Have You Ever Seen a Communist Read Porno, Mandrake?
Via Patri Friedman at Catallarchy comes a truly mind-blowing (sorry, mind "boggling"… there might be children reading) 1965 film which some wise soul has put online in full for posterity: Perversion for Profit. Narrated by "outstanding news reporter" George Putnam, P for P is an anti-smut jeremiad underwritten by the "Citizens for Decent Literature," an organization, incidentally, founded by Charles Keating, whose last name became a moniker for five senators investigated for influence-peddling in connection with the Lincoln Savings & Loan scandal. (This, presumably, is how Sen. John McCain learned firsthand about the corrupting influence of money in poltics.)
This is such a target-rich environment that it's hard to know where to begin. There's the fantastic assertion right out of the gate that "we know that once a person is perverted, it is almost impossible for that person to adjust to normal attitudes" (one can only hope). There's the priceless claim that smut "weakens our resistance to the onslaught of the communist masters of deceit." The writers advance the… telling… theory that looking at pictures of scantily-clad muscular men will inexorably awaken powerful homoerotic urges in straight guys. We learn that "this same type of rot and decay caused 16 of the 19 major civilizations to vanish from the earth." And there's the dubious legal theory that "we have a Constituional guarantee of protection against obscenity." Whatever consultants came up with the film's stripped-down notion of the First Amendment's application to erotic material clearly should have heeded Tom Lehrer's summary:
As the judge remarked the day that he acquitted my Aunt Hortense,
"To be smut
It must be ut-
Terly without redeeming social importance."
The best part, of course, is that the bulk of the film is devoted to parading across the screen example after example after example of the kind of terrible, terrible filth that even now is being perused by perverts at your corner newsstand. In most cases, tiny virtual pasties obscure the naughty bits (though now and then the filmmakers "forget")—as well as, intriguingly enough, the models' eyes. (Presumably, if you're sufficiently repressed that you need to absorb your quota of salacious stimulus in the guise of a sensational cautionary filmstrip—a genre explored in Reason by Joe Bob Briggs a few years back—even the objectifying gaze of a cheesecake pinup in a photograph might trigger a shame response.) The only surprising thing is that people were able to kid themselves about what they were doing when they walked into the theater. It's almost as transparent as if someone had rounded up all the most lurid stuff broadcast on television in the last few weeks and made it available in one place under the pretense of allowing bluenoses to express their outrage. You know, like the Parents Television Council did until recently—presumably Brent Bozell at long last developed an irony detector.
But it gets better, gentle reader, so very much better. It appears that at "92 years young," George Putnam is still kicking, and penning a regular column for crank clearinghouse NewsMax.com. These days his ire seems to be primarily reserved for flag burners, "the merchants of cannabis," and above all—week after week after week—for the brown menace teeming at our southern border. (A new tenth circle of hell seems to have been opened and reserved for my onetime political science prof and former Mexian foreign minister Jorge Castañda.) In a surprising number, Putnam finds some excuse to refer to one of his famous "old and dear friends," from Jack Webb and Milton Berle to Richard Nixon. Now and again, I should note, he's tossed off one I agreed with: He shows a veteran's chariness of enthusiasm for preemptive wars, and is surprisingly hostile to the idea of writing hetero-only marriage into the Constitution, despite having warned in the film of sexual "misfits" hoping to "entice" your sons and daughters into their perverted lifestyles. But even then, he writes in a tone that manages to effortlessly evoke the same earnest stentorian voice from the film—the voice of a man confident he need not bother with persuasion, because he only articulates the latent moral indignation of every decent American. (I want to believe he uses the same tone to chase neighborhood scalawags off his lawn.) The result is an almost hypnotic collection of unintentional camp. Go read, and feel the vigor return to your precious bodily fluids. [Cross-posted @ NftL]
Addendum: Once you've seen the original, check out the pro-porn propaganda remix, Come Join the Fun!