1st June 2004

Mr. Troma Goes To Washington

posted in `Roids |

By Lloyd Kaufman with Danny Purcell

As FCC chairman Michael Powell strives to protect the U.S. from the unspeakable terrors of swear-words and exposed celebrity breasts, Troma president Lloyd Kaufman continues to do his part to defend us against authoritarian bureaucrats like Michael Powell.

Powell came down hard on Janet Jackson’s recent football flashdance, calling it a ”classless, crass and deplorable stunt.” In describing his personal experience of the event, he painted an idyllic scene of his family, joined together to enjoy a wholesome American evening of men plowing into other men…a very special moment which was tragically and irreversibly torn asunder by the sudden appearance of a boob (by which I refer not only to Justin Timberlake, but also to Ms. Jackson’s naked flesh)! His rather overwrought reaction echoes his earlier, equally misplaced fury at the televised use of the f-word by U2 frontman Bono. Invesigations were ordered into both incidents, and Powell has made it clear that he will make damned sure he never has to suffer such traumatic episodes again.

Meanwhile, after thirty years of fighting for independent art and media, Kaufman has remained concerned with a "crass and deplorable stunt" that actually matters: the FCC’s increasing support for media-monopolizing corporate conglomerates. In countless essays and public appearances, as well as in his own films, Kaufman has warned of the threat posed to free expression by these conglomerates.

A frequent theme of Kaufman’s work, that of the little guy standing up to big business, has earned him comparisons to Frank Capra. Kaufman recently stepped into the shoes of Capra’s Mr. Smith and took his cause to the nation’s capital. There, he met with members of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, as well as the Chief Staffer of the House Rules Committee, and was pleased to discover an intelligent, supportive audience for his concerns. Kaufman not only addressed the importance of maintaining restrictions on media ownership, he was able to clear up some common misconceptions about independent film — particularly that true independents somehow benefit from business conventions like the Sundance Film Festival, or corporate-owned satellite studios like Miramax. Much of this seemed to be new information in D.C., and was received with interest.

Kaufman had also arranged to meet with counsels to FCC commissioner Michael Copps, but they mysteriously failed to show up. Perhaps someone else got to them first. That, of course, is purely speculation on the part of the present author, who suffers from mild paranoia. Nevertheless, there is cause for optimism, knowing that the anti-monopoly message is finding sympathetic ears everywhere, even at the heart of the nation.

This might not receive the same exposure as a famous tit, but it’s still good news for the underdogs.

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