The president of Motion Picture Association of America, former U.S. senator Chris Dodd, praised the movie industry for its economic, cultural, and social contributions to the country Friday while speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He discussed violence in the media and defended the entertainment industry against claims by the NRA that it is to blame for the recent spate of mass shootings in America.
"I feel very strongly that this industry has been on the forefront of freedom of speech from its inception," said Dodd, who represented Connecticut in the Senate. "Films that have challenged and provoked not always were received warmly."
He said he sees the industry's role in the depiction of violence is providing the tools to people—particularly parents—to know what is in film, through the ratings system and other platforms of information.
Dodd called "business of regulating content" a "slippery slope."
"We provide choice for people, a remarkable choice for entertainment, not every movie is for everyone," he said.
"People ought to have the information about what they are going to see when they walk in, so they can make that choice."
He called the NRA's focus on the media's role "predictable," but added that the issue of mental health should be brought to the forefront.
He also discussed Zero Dark Thirty, which has had tongues wagging around Washington for its depiction of "enhanced interrogation techniques"—what some would call torture—and their role in the pursuit of Osama bin Laden. A number of lawmakers have condemned the film, saying it misrepresents the intelligence gathering that led to the successful 2011 raid.
"They wanted to tell this story about what transpired over a decade that ultimately led to the successful apprehension and the killing of Osama bin Laden" said Dodd, pointing out that it is a movie, where "there is a lot of poetic license," and not a documentary.
"Part of that story involved enhanced interrogation techniques, and you saw them on the film," he said, suggesting that if such aspects had been left out of the film, it would have garnered even more criticism.