SEN. Bob Dole and New York Police Commissioner William Bratton may have jumped the gun earlier this week when they suggested that the attack on a New York subway booth imitated one in the movie ''Money Train.''
During the attack, a subway token booth was set afire, severely injuring the clerk inside. In the movie, the clerks escape from a similar attack. (A would-be robber failed in another attempt yesterday; no one was hurt.)
The news media quickly picked up on the police statements and the similarities between the crime and the movie. Senator Dole, who had previously denounced Hollywood's preoccupation with sex and violence, again criticized the film studios.
But hold on. City transit officials now say nine similar attacks have occurred in the last five years. That predates the movie. A Columbia Pictures source reportedly said the movie scene was based on those attacks.
So what we have here looks like life imitating art imitating life. That doesn't let Columbia Pictures - which has expressed its dismay over the incident - or the rest of Hollywood off the hook. There's simply too much violence and explicit sex in movies, on TV, and even in music. Enough incidents of this type have occurred and enough research has been done to show that constant viewing of this depravity affects people's behavior. People tend to act out the models they hold in thought.
Movie moguls, directors, and screenwriters should start asking themselves: Is sex the end-all and be-all in male-female relationships? Is violence the only way, or the preferred way, to solve society's problems? Is titillation the only entertainment the public will pay to see? We think not.
In the meantime, Dole was absolutely right when he said the way to deal with trash entertainment is not through censorship, but by refusing to pay to see movies glorifying sex and violence for their own sake. To which we'd add that viewers can also turn off the TV. If Hollywood responds to nothing else, a box-office flop and low ratings will get the point across.
There's simply too much violence and explicit sex in movies, on TV, and even in music.