Movies push messages, and they're rarely morally sound

"There was a time, believe it or not, when filmmakers were literally bound by contract to produce films that were morally and ethically sound. Even Hollywood producers knew the messages people absorb via film, television, and music are hugely impactful — and they took their influence seriously." - W. Examiner

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John E.'s picture

Look, you're going to be hard-pressed to find where I've defended the contemporary film industry, but I don't believe it's helpful to view "old" Hollywood as some sort of bastion of morality and ethics, on any level. Yes, the industry had required morality codes, but just because their message was less obvious didn't mean that it didn't subtly work on the viewers. In fact, I would argue that the "clean" movies often do more damage because viewers have convinced themselves that since there's no swearing, sex, drugs, et al. it's okay to watch.

So, I would change the title of the article to, "Movies Push Messages, and They've Rarely Ever Been Morally Sound." 

Bert Perry's picture

It's worth noting that movies were NOT morally sound during the days of the Hays code.  If you doubt that, watch some of them--a lot of them are great film, but there are morally objectionable parts to a lot of them.  Hays merely limited what they could show in terms of morally objectionable parts.  

For example, one of the consistent themes of movies is the love of a virtuous woman redeeming the lovable rogue--e.g. The Music Man,  where Marion's suitor is a guy with a girl in every town in Illinois who somehow needs to find a way to sell in Iowa.  Even if people today don't get the joke, the original viewers did.  

And in our churches, how many wives of unbelievers/single moms do we care for who made the mistake of falling for the notion that the love of a virtuous woman would redeem the rogue?  Let's be honest; you don't see explicit sex scenes and gruesome violence in old movies, but the moral lessons were often pretty bad.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Cary Grant: Tell me, why are you so good to me?"

Eva Marie Saint: "Shall I climb up, and tell you why?

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Humphrey Bogart: "Haven't you tried to buy me with money, and nothing else!?"

Mary Astor: "What else is there I can buy you with?"

They kiss passionately, and the camera pans away ...

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Bacall: Speaking of horses, I like to play them myself. But I like to see them workout a little first, see if they're front runners or come from behind, find out what their hole card is, what makes them run.

Bogart: Find out mine?

Bacall: I think so.

Bogart: Go ahead.

Bacall: I'd say you don't like to be rated. You like to get out in front, open up a little lead, take a little breather in the backstretch, and then come home free.

Bogart: You don't like to be rated yourself.

Bacall: I haven't met anyone yet that can do it. Any suggestions?

Bogart: Well, I can't tell till I've seen you over a distance of ground. You've got a touch of class, but I don't know how, how far you can go.

Bacall: A lot depends on who's in the saddle.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Cary Grant plays a WW2 submarine commander, and he explains the facts of life to a group of American Army nurses who he's been forced to take on-board as he escapes from the Philippines to Darwin in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, and the subsequent attacks on American bases in the Philippines:

  • Grant: "A submarine's just not designed to be co-educational! What I mean to say is ... uh ..."
  • American nurse: "We know what you mean to say, Captain. We're well acquainted with the facts of life."
  • Grant: "So are the men, Major. I'm just trying to avoid any exchange of information!"

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

....is pushing to be kicked out of the FBFI, it seems.  :^)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

These quotes just show movies were just as immoral as ever back in the day. They just hinted at the immorality; they couldn't be blunt about it. But, it's all still right there, and everyone knew it.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?