Sunday, May 10, 2015

Censorship: Should We Do It Again?

If you know a bit about film history, you probably know about the Hays Code (aka Motion Picture Production Code).  It came around in the 30s after it seemed (to the people at the time) that film was running amuck.  It was a call for censorship that lasted until the mid-1960s.

Lately I've been wondering if we should bring back a modern version of the Hays Code.  My artist side is freaking out as I write this.  I think a good modern twist for the Hays Code would be to have the "risque" shows be more or less pay per view or something, instead of "Hey, its now free to watch on netflix!"

Before I really get going on this, here's the "Don't List" for the Hays Code:
  1. Pointed profanity – by either title or lip – this includes the words "God," "Lord," "Jesus," "Christ" (unless they be used reverently in connection with proper religious ceremonies), "hell," "damn," "Gawd," and every other profane and vulgar expression however it may be spelled;
  2. Any licentious or suggestive nudity – in fact or in silhouette; and any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture;
  3. The illegal traffic in drugs;
  4. Any inference of sex perversion;
  5. White slavery;
  6. Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races);
  7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases;
  8. Scenes of actual childbirth – in fact or in silhouette;
  9. Children's sex organs;
  10. Ridicule of the clergy;
  11. Willful offense to any nation, race or creed

Obviously, there are a few things that need to be changed.  I mean, we can tailor #1 and #2; get rid of #6.

Here is the "Be Careful" list from the Hays Code:
  1. The use of the flag;
  2. International relations (avoiding picturizing in an unfavorable light another country's religion, history, institutions, prominent people, and citizenry);
  3. Arson;
  4. The use of firearms;
  5. Theft, robbery, safe-cracking, and dynamiting of trains, mines, buildings, etc. (having in mind the effect which a too-detailed description of these may have upon the moron);
  6. Brutality and possible gruesomeness;
  7. Technique of committing murder by whatever method;
  8. Methods of smuggling;
  9. Third-degree methods;
  10. Actual hangings or electrocutions as legal punishment for crime;
  11. Sympathy for criminals;
  12. Attitude toward public characters and institutions;
  13. Sedition;
  14. Apparent cruelty to children and animals;
  15. Branding of people or animals;
  16. The sale of women, or of a woman selling her virtue;
  17. Rape or attempted rape;
  18. First-night scenes;
  19. Man and woman in bed together;
  20. Deliberate seduction of girls;
  21. The institution of marriage;
  22. Surgical operations;
  23. The use of drugs;
  24. Titles or scenes having to do with law enforcement or law-enforcing officers;
  25. Excessive or lustful kissing, particularly when one character or the other is a "heavy".
 It's funny how television in today's world has completely stomped all over this stuff.

I've spent some time going over crime rates in the 1940s and 1950s, the height of this censorship, in order to compare them to the last twenty years.  Our crime rates have tripled in most aspects, doubled in some.  Is this due to television and a lack of strong censorship?

I love sitting down with a full season of "Walking Dead" or "American Horror Story" or "Game of Thrones", but are they really something I'd let a high schooler watch?  Probably not.  High schoolers are pretty dumb.  I know, I was one at one point.  Actually, when I was in high school I tended to watch TGIF (Friday night family television - in case you don't know), X Night Movie (during the week there was usually a movie shown every certain night), we would rent a movie sometimes, and I loved watching old movies and tv shows.  I didn't need all the sex and violence.  I don't think it
makes it "more real" or "less real".

I want to point out that some of the best films of all time came out during the time of the Hays Code.  I think it's because people had to be more creative in order to get things across.  Here are five of my favorite films from the Hays Code days: 'Psycho', 'Dr.Strangelove', 'Wizard of Oz', 'Lawrence of Arabia', and 'The Wolf Man'.

My folks have netflix.  My mom went through and watched "Orange is The New Black".  I watched one or two episodes.  I think its a sorry excuse for a tv show.  It just seems like a way to show off lesbian sex, low intelligence, and glamorize prison life.  I also do not like "Breaking Bad".  I gave the first season a watching and was really disgusted by it.  Too much drugs, sex, degrading lifestyles, and low intelligence just makes me feel sick.

Am I the only one who feels this way?  I'm not 100% sure what to do about this, but I think something really needs to happen.

2 comments:

  1. Jessie,

    There were plenty of bad movies before the Hays code. The Hays code is what they said should and shouldn't be done. Films tended to, not so must ignore it, but definitely skirt the issues... Until the the Mcarthy HUAC hearings. Things REALLY shut down then.

    Given the connection, maybe re-instating the Hays in any form isn't really what we need. We don't need more scared creative people.

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  2. If the Hays Code was reinstated, I don't think creative people would be scared, but it is a good concern. The HUAC (House of Unamerican Activities Committee) hearings were in place because of the Cold War. Since the Cold War is over, I don't think there's anything to be scared of.

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