July 1, 2005


Small steps for bigger change
by Jim Hightower

From our Thanks-For-Small-Favors department comes two recent breakthroughs.

First is an advance from the world of movie theaters, home of the $8 ticket and the $5 small popcorn. As film buffs know, price gouging has not satisfied the profit lust of theater chains, so they have been selling commercial time to corporations. This means that advertisers get a 10-or-15 minute block just before the film runs to hawk their products at us. We're a captive audience but we paid to see a movie, not commercials.

Thanks to enough squawking by outraged moviegoers, the Loews Cineplex chain will now begin a truth-in-starting-times policy. When listing a showtime of 7 p.m., for example, it will include a note that the movie really begins about 7:15, preceded by a block of ads. I'd rather they just scrub the irritating ads, but thanks for this small favor.

Now on to the nation's capitol where the congress has taken a small step to outlaw rampant government propaganda. This is a reaction to the growing use of VNRs — Video News Releases — by the Bushites. They've been using our tax dollars to make fake news reports that praise their policies then distribute the VNR reports to TV stations, which run them as real news items, with no mention that they come from the government. After a massive public outcry, congress has now banned federal agencies from making VNRs.. for one year. Sheesh — one year? Like I said, these are small favors.

Both of these advances have come not from the good will of the corporate or political powers but from old-fashioned grassroots protest. The Powers That Be will go only as far as pushed — so keep pushing. Don't just sit and fume at a movie theater that blasts you with ads — go see the manager and fume. And to get a permanent end to televised propaganda by both government- and corporate-sponsored VNRs, link-up with the watchdog group Free Press, at www.freepress.net.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com.


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