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Deliberatepixel / Hollywood's Code

Hollywood's Code

In 1933 an accessible synopsis of the Payne Fund Studies by journalist Henry James Forman was published under the bracing title Our Movie Made Children. The project marshaled the full weight of lab-coated social science to confirm the gut-level suspicion that the movies burrowed like termites into impressionable juvenile minds: girls took to rouge and tobacco, boys to back talk and violence, and all to disrespect and deviance.

Rouge! Back talk! Disrespect and deviance! Good heavens! Thomas Doherty examines the moral crusade that brought forth the Code of the early 1930's and the "most intrusive censorship regime in Hollywood history."

This is a fantastic article, and raises questions of the code's existing Hollywood legacy. The motion picture industry still does operate under a ratings systems that influences both film production and distribution, and that system still likes to tell us that our youth is lost if they see an actor on screen smoking, or playing a gay character. I hope someday these "threats" will seem as quaint as the ones posed by girls using rouge seem to us now.



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