The Hightower Lowdown

Why do we pay to watch ads in theatres? And, Newt Gingrich argues that the White House should lie to us more.


Advertising has been likened to someone banging on a bucket with a pipe, and these days the banging has grown cacophonous and constant.

I'm certainly not against advertising and promotion -- indeed it helps pay my bills, and it has its place in our world. But that place is not "everywhere," which seems to be the new standard of this grasping industry.

The latest example of the "everywhere" creed is the amazing flood of ads that lately has hit our movie theatres. This really rips my shorts -- I mean, we pay money to go see a movie, pay quite a bit in fact (so Hollywood moguls can build another mansion and Schwarzenegger can buy another small country).

Bad enough that paying for a movie ticket, plus springing for popcorn and drinks, requires you take out a bank loan, but now when the lights dim, instead of getting the previews and the movie you've paid to see, you're forced to sit there and absorb 15 or so minutes worth of their stupid ads. We get nothing from this intrusion except anger -- and who needs more of that? The big theatre chains are using us as a captive audience for ads, stealing our time for their profit. Did I mention that we pay to get in? Who wants to pay to watch ads?

The good news is you -- the moviegoing public. In theatre after theatre, the audience is yelling at the screen during these ads and raising hell with the managers. And a scrappy group in Chicago has even filed a class-action suit for consumer fraud against Loews Cineplex Entertainment, one of the biggest chains and worst abusers of the movie-ad scam. The suit demands that Loews either drop the ads or advertise the real starting time of the movie, so we consumers can decide if we want to endure their advertising abuse.

The chain has called the suit "ludicrous," and the industry says that we customers will learn to "adjust" to the forced viewing of ads.

Hell, no, I won't adjust. To fight back, call Commercial Alert at 503/235-8012.


What fun to have Newt Gingrich back in our lives! He has a way of cutting through the political obfuscations and going directly to the right-wing nub of any particular policy.

Newt, the corrupt and disgraced former House speaker, has reinvented himself as a freelance "Big Thinker" for the Republican far right, openly espousing ideas that the Bushites, for example, quietly embrace, but don't want the public to know about. Take propaganda. No, no, cries the White House, we don't do that! But Newt, bless his nutty heart, recently held a press conference and bluntly called for an official presidential propagandist. He even proposed a title: special assistant to the president for global communication.

Of course, the Bushites publicly rejected Newt's notion, but this bunch already plays the propaganda game more aggressively than any administration in our history -- and that's saying a lot! A new book, called Weapons of Mass Deception, rips the curtain open on the Wizard of Oz message manipulation blasting out of the Bush White House every day.

Written by two respected PR watchdogs -- Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber -- the book reveals the network of "information warriors" and "perception managers" assembled by Bush and company to sell their Iraqi war to the American public. George W.'s chief of staff (a former lobbyist for General Motors) even referred to the PR campaign leading up to the war as a "product launch."

In addition to the stage-managed lies presented to us -- such as the phony, made-for-TV toppling of Saddam's statue in Baghdad -- the Bushites took their propaganda machine global. For example, Weapons of Mass Deception reveals that front groups supposedly created by Iraqis or Muslims in support of Bush's invasion in fact were launched and even funded by our own government.

Propaganda is worse than bad -- it kills ... and it can kill our democracy.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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movies, advertising, Loew's, Commercial Alert, Newt Gingrich, propaganda, Special Assistant to the President for Global Communication, Weapons of Mass Deception, Sheldon Rampton, John Stauber

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