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Sunday, May 16, 1999 Published at 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK

World: Americas

Clinton blasts Hollywood violence

Video shops owners were asked to strictly enforce film ratings

President Clinton has urged the American entertainment industry to limit the violence children see in films and on television.

Hours before he was due in Hollywood for a party fundraising event, the president told Americans in his weekly radio address that there was still too much screen violence.

He called on Hollywood to re-evaluate the film rating system, saying that most Americans would see 40,000 dramatised murders by the time they reached 18.

Mr Clinton has been pressing for tougher gun controls and Hollywood restraint in portraying violence since the Littleton High School massacre.

Fifteen people - 12 students, one teacher and the two teenagers who carried out the killing spree - died at the school in Denver, Colorado.

The killers were reported to have been heavily influenced by violent movies and video games.

Influence equals responsibility

Mr Clinton's radio address comes at the end of a week in which the Republican-led Senate passed some new gun control restrictions but which were criticised by Mr Clinton and his Democrat Party as being riddled with loopholes.

Extracts from President Clinton's speech
He said: "There is still too much violence on our nation's screens, large and small.

"Every one of us has a role to play in giving our kids a safe future, and those with greater influence have greater responsibility.

"There are still too many vulnerable children who are steeped in this culture of violence and becoming increasingly desensitised to it and to its consequences."

US Correspondent Malcolm Brabant: "Uncomfortable listening for his Hollywood hosts"
The president said there was a need to review the rating system, especially the parental guidance PG rating, and to ensure that it is enforced in cinemas and video shops.

"You should check IDs, not turn the other way as a child walks unchaperoned into an R-rated movie," he said.

Mr Clinton also challenged the industry to stop running commercials or movie previews showing guns if children were likely to be watching.

Uneasy listening

President Clinton made his radio address shortly before attending a Hollywood gala that was expected to raise more than $1.5m for party campaign funds.

[ image: Oliver Stone's violent Natural Born Killers was widely criticised]
Oliver Stone's violent Natural Born Killers was widely criticised
Some of Hollywood's biggest names, including director Steven Spielberg, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn were on the guest list.

Last week Mr Clinton met leaders of the entertainment industry to ask them to think twice before making violent movies.

The Republican leader in the Senate, Trent Lott, called Mr Clinton and his Vice-President Al Gore hypocritical for criticising Hollywood while taking its money for campaign funds.

He said: "[They're] begging for cash from one of the polluters responsible for our nation's moral decline.

"What's the message to our children? Democrats care about your safety, unless it's inconvenient to their partners in Hollywood."

Some of Hollywood's leading names have argued that theatrical violence cannot be blamed for real murders.

Others appear to be taking note of Mr Clinton's calls. The Walt Disney company is to withdraw violent video games from its theme parks and hotels in California and Florida.

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