Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Motion Picture Code of 1930

In 1930 Hollywood Studios adopted the so-called 'Hayes Code', a self-imposed code to govern the content of Motion Picture producers. After receiving public and political backlash due to a series of scandals and risque films in the 1920's, the studios enlisted Will Hays to rehabilitate Hollywood's image. Hays, a former official in President Harding's administration, was also a Presbyterian elder who was deeply influenced by Christian morality and ethics.  Hollywood was not really interested in morality, as their main concern was to avoid direct governmental censorship. 

The 'Hays Code' below, officially called the Motion Picture Code of 1930, was the industry standard until the 1960s when it was formally set aside. This doesn't mean that Hollywood always followed the code. In fact, immediately after its implementation it was publicly ridiculed and openly flouted. However, it did remain on objective standard that Motion Picture companies felt compelled to follow, or at the very least connive to get around.

I've copied the first portion of the code below (the part that lists specific rules). When I first read through it I was floored by how Hollywood has completely caste any remnant of this code aside. I was also shocked to find openly shameful practices mandated, such as a ban on mixed racial relationships. Despite its glaring defects, it does reflect a time when our society held certain standards, and a time when Hollywood felt compelled to bow to those standards, even if they themselves didn't hold them.

Click here to read the full Motion Picture Code of 1930.

The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 (Hays Code)
If motion pictures present stories that will affect lives for the better, they can become the most powerful force for the improvement of mankind.

A Code to Govern the Making of Talking, Synchronized and Silent Motion Pictures. Formulated and formally adopted by The Association of Motion Picture Producers, Inc. and The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc. in March 1930.

Motion picture producers recognize the high trust and confidence which have been placed in them by the people of the world and which have made motion pictures a universal form of entertainment.
They recognize their responsibility to the public because of this trust and because entertainment and art are important influences in the life of a nation.

Hence, though regarding motion pictures primarily as entertainment without any explicit purpose of teaching or propaganda, they know that the motion picture within its own field of entertainment may be directly responsible for spiritual or moral progress, for higher types of social life, and for much correct thinking.
During the rapid transition from silent to talking pictures they have realized the necessity and the opportunity of subscribing to a Code to govern the production of talking pictures and of re-acknowledging this responsibility.
On their part, they ask from the public and from public leaders a sympathetic understanding of their purposes and problems and a spirit of cooperation that will allow them the freedom and opportunity necessary to bring the motion picture to a still higher level of wholesome entertainment for all the people.

General Principles
1. No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin.
2. Correct standards of life, subject only to the requirements of drama and entertainment, shall be presented.
3. Law, natural or human, shall not be ridiculed, nor shall sympathy be created for its violation.

Particular Applications

I. Crimes Against the Law
These shall never be presented in such a way as to throw sympathy with the crime as against law and justice or to inspire others with a desire for imitation.

1. Murder
  a. The technique of murder must be presented in a way that will not inspire imitation.
  b. Brutal killings are not to be presented in detail.
  c. Revenge in modern times shall not be justified.
2. Methods of Crime should not be explicitly presented.
  a. Theft, robbery, safe-cracking, and dynamiting of trains, mines, buildings, etc., should not be detailed in method.
  b. Arson must subject to the same safeguards.
  c. The use of firearms should be restricted to the essentials.
  d. Methods of smuggling should not be presented.
3. Illegal drug traffic must never be presented.
4. The use of liquor in American life, when not required by the plot or for proper characterization, will not be shown.

II. Sex
The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld. Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing.

1. Adultery, sometimes necessary plot material, must not be explicitly treated, or justified, or presented attractively.
2. Scenes of Passion
  a. They should not be introduced when not essential to the plot.
  b. Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown.
  c. In general passion should so be treated that these scenes do not stimulate the lower and baser element.
3. Seduction or Rape
  a. They should never be more than suggested, and only when essential for the plot, and even then never shown by explicit method.
  b. They are never the proper subject for comedy.
4. Sex perversion or any inference to it is forbidden.
5. White slavery shall not be treated.
6. Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races) is forbidden.
7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases are not subjects for motion pictures.
8. Scenes of actual child birth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented.
9. Children's sex organs are never to be exposed.

III. Vulgarity
The treatment of low, disgusting, unpleasant, though not necessarily evil, subjects should always be subject to the dictates of good taste and a regard for the sensibilities of the audience.

IV. Obscenity
Obscenity in word, gesture, reference, song, joke, or by suggestion (even when likely to be understood only by part of the audience) is forbidden.

V. Profanity
Pointed profanity (this includes the words, God, Lord, Jesus, Christ - unless used reverently - Hell, S.O.B., damn, Gawd), or every other profane or vulgar expression however used, is forbidden.

VI. Costume
1. Complete nudity is never permitted. This includes nudity in fact or in silhouette, or any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture.

2. Undressing scenes should be avoided, and never used save where essential to the plot.
3. Indecent or undue exposure is forbidden.
4. Dancing or costumes intended to permit undue exposure or indecent movements in the dance are forbidden.

VII. Dances
1. Dances suggesting or representing sexual actions or indecent passions are forbidden.

2. Dances which emphasize indecent movements are to be regarded as obscene.

VIII. Religion
1. No film or episode may throw ridicule on any religious faith.

2. Ministers of religion in their character as ministers of religion should not be used as comic characters or as villains.
3. Ceremonies of any definite religion should be carefully and respectfully handled.

IX. Locations
The treatment of bedrooms must be governed by good taste and delicacy.

X. National Feelings
1. The use of the Flag shall be consistently respectful.

2. The history, institutions, prominent people and citizenry of other nations shall be represented fairly.

XI. Titles
Salacious, indecent, or obscene titles shall not be used.

XII. Repellent Subjects
The following subjects must be treated within the careful limits of good taste:
1. Actual hangings or electrocutions as legal punishments for crime.
2. Third degree methods.
3. Brutality and possible gruesomeness.
4. Branding of people or animals.
5. Apparent cruelty to children or animals.
6. The sale of women, or a woman selling her virtue.
7. Surgical operations.

HT: Ben Foote 

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Dangerous and Forbidden Shortcut

John Stott:
To search for [Scripture's] contemporary message without first wrestling with its original meaning is to attempt a forbidden short cut.
It dishonours God (disregarding his chosen way of revealing himself in particular historical and cultural contexts),
it misuses his Word (treating it like an almanac or book of magic spells) and
it misleads his people (confusing them about how to interpret Scripture).
—John Stott, Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1982), p. 221.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


For those reading this on Facebook you need to go directly to my blog to watch the video. www.joshgelatt.com

Friday, September 9, 2011

Parents, Teachers, and ADHD

First off, I believe in ADHD. I also believe there is such a thing as mental illness. Yes, I am a trained and licensed counselor who operates solely from a biblical perspective. Yet I've never understood that small portion within the biblical counseling world that will accept that our kidneys can go bad but insist that any problem with our brain must somehow really be a spiritual problem. Over the years I've counseled people who truly had PSTD, ADHD, Bi-polar, Histronic personality disorder, Antisocial personality disorder, Obsesive-compulsive anxiety, Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform, and Schizoaffective disorder (yes, those last three are different)...among many other issues.

Yes, some of these are clearly related to environment (the family system, personal history, etc). But others cannot be explained away so easily. ADHD and depression can stem from physical factors (such as a chemical problem in the brain) just like they can stem from spiritual or environmental factors.  There are real people who need real medicine to deal effectively with real emotional, psychological, and mental issues. I say all that to simply emphasize I am not anti-medicine.

However, I would be first in line to protest the culture of overdiagnosis. I've seen far too many people get a highly questionable label slapped on them or their child and view it as a "get-out-of-personal-responsibility card". Perhaps the worst offender is the educational system. Though many public teachers inappropriately push for a diagnosis, the problem is more with the broader educational and social service oligarchy (after all, the teacher is just trying to deal with an out-of-control kid). Caseworkers and mental-health professionals assume the problem must be medical. Of course, their bias refuses to allow a possible spiritual cause, and claiming it to be an environmental (e.g. family system) issue is to make a moral claim of superiority (e.g your not disciplining your child) which our current cultural commitment to relativism cannot endorse. So, instead we slap a label, assign a medication, and stupefy a kid needlessly.

With all of that in mind, I found the sad humor in the quote below, taken from a recent cnn.com article. A parent wrote:
"I have an active 6-year-old and so far our experience includes kindergarten and first grade. Both years the teachers kept pushing us to test for ADHD because our 5-, and then 6-year-old couldn't sit still for 45 minutes, said he prefers to play, wanted to talk, etc. Well, we finally gave in, spent our vacation money on three sessions with a behavioral therapist and our kid was 'diagnosed' with being a 6-year-old kid."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My view of the GOP candidates

For almost a year now I've taken Thursday as my day off. I used this morning to catch up on last night's GOP debate. Here is my brief analysis of the candidates, feel free to offer comment or corrective. At this point I'm just listening and learning, and have not settled on any candidate.

Ron Paul: I agree with many of his strict-Constitutional views. He is a champion of personal liberty and States rights. For example, Paul has a beautiful solution to our country's current marriage-definition crisis: get the government out of the business of issuing marriage licenses. Paul correctly understands this is a personal and church issue, not a government issue. However, Paul is extreme and quirky. Anyone who believes cocaine should be legal or that we shouldn't intervene in atrocities such as Darfur has already lost touch with reality. It is embarrassing that he is even on that stage, but it is equally embarrassing that the other candidates don't agree more with his Constitutional views.

Newt Gingrich: He is a legislative master. In that arena he is by far the most effective person on the stage. But as a legislative fighter, he is far too combative to be our President. He lacks the ability to offer a positive "Reagan-esque" vision forward. He would be an excellent advisor to the President on legislative issues.

Michelle Bauchman: Of all the candidates, she is the strongest regarding the sanctity of life and affirming historical marriage. In terms of her basic worldview, all Christians should love Congresswoman Bauchman. However, as a junior legislator she has accomplished almost nothing in that role. As President she would accomplish even less. She typifies all of the Tea Party's angst but lacks the ability to move us beyond that.

Jon Huntsman: I utterly disagree with many of this man's policies, and he seems more democratic than republican. In terms of a Christian worldview, he is the most far afield of any candidate. Yet, he is also the most articulate and accomplished of all the candidates. He understands government and foreign relations. If your looking for a "barely-to-the-right" and "almost-a-democrat" type of candidate, then I suppose Huntsman is your man.

Herman Cain: He is brilliant and has offered a clear approach forward for our economy. But the country isn't a corporation and the President isn't a CEO. Nothing in Cain's (otherwise wonderful) plan indicates he understands this. It sounds good on paper, but we must remember the President has to work with both the legislative and judicial branches of our government. Cain is unable to do this. More importantly, Cain only brings economic focus to the table. The country is much bigger than the economy. While he may be useful as a consultant, he is woefully inadequate as as our top leader.

Rick Santorum:  He is ignored by both the media and Republicans in general for good reason: although he basic ideas are good, he lacks the maturity and charisma to lead our country. Yet he stands firm on the basic moral issues of our country, and for that reason should be praised. He is also the most personable and down-to-earth. He would be a great choice for a cabinet position. In years to come we might see greater things from him.

Rick Perry: The current front runner and quite possibly the one who will take the nomination. Nevertheless, I was very disappointed. Perry offered nothing but talking points: no clear vision, no articulate statements, no concrete way forward. We must see more from him if he is going to be the bold visionary leader we so desperately need.

Mitt Romney: I have been opposed to Romney since day one.  The last thing I want to do is affirm a cult leader for President. His flip-flopping on moral issues (seemingly for political gain) is appalling. Yet Romney has acted the most presidential of all the candidates. Its becoming harder and harder for me to avoid leaning towards Romney. I do believe he is the best candidate to tackle the issues of the economy and health care, and he is able to criticize while also offering a positive vision forward. Yet on the latter issue while I do believe he would champion State rights I question his basic commitment to personal liberty.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Obama is not a Muslim...its worse than that

Obama's recent decision to exclude Evangelicals from the 9/11 memorial should come as no surprise. It will, however, include an Episcopalian bishop, a rabbi, a Buddhist nun (who is also an "incarnate lama"), a Hindu priest, and the president of the Islamic Society of North America.

Despite the mainline media's attempt to bend over backwards telling us that Obama is a Christian, most Americans see through the cheap plastic Protestant mask Obama likes to wear. Only about 37% of Americans view the President as a Christian.

While most correctly understand what he is not, many incorrectly mistake what he truly is. Many within the Christian community still hold on to the unfounded belief that our President is a Muslim. I have dear Christian friends who get angry at any suggestion that he is not. With that view stubbornly held, they invent all sorts of conspiracy theories as to how Obama is going to turn us into a Muslim nation.

This troubles me, because is demonstrates how the conservative Christian community can so easily lack discernment. Reality is before our eyes, but we choose to wear the blinders of irrational sensationalism. I wrote the article printed below back when Senator Obama was campaigning to be President. I still stand by this assessment.

The Christian community is currently in a stir over the likely presidency of Barack Obama. As I analyze the Christian reaction to Senator Obama, it seems believers have invented a phantom to fear, while ignoring the raging elephant in the room. 
The Phantom: Barack Obama is secretly a devout muslim who will install Islamic law once elected President. His "Muslim-sounding" name, along with some association with Islam in his childhood home, is enough to rekindle the Medieval fears of the invasion of the Turks. I spoke with one pastor several days ago who has a ministry with Muslims in the Detroit area. He is convinced that Obama's seeming liberalism is merely a "cover" for his extreme Islamic beliefs. I receive countless e-mails with similar statements, and blogs are quick to make such connections. While it is true that Obama had strong exposure to Islam in his family, it is also true this was a very liberal version of Islam. Obama's family was marked more by agnosticism (both Christian and Islamic versions) than anything that resembled devout faith. Entire sectors of the Christian community have become obsessed with a non-existent phantom. Because of this, they have missed the real danger---which is the elephant in the room! 
The Elephant: Barack Obama is a committed secular humanist who will use the language of religion (any religion) while simultaneously undermining the role of religion in the fabric of our culture. Secular humanism is the philosophical school to which Obama is fanatically committed. To secular humanists, religion is the 'opium of the people'. Unlike the radical Marx who sought to undo faith via a frontal assault, Obama is willing to use the language of religion to acheive his political ambitions while simultaneously shifting religion into a position of cultural irrelevance. Never before in our country's history have we encountered a presidential candidate who used so much religious language while meaning it so very little. Everything Obama has said indicates he is no friend to true faith, and actually views it as an enemy that must be sequestered and controlled.
Senator Obama has many admirable qualities. When comparing apples to apples, there is much to make the Illinois senator worthy of consideration to be the next president of the United States. Conservatives rightly abhor his extreme support of abortion rights. That should be, in and of itself, enough to make many professing believers in Jesus run the other direction on election day. However, there is a more subtle evil that too many Christians fail to recognize. Underneath the eloquence, behind the 'presidential demeanor', and just beyond the intellectual competence is a marxist/humanistic worldview that is the most rabidly anti-religious system of thought in the history of humanity. 
Obama is not a Muslim. It would be much safer if he were.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Twisted ministry

Russel Moore, in a recent sermon on 2 Corinthians 5, made the following comment:

In most churches you can say whatever degrading thing you want about sinners and the sinfulness of the world and no one will budge. But if you say anything bad about Sarah Palin there will be an uproar. That is twisted. Christians get offended when Dwarwinist mock our fish symbol with the Darwin fish, so we create bumper stickers of a bigger Christian fish swallowing the Darwin fish. That is not Gospel ministry.

Pray instead that we have a heart that is zealous to reconcile the lost to Christ, not to mock them, condemn them, or complain about them. Those that care so little for the sea of lost souls falling off the edge of Christless eternity may one day tumble over that very precipice themselves.