And it is great to be atDreamWorks Animation. Iwould like towork here. (Laughter.) I have askedJeffrey. The only concern I had was the lightswerekind of dim in the offices and -- (laughter) --I’m pretty sure I’d fallasleep. But there’s a naturalconnectionbetween me and DreamWorks. I don’tknowif you know this, but my ears were one of theinspirations for “Shrek.” (Laughter.) That’s true. True story.
Mellody was being very modestwhen she said she had a front-row seat. Mellody was one ofmy earliest supporters back when nobody couldpronounce my name. And her and JohnRogersat Arial Capital helped to co-chair some of my first fundraisers. Andthey’d have to drag somestraggly group in, kicking and screaming, and write acheck and listen to this young senatorwho had a lot of ideas but notnecessarily any realistic prospects to win. And she wentthrough a lot of ups and downs with me and my career and isjust a great, great friend. So Iwant tothank her publicly for all the support that she’s given us. (Applause.)
We’ve got some folks here who arefighting for the people of Southern California everysingle day and I just wantto acknowledge them. We’ve got the Mayorof Glendale, DaveWeaver. (Applause.) We’vegot three of your outstanding members of Congress -- BradSherman, Adam Schiff,Karen Bass. They are all doing a greatjob. (Applause.)
I want to thank all of you forbeing here. And I want to thank yourCEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg,for inviting me. (Applause.) Jeffrey, like Mellody, has been a friend and a supporterthroughthick and thin. And I think hisplace in the entertainment industry is legendary -- I don’t needto puff him uptoo much. (Laughter.) He has a healthy sense of self. (Laughter.) But he is agreat friend and somebody whose counsel and advice I value.And I’m incredibly grateful to behere at this wonderful institution that hehelped to build
And I’ve come here today becausethis is one of America’s economic engines. Not justDreamWorks, but this whole cluster of companies thatgenerations have grown up knowing --Disney and Warner and Universal andothers. When you think about it, whatfinance is to NewYork, what the auto industry is to the Midwest, what technologyis to Northern California,entertainment is to this part of the country.
And most of us have spent a lotof time thinking about our favorite movies or TV shows,but we don’t oftenthink about the entire infrastructure and industry behind the scenes.Hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs --they’re not always on the marquee -- jobs forelectricians, and carpenters, andsound mixers, and makeup artists, and designers, andanimators depend on thisincredible industry here in southern California.
Entertainment is one of America’sbiggest exports. And every day, you sella product that’smade in America to the rest of the world. Every time somebody buys movie tickets, orDVDs, ordistribution rights to a film, some of that money goes back to thelocal economy right here.
And believe it or not,entertainment is part of our American diplomacy. It’s part of whatmakes us exceptional, partof what makes us such a world power. Youcan go anywhere on theplanet and you’ll see a kid wearing a “Madagascar”T-shirt. (Laughter.) You can say, “MaytheForce be with you” -- they know what you’re talking about. (Laughter.)
Hundreds of millions of peoplemay never set foot in the United States, but thanks to you,they’ve experienceda small part of what makes our country special. They’ve learned somethingabout our values. We have shaped a world culture through you.
And the stories that we telltransmit values and ideals about tolerance and diversity andovercomingadversity, and creativity that are part of our DNA. And as a consequence of whatyou’ve done, youhelped shape the world’s culture in a way that has made the world better.
They might not know theGettysburg Address, but if they’re watching some old movie,maybe “Guess Who’sComing to Dinner,” or “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” or “Will and Grace”and“Modern Family,” they’ve had a front-row seat to our march towards progress,even if theirown nations haven’t made that progress yet. And young people in countries all aroundtheworld suddenly make a connection and have an affinity to people who don’t looklike themand maybe originally they might have been fearful of, and nowsuddenly they say, oh, thisperson is like me -- which is one of the powers ofart, but that’s what you transmit.
And that is a remarkablelegacy. Now, it’s also a bigresponsibility. When it comes toissueslike gun violence, we’ve got to make sure that we’re not glorifying it, becausethe storiesyou tell shape our children’s outlook and their lives. Earlier this year, leaders from this townsatdown with Vice President Biden to talk about what Hollywood could do to helpkeep our kidssafe. This was in the wakeof Sandy Hook. And those conversationsneed to continue. Thestories we tellmatter. And you tell stories morepowerfully than anybody else on the Earth.
But I want to make clear, even aswe think long and hard about the messages we send, weshould never waver fromour commitment to the freedom that allows us to tell those storiessowell. Protecting our First Amendmentrights are vital to who we are. And it’salso goodbusiness, because in the global race for jobs and industries, thething we do better thananybody else is creativity. That’s something that can’t be copied. It’s one of the reasons whyeven with newmarkets and new technologies, there’s still no better place to make moviesandtelevision and music than right here in the United States.
Entertainment is one of thebright spots of our economy. The gapbetween what we can doand what other countries can do is enormous.