Dennis Prager on Joe Eszterhas

On his nationally syndicated radio show 8/15/02, Dennis Prager said he laughed throughout the 2001 Jerry Zucker movie Rat Race. His wife Fran laughed so hard she choked on her popcorn.

Dennis spoke for the first time about Joe Eszterhas' recent column in the NY Times. Joe's written 14 films, many of them filled with sex, infidelity, violence, slashing, prostitutes, etc... He now goes to church and he regrets his life work. So he writes an article for the New York Times regretting his work. And which part of his work does he regret? That he had characters who smoked. It is so absurd.

You can't argue that Basic Instinct and his many other films have been a service to humanity. The way he eroticized murder.

Joe Eszterhas's piece is so funny that only someone in Hollywood could write it. Because Eszterhas has throat cancer, ergo, smoking is wrong. The narcissism is amazing.

Joe Eszterhas writes 8/9/02: I've written 14 movies. My characters smoke in many of them, and they look cool and glamorous doing it. Smoking was an integral part of many of my screenplays because I was a militant smoker. It was part of a bad-boy image I'd cultivated for a long time — smoking, drinking, partying, rock 'n' roll.

Smoking, I once believed, was every person's right. Efforts to stop it were politically correct, a Big Brother assault on personal freedoms. Secondhand smoke was a nonexistent problem invented by professional do-gooders. I put all these views into my scripts.

DP: Has Eszterhas ever portrayed marital sex? And what about alcohol? How many tens of thousands of innocent people die each year because of drunk drivers and criminals committing crimes while under the influence of alcohol?

Kathleen Parker writes on Jewish World Review: Between the woman in "Basic Instinct" ice-picking her lover to death during sexual intercourse and the pantyless woman crossing her legs while smoking a cigarette, which is more offensive? Which more likely to be imitated? And by whom, young girls?

First, one might hope that young women impressionable enough to want to imitate fictional movie characters aren't watching "Basic Instinct." If they are, the cigarette is the least of our worries. I'm far more concerned about the brutality of the imagery on our collective psyche and spirit than I am that someone might think Sharon Stone looks cool smoking a cigarette.

Tammi Bruce writes on FrontPageMagazine.com: Of what exactly has he finally realized his culpability? His portrayal of Sharon Stone as a psychotic lesbian ice-picktress? Or Stone as a stalked victim-to-be in “Sliver”? Or Linda Fiorentino as psycho-whore-maybe killer in “Jade”? Nope — he’s upset he glamorized smoking. That’s right. Why? Eszterhas has been diagnosed with throat cancer, has lost most of his larynx, and has difficulty speaking after years of what he termed being a “militant” smoker.

While anyone getting cancer is a tragedy, and he deserves the best of luck in his recovery, Eszterhas’ personal hypocrisy is truly stunning and worthy of criticism. Yes, it’s good he finally recognizes that glamorizing smoking can influence people, but what about glamorizing violence? Perhaps I’ve been living on a planet different from Eszterhas’ but the fact that smoking causes cancer has been known for decades. As has film’s impact in general on an audience’s social attitudes and mores. This is where the real danger of his movies comes to light. Choosing to smoke is ultimately a direct personal decision. The impact on attitudes, however, especially about women, is much more sinister and insidious problem.

What are the common themes in his films from the 1990’s? Like “Basic Instinct,” “Jade,” “Showgirls,” and “Sliver,” alternately sexualized violence against women (and men!), glamorized murder, portrayed women as whores who were not to be trusted and declared in image and word that violence against women is erotic, understandable and inevitable. After all, if you don’t kill them, they’ll kill you first! This sick contribution to our popular culture demeans both women and men, and has made Eszterhas, and other associated with his films, very rich and famous.