William Baldwin Testifies Before Senate Committee on Youth Violence and Entertainment Rating Systems

William Baldwin Testifies Before Senate Committee on Youth Violence and Entertainment Rating Systems

Tells Lawmakers That Parents Need Better Tools, Not Government Regulation of Entertainment

Washington, D.C. – William Baldwin, actor and president of The Creative Coalition testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs today on youth violence and the current entertainment rating systems.

Baldwin, a father of a two-year old daughter, spoke to chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman and committee members about the importance of ensuring parents have the proper tools to guide their children’s entertainment choices. However, Baldwin stressed that any improvements to the current rating system cannot be a result of government sanctions that would violate the First Amendment.

“Solutions should not come in the form of government regulation, or any direct or indirect form of censorship,” Baldwin said. “In the end, voluntary self-regulation is the only constitutionally acceptable way to address this issue.”

Baldwin began his testimony by trying to dispel the myth that youth violence is a direct and sole result of movies, music and video games. Instead, Baldwin suggested to committee members that the high profile school shootings are the result of several factors, such as: drug and alcohol abuse; divorce and family breakdown; physical and sexual abuse; neglect; poverty; mental illness; and easy access to firearms. While Baldwin acknowledged the entertainment industry’s influence, he stressed it was just one of many factors.

“The media may indirectly contribute to this problem in the form of aggression, desensitizing or over-stimulation,” Baldwin said. “But the problem is greater than violent movies or video games, and the ratings we use to control access to violence and sexual content are not going to solve the social ills afflicting children today. Printed warnings on rap CDs are not going to raise anyone’s children, or make them go to school or keep them away from drugs. A sticker on a video game is not a bandage for a broken family.”

Baldwin criticized the idea of a universal rating system for all forms of entertainment, citing a recent Federal Trade Commission report which determined parents are overwhelmingly familiar and satisfied with current system. He pointed out that the Motion Picture Association of America has implemented new guidelines that the entertainment industry has voluntarily embraced. “The Creative Coalition is proud of the recent industry efforts to improve marketing practices,” Baldwin said.

While Baldwin pointed out the improvements made by the MPAA to its rating system and the Recording Industry Association of America’s parental advisory sticker system, he stressed that more could be done.

Baldwin called for strengthening the rating systems and giving parents better tools. He proposed:

  • Incorporating media literacy in schools to help children understand and better interpret the media in all forms such as films to television commercials to the evening news;
  • Making the ratings more informative for parents; and
  • Working with retailers and enhance enforcement of the current systems.

“Any effort will fail unless parents are doing their job,” Baldwin said. “The entertainment industry can help parents. The industry can’t be parents.”

The Creative Coalition is the leading nonprofit, nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance, primarily the First Amendment, arts advocacy, campaign finance reform and public education. Headquartered in New York City, The Creative Coalition also has offices in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Creative Coalition does not endorse or raise funds for political parties or candidates.


Press Release:

July 25, 2001
Kym Spell