" someone wrote "Allah/Jesus/Buddha be praised. This old douchebag finally croaked."

On another thread entitled "Die From Your Stroke" someone wrote "You suck."

On a thread entitled "At Last" someone wrote "At last this fascist is dead, what a shame for the industry. I hope media (except FOX of course) Talk about him as what he really was, a greedy ignorant fascist."

And finally, for a change of pace, a thread entitled "My prayers go out to him and his family" has someone saying "May he rest in peace." to which someone responded with "Fuck him and his family. I hope they die too."

Clearly, Valenti was not well-liked by a lot of people nowadays. I suspect primarily because of the growing discontent with the MPAA and its ratings system (which is nowhere better represented than in Kirby Dick's documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated), but comments like these tend to depress me because they demonstrate a lack of ability to separate the worth of a person from the worth of their ideas. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Valenti's opinions on movie content and his approach to rating them, whether one thinks that the effect he had on the industry were predominately positive or negative, such personal hatred-such vitrolic sentiments-are completely uncalled for. Jack Valenti's death is not a cause for celebration. In fact, I'm not sure any person's death is a cause for celebration. Even the death of an individual about whom we can honestly say the world is better off without (which Valenti was far from). Even the death of an Adolf Hitler or a Saddam Hussein should be cause for some degree of mourning I think. As I wrote in response to a comment on a recent blog about the Virginia Tech shooting, "I am reminded of that poem by John Donne: 'Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.'"

How "dead" inside does a person have to be that they can derive satisfaction from the death of a fellow human being? I know this is a rather radical statement, but I think that the people who rejoice at the passing of Jack Valenti are fundamentally no different from someone like Cho Seunh Hui.


god_machine said...

I think that dude's name was Chow Yun Fat, so you got it wrong. & yes it is good to have satisfaction over a person's death if he is an evil cocksucker like Valenti was. After all, you don't hear people going around saying , "Oh, poor, dead Hitler."

same concept.

so yes, I too hope he Rots In Piss!

Dan E. said...

Thank you, Damian. It's comforting to know that, no matter what the rest of the world thinks, you will always have a tempered and intelligent view of events, even if I don't always agree with you.

Valenti was one of the most important men in the history of Hollywood, and though I don't think his ratings system was perfect, it's certainly better than government censorship. And to be honest, the ratings system is helpful in a lot of cases. Not everyone knows what every movie is about or what to expect from it. And what most people forget is that the system was devised to help inform parents about movies their kids were going to see. To be sure the fear of an NC-17 has dampened many a film by infringing on artistic integrity. But there have been plenty more that whose integrity was compromised without consideration for the rating. So don't blame Jack Valenti because your mommy wouldn't let you see that R-rated movie. A man this important doesn't deserve such hatred.

cineboy said...


Those are good and wise comments. Thanks for the post. I don't have anything to add. I think you know where I stand on the topic of human nature, etc. I hope that when I die people have enough mercy in their hearts to say "May God save his soul."

Howard said...

You could not be more wrong! As for the responder dan really need to liberate your mind from the Disney-Land Truman-Show land of childish delusion.

Now allow me please to explain why yes I hate Jack Valenti and why he was symbolic of the unrelenting evil at the core of American and Western world society and that your notion of him as some guy who invented a rating system for movies that is harmless is on the thinking level of a 7 year old.

I shall briefly address the issue of the MPAA as a rating system by saying that it is thought to be as it is the worst system in any democratic country because it is a corporate star-chamber with no formal democratic accountability
whatsoever. See the documentary THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED out on DVD and you will see how Valenti told endless lies and that the MPAA does not even abide by its own rules or claims.

But the MPAA is merely the tip of the iceberg of the litany of the evil culture of Jack Valenti.

I realise thanks to the Hollywood of Jack Valenti culture many of you think that JFK was some kind of hero, some noble figure slain and stolen causing a change in is all bullshit! A myth sold to people by the Valenti's of this world.

Jack Valenti was a member of the Kennedy imperial mafia a cult of corporate-state technocrats who
launched the most criminal mass murderous war of the past 50 years unleashing the US empire's invasion of Indochina (that would cost 5 million Indochinese lives including 3:8 million Vietnamese and 14 million Indochinese wounded).
The JFK/LBJ regime that Valenti served overthrew democratic and independent governments across the world and installed fascist despot after fascist despot including the installing into power of the Baathist regime in Baghdad by Kennedy and ther CIA. The overthrow of Brazilian democracy and the installation of a death squad junta of generals. Worst yet was the removal of Sukarno and the installation of Suharto the Saddam of Asia Pacific into power in Indonesia. Suharto was the kind of pro American business pro Hollywood media dictator that Jack Valenti and his cohorts could not get enough of. Never mind the couple of million murdered people as along as reactionary Hollywood blockbusters got access to movie
theatres in Jakarta. Never mind the genocide in East Timor that is not the kind of thing that would make an Uber corporate lobbyist like Valenti stop loving either Suharto's Indonesia or the blood drenched profits enjoyed by Valenti's cronies.
On the home front Valenti was the ultimate DC/Hollywood corporate state mafioso. He never met a top down autocratic measure that gave the corporate-complex more power top impose upon the people that he did not like. He never met a grass roots bottom up inclination for he did not have total contempt. He was about the interests of power and the powerful. His concept of humanity was restricted to the inner circle of an ultra-racist
imperial super-power and the corporate criminals the interests of whom he stood for and help line their pockets with dollars hateful of democracy.

Jack Valenti was a habitual liar and a disgusting autocratic bastard.

He even lied about the usage of the NC17 see the above mentioned documentary. When asked about the NC17 he insisted it is given mostly for violence. But in fact all the MPAA own stats show a constant tolerance toward extreme
violence and constant hatred of sex and that the NC17 is given far more for sex than it is violence. The rest of the Western world but for Japan, sees this as a back to front and find it hard to figure
and comprehend the logic of giving one film in which a young woman is sliced into pieces an R while giving another film an NC17 for female pubic hair.

However the MPAA agenda on being anti-sex and pro-violence makes perfect sense to me when considering the context of the regime Valenti represented.

The United States and its empire is a regime of moral bankruptcy that is constantly seeking opportunities and rationale to engage in extreme criminal violence upon other lands and peoples. In order to facilitate this there needs to be a populace of violence addicted young men available for military application and indoctrination with extensive pre-indoctrination already well intact.

The empire feeds off a culture of violence. To this end Jack Valenti served the empire that has murdered literally millions of innocent people over the past 40 years with the kind of culture and mindset that such a society requires. From Washington to Hollywood Valenti was always on the side of the war criminals and witch-hunters and he created a secret star-chamber rating system that would keep independent thought from the mass public. While ensuring the barbaric bread and circuses that a barbaric empire and its inner society of myth and gore requires to function and facilitate its imperial agenda of inhumanity to human kind.

Howard Simon Marks
Manchester UK

Damian said...

Dan E. and Cineboy,

Thank you for the kind, thoughtful and encouraging words. Bless you both.

god_machine and Howard,

Than you for trying to set me straight. I appreciate it.

Piper said...


I am always sorry to see someone pass, but don't really feel much for the man, so the loss doesn't affect me like others. I think the hatred for the man is completely unjustified. The MPAA system may be outdated now, but there was a time when it served a purpose.

As usual, people are trying to blame someone else for their own shortcomings. I don't need a ratings system to know what kind of movie I should be seeing with my kids or with my wife. That's called judgement.

Damian said...

That's a fair response, Piper.

Moviezzz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damian said...

I appreciate your kind words, Moviezz, and I completely agree. The current ratings system may be inadequate and in serious need of reform but it is still superior to the Hays Code of old Hollywood and when it was first instituted it was a very good thing and Valenti was a big part of it.

It's interesting that a previous poster said I needed to see This Film is Not Yet Rated because I have already seen it and my opinion was very similar to the one you expressed in your review a while back on your own blog (although when I describe the film to potential renters in my video store I have to emphasize its good qualities as John Lewis, who is featured pretty prominently in the film, is a professor of film studies at our local university here in Corvallis).

Anyway, thanks again, my friend. :)

Howard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard said...

No per usual some people cannot understand that a reference to a source is specific to the issue within the sentence or paragraph.
I neither complimented or complained about THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED...I happen to not think that much of the film as a film BUT I was using it as a convenient source for footage of Valenti saying in a US TV interview that most NC17 ratings are handed out for violence when everyone in the industry and beyond knows it to be total b.s. . It is common knowledge as well as MPAA own stats supported fact that sex is the target that gets an NC17 far more than violence and that violence is tolerated far more.
I was simply using this as an example of Jack Valenti as a habitual liar. If he was willing to tell such an obvious lie about something like that, something we all know simply is not true then his willingness to tell lies on issues and points where it is less clear to most people that a lie is being told is far more likely.
THIS FILM IS NOT RATED is poor film-making I agree but it contains clips of Valenti's remarks from other sources...those clips and his own remarks are not in doubt even if the convenient body for you to find them in, is a dissapointing film which I agree it is.
Please learn to understand and comprehend these kinds of differences when judging peoples contributions to a post.

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