Fighting Cocks

Rene Rodriguez is a punk. Not the scowling, pierced, and tattoed kind; the Herald staff writer and film reviewer looks more like Opie Taylor than Sid Vicious. No, Rodriguez's punkdom slashes deeper than nipple rings, jackboots, and the other affectations of the fashionably disaffected. Rather, he's one of the far more treacherous new breed, the disingenuous, bleeding-heart PC punks.

These guys pose a far greater threat to society than mere skinheads. They've done their homework, read their Machiavelli. For example, Rodriguez could have gone ballistic A either pro or con A over Naked, a film many critics (yours truly among them) listed as their favorite for 1993, and which many others trashed. Instead the clever little shit played it coy and gave the film a lukewarm evaluation. Then he bestowed two and a half stars upon Roman Polanski's howlingly bad Bitter Moon, a movie that, if you had to rate it using some sort of celestial index, deserved a black hole. And he raved about Serial Mom, which deserved the praise but is the kind of movie your basic humorless, repressed Herald reader probably won't get. Surprising choices, all.

But an insidious pattern begins to emerge when you view the pieces collectively. There's a definite method to Rodriguez's madness. He is taking great pains to convince everyone that he's a levelheaded, nonpartisan writer with an open mind. The minute he thinks you've bought his act, he's going to clobber you with his hopelessly passe liberal propaganda.

That is exactly what he tried to do with his commentary about Martin Lawrence's new film, You So Crazy. Rodriguez departed from his reviewing chores in a transparent attempt to drum up controversy around the film's original NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America's Code and Rating Administration.

Why, Rodriguez wondered, did this concert documentary pull an NC-17 when the graphic ice-pick murders in Basic Instinct or Madonna's candle-wax romp through Body of Evidence got away with Rs? After all, he reasoned, You So Crazy is just 90 minutes of sporadically hilarious, frequently tasteless standup comedy from the popular Fox TV star. It's just a little raunchier than the material Lawrence performs when he hosts HBO's Def Comedy Jam. Besides, it's only words.

First of all, You So Crazy is more than a little raunchier than Def Comedy Jam. And even if the two were equally blue, that just proves that a show as gutter-bound as HBO's has no place defiling the airwaves. It's about time a watchdog group like the MPAA had the guts to tell it like it is. Too bad there isn't a similar board monitoring HBO's content.

Besides, there's a much larger problem here than a writer for a left-leaning rag like the Herald will ever address: Martin Lawrence and the comedians who showcase on Def Comedy Jam are all Negroes. The identities and credentials of the stout-hearted parents who make up the MPAA's various ratings panels are wisely kept secrets, but you can bet most of them are white, churchgoing Christians. They know you shouldn't let colored people talk dirty like that, or next thing you know they'll be "rapping" to your mother or your sister the same way. And how will Rodriguez respond when crowds of testosterone-charged young black males whipped into a sexual frenzy by Lawrence's routines venture out into the streets? Did he even consider that while he sat in his ivory tower and composed his malicious little attack on the MPAA? Of course not. Hell, Rodriguez probably doesn't even have a daughter. Why should he care?

And that swill about Lawrence's sex talk being less dangerous than graphic depictions of rape, murder, drug use, and kinky sex A that's pretty ironic, isn't it? A writer downplaying the power of words. For your information, Mr. Rodriguez, the Bible and the Declaration of Independence are just words, too, but they've had a profound effect on the shape of world history.

Rodriguez's main target, which he craftily withheld until the final sentence of his article, is censorship. Like all subversives, Rodriguez has a knee-jerk response to the concept. No doubt he can recite all that predictable crap about constitutional rights to free speech. Why don't these so-called free-thinkers apply the same argument to censorship that they always resort to in supporting bans on legitimate household weapons like assault rifles A that the framers of the Constitution couldn't have anticipated how out of control the situation would get. Meanwhile, he attacks that selfless defender of our nation's morals, MPAA head Jack Valenti, as a power-hungry egomaniac just because the guy has the courage to take a stand against the tide of filth that threatens to submerge this great God-fearing nation.

Censorship is not necessarily a bad thing. Think of it this way. If you'd have had strong enough censorship at the TV networks (TV is still, after all, the heart of the problem; the networks held the line for as long as they could, God bless 'em, but with the advent of liberal-sponsored, anything-goes cable TV it was probably inevitable that all manner of cussing, nudity, and simulated sex would find its way into prime time), you would have had no Saturday Night Live. No SNL means no Doctor Detroit, no Golden Child, no Continental Divide, no Three Amigos, no Spies Like Us, no So I Married an Axe Murderer, no Harlem Nights, no Ghostbusters II, and especially no Coneheads. The world of cinema, at least, would have been a much nicer place.

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