Friday night topic: Decency and quality movies?


— 5:00 PM on March 31, 2006

With Hollywood business declining and new forms of content distribution throwing the old order into flux, EB writes with an oddly timely FNT suggestion:

Was entertainment "better" under The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 (Hays Code)? . . . Looking at current entertainment, how much, if any, do you think they had right?
If you're unfamiliar, the Wikipedia entry on the Hayes code provides a nice summary of its import and history. The code attempted to keep Hollywood movies basically wholesome and clean, but efforts to enforce it fell apart during the sixties. (Imagine that.)

My first reaction is to consider some of the code's provisions severely antiquated by current standards and the whole thing as unworkable in today's world. However, I feel myself being tugged a little in the other direction on the larger issue when I consider the entertainment I really enjoy most these days—episodic TV programs (many available on DVD) that largely wouldn't run afoul of the Hayes code's basic spirit. Indeed, such shows must meet certain standards for broadcast TV. These win my leisure time regularly over movies in the theater or on DVD. Apart from the tired arguments over censorship generally, could it be that enforcing some basic standards of decency leads to higher quality entertainment?

 
   
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