A certain political candidate several years ago spoke (ominously, in my opinion) about ‘fundamentally transforming America.” The audience, as I recall, cheered this phrase.
Any sane person should be afraid when someone offers to ‘fundamentally transform’ the world or society, especially when it’s to be an open-ended process, constant change, or what was it Chairman Mao said? “Perpetual revolution”? There’s no end to trying to ‘transform the world’; the people who want to engineer these changes are never happy or satisfied with their work; the revolution must go on. There’s still so much more ‘work that needs to be done.’
And the social engineers, as we know, are not always politicians.
Look in on Vox Day’s blog, here. Read the excerpts from a Hollywood story conference which included Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Larry Kasdan.
The year was 1978, and the story being discussed was “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Spielberg et al discuss the idea that the character Indiana Jones and his ‘love interest’ in that movie had a relationship starting when the ex-lover was very much underage. Spielberg, Lucas, and Kasdan ‘negotiate’ over just how early this relationship started; the age of eleven is suggested by Lucas, (!) and eventually they settle on a compromise: fifteen is settled on. Sixteen or seventeen? “Not interesting anymore.”
Surely they knew they couldn’t get this kind of thing accepted by the mainstream movie audiences — yet — but these people take the long view; it may take decades of slowly pushing the boundaries back, but they do it relentlessly.
The metaphor of slowly boiling the frog, though overused now, is very appropriate here.
Most people would probably classify Spielberg, Lucas, and company as being purveyors of ”family” movies, of wholesome good old-fashioned entertainment. But as someone commenting on the Vox Day thread says, Spielberg was “pushing the envelope” with his ”wholesome” movies like ET, with the foul-mouthed kids in that film. I remember some parents being shocked by the crude talk from the children in the movie, but most were willing to let it go because the movie was “cute”. This is how we’ve gotten to where we are culturally, what with increasingly vile movies being accepted by mass audiences, and our culture reflects what the movies promote: children who are ‘worldly-wise’ at a very young age, and young adults who are very much jaded and experienced before they are out of their teens.
The older generations don’t escape blame; many who grew up in a more civilized society have gradually come to accept the corrupted world that we live in now, and made their peace with it. Few people are willing to reject the values of Hollywood and the entertainment/propaganda business; people love their pop culture and their distractions.
Recently in another blog post here I referred to the fascination many young people seem to have with ‘Pre-Code’ movies, that is, movies that were made in the early talkie days, before the Hays Office began to restrict the content of movies. The Pre-Code movie devotees never get enough of railing against the Hays Office and its namesake, Will Hays. They are, to the leftist post-modern movie fan, the equivalent of the hated Joe McCarthy of the political world. The Hays Office and the McCarthy ‘witch hunts’, so-called, are a favorite bete noire of the left.
The ‘Hays Code’ or the Motion Picture Production Code is often denounced as a heavy-handed, prudish censorship which infringed on people’s ”freedoms” and stifled artistic endeavors, and thwarted creativity. It does seem odd, if these criticisms were valid, that so many of Hollywood’s best efforts were movies made during the era of the Hays Code. It’s also strange that since the rules were first, loosened, then abandoned, movies have declined, becoming ever darker and more nihilistic as well as cruder and more profane.
For years I’ve been saying, when hearing of Hollywood’s latest over-hyped sleaze, ”how much worse can it get”? And I keep being surprised at how the movie moguls seem to outdo themselves in producing something worse, because that seems to be their mission: to drag society down to the gutter level at which the movie industry seems to operate. They are succeeding, and it seems to me that even the fact that movie attendance seems to be declining for some years does not discourage them. They are on a mission, and even shrinking profits don’t seem to daunt them.
The Hays Office and the Code, far from being villains as most movie fans seem to believe, served a good purpose for as long as it lasted. America — and the post-Christian West generally, was already in a moral crisis after World War I in particular. The ‘Roaring 20s’ are an example of how sexual morals became lax; drug and alcohol abuse and all the accompanying problems weakened us in many ways. Societies which are hedonistic and libertine are rarely, if ever, strong and powerful. Dissolute societies are always prey for invasion and conquest.
If not for the Hays Code, Spielberg, Lucas, and Kasdan would not have been having their discussion about how young the ‘love interest’ of Indiana Jones could have been — because by that time, had not the movie moguls been compelled to ‘clean up their act’, we would long since have had movies featuring “inter-generational love” or ”zoophilia” or whatever other euphemisms they’ve dreamed up for these various deviancies. The Hays Office was fighting a sort of rearguard action against the trends, which were already present in 1930s America. They at least bought us some time in which the worst tendencies of Hollywood were kept restrained to some extent, imperfectly. But that was better than nothing, better than just letting Hollywood and the rest of the ”entertainment” world run amok, as now, transforming our society at will, with our complicity.