Freedom

Sex, Communism, Race, and Creative Freedom in Hollywood

Like the Hays Code and Waldorf Statement before it, new diversity requirements are Tinseltown's way of asserting cultural dominance through self-policing.

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In 1934, the creative freedom of unconstrained Hollywood came to a halt, setting the stage for decades of self-serving attempts at internal censorship and creative control.

Until then, filmmakers went about their business more or less unchecked, pushing the era's moral limits with bawdy humor, violent crime, and sexual provocation. There was James Cagney swaggering and shooting his way through The Public Enemy (1931), a portrait of a bootlegging gangster who built an empire out of "beer and blood" (and famously assaulted his nagging girlfriend at the breakfast table with a grapefruit to the face). There was Barbara Stanwyck sleeping her way to success in Baby Face (1933), leaving a trail of heartbroken (and sometimes dead) lovers in her lusty wake. There was adultery! Abortion! Profanity! Visible undergarments! At the end, righteousness would usually prevail—the antihero would repent and reform or die trying—but this was strictly perfunctory. Then, as now, audiences loved a story that made being bad look good. And then, as now, the popularity of sensational and sexy movies began to raise questions about their effect on impressionable viewers.

Amid a climate of concern that edgy films might spark immoral behavior, and with the threat of government censorship close behind, Hollywood set out to get ahead of the game. In 1927, a committee of studio execs, at the behest of a freshly anointed industry honcho named Will H. Hays, had already collaborated to publish a now-infamous list of "don'ts and be carefuls," a 37-item litany of topics that filmmakers agreed would be either approached with caution or avoided entirely.

The taboos were numerous and wide-ranging: "Sexual perversion," drug use, miscegenation, and profanity (including irreligious exclamations of "My God!") were completely off-limits, while a soft touch was urged when depicting murder techniques, law enforcement, or (my favorite) portrayals of safecracking or dynamiting, due to "the effect which a too-detailed description of these may have upon the moron." Initially toothless, in 1934 the list evolved into the powerful Motion Picture Production Code, Hollywood's most famous and most restrictive self-censorship mechanism.

Today, the Production Code is gone. But its spirit lives on—not in taboos and restrictions about what filmmakers can't say or show, but in guidelines and expectations about what morally upstanding, socially conscious filmmaking ought to be.

It's against this backdrop that Hollywood makes its latest foray into content restriction with a new set of diversity standards for Oscar-eligible films, which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced in September. Starting in 2024, best picture nominees will be required to comply with what amount to quotas for race, sexuality, and gender. The move is part of what the Academy describes as a bid to bring more diversity to the casts, crews, and storylines that receive its highest honor.

The new requirements come in the wake of considerable struggles for the industry body. In 2015 and 2016, an all-white slate of acting nominees prompted viral outrage in the form of the #OscarsSoWhite backlash; in 2017 and 2018, the yearly awards show was haunted by the ghost of Harvey Weinstein, who had been the recipient of many a gushing thank you from the Oscars stage before he was righteously toppled by the #MeToo movement. The ceremony itself, meanwhile, has struggled for years to find a host unproblematic enough to please the Twitter crowd but charismatic enough to reverse an embarrassing year-over-year ratings drop, fueled by a sense that the Oscars are increasingly elitist, self-indulgent, and shrilly political in a way that's unrelatable and irritating to normie audiences.

Add to this the ongoing, fractious internal battles within the Academy over the encroachment of Netflix and other new-kid studios into their prestigious club, and you've got a perfect storm of scrutiny—the type Hollywood has always sought to preempt with the shiny new promise of self-regulation. The standard practice in the past has been to throw a bone to Hollywood's critics, who can then squabble over it while the real power players go back to business as usual. Or at least, that's the idea.

In a way, these battles represent a new front in Hollywood's diversity wars. But in another sense, they are nothing novel. The Academy was formed in tandem with Hollywood's early content code, and it has been enmeshed in battles over what constitutes acceptable or desirable on-screen content—a matter in which the film industry has always yearned to both eat its cake and have it. Hollywood wants to wield total creative control and unimpeachable moral authority, to wag its finger out in public before retreating to backroom debauchery, to be seen as an idealistic protector of the arts against the forces of censorship and conformity while keeping box-office cash coming.

And like the Code that ruled during its Golden Age, Hollywood's signature awards ceremony isn't just a glitzy vehicle for celebrating Tinseltown's best; it's about control. The imprimatur of the Academy is a powerful influence on filmmakers' output and public perceptions of the movie business alike, but more than that, it imagines Hollywood as an arbiter of goodness. What must we say? How should we live? What moves us to fear, to tears, to disgust? Sit back, let the lights go down, and await further instructions.

The Trial of Fatty Arbuckle

The Hays Code ushered in a golden era of morally conscious filmmaking—or so the industry claimed, even as directors found ever more creative ways to remain compliant to the letter of the law while simultaneously thumbing their noses at its spirit.

Alfred Hitchcock was particularly masterful at tweaking the censors. Many of his films initially contained extravagantly vulgar material that was meant to be cut, the better to pack more coded transgression into the finished product. In To Catch a Thief, for instance, the camera cuts from a canoodling Cary Grant and Grace Kelly to an explosive fireworks display outside their window, a totally unsubtle suggestion that sexual ecstasy is occurring just out of frame. Hitchcock supposedly slid it past the censors by agreeing to cut a far more in-your-face gag involving police officers and a collection of salacious postcards. And then there were the elaborate workarounds, as in the Notorious scene where Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman ingeniously skirt the edict against "lustful kissing" by nuzzling each other's faces for four excruciatingly erotic minutes while only allowing their lips to actually touch for a couple seconds at a time.

But more than an opportunity for either moral grandstanding or cheeky rule-flouting, the Code was a vehicle for the anxieties, prejudices, and political concerns of its time—and an early exercise in Hollywood's ongoing creative maneuvering to maintain a pretense of compliance without actually sacrificing its freedoms, its power, or its profits.

Despite all that lofty language about the dangers of depicting bad acts on screen, it wasn't the ideologically malleable morons in the audience the movie moguls truly feared. It was overreaching government and meddlesome activists, always seeking to stick their noses into Hollywood's business.

In the early 1920s, anti-Hollywood sentiment was on the rise, and state legislators were introducing movie censorship bills by the dozens as political pressure mounted to do something about its destructive influence. By the 1930s, the threat of federal censorship loomed as well.

The anger was fueled by a sensational proto-#MeToo scan-dal surrounding actor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, who was indicted for manslaughter in the death of actress Virginia Rappe. Rappe died of a ruptured bladder after attending a party in Arbuckle's hotel suite, an illegally booze-soaked affair in the midst of Prohibition, and rumors quickly spread (with no small amount of help from the press) that she had been lethally crushed by the 260-pound Arbuckle as he attempted to rape her.

Arbuckle was acquitted after three trials, but he became a public mascot—and eventually the scapegoat—for the industry's moral turpitude. Religious associations and women's groups formed an alliance to demand that the actor be permanently banned from the screen, a campaign with eerie parallels to 2020's debates about when (or if) someone accused of #MeToo infractions, such as Louis C.K. or Aziz Ansari, should be permitted to return to work; a 1922 New York Times report quotes a Mrs. Trueworthy White, chairman of the Citizens' Committee of the Massachusetts League of Women Voters, saying that she "could not understand how anybody could be interested in Mr. Arbuckle anymore."

The Hays Code, then, was pure calculation: a self-inflicted wound to preclude the greater nuisance of meddlers from outside the system, lest Arbuckle and other scandals become a tipping point for the government to seize control of the film industry. Agreeing to police itself from inside the house allowed Hollywood to stay in control and in the black, placating critics with anti-kissing regulations and morality clauses—and blithely throwing stars like Arbuckle under the bus—while keeping its backrooms and shady business practices free from prying eyes.

And they did it over and over, from censoring the pre-Code film All Quiet on the Western Front so as not to offend Nazi sensibilities to blacklisting alleged Communists in an effort to avoid government investigation or interference.

McCarthy at the Movies

In 1947, two decades after studio heads first convened to create the "don'ts and be carefuls," another emerging threat prompted promises of self-regulation from the film industry—this time in the form of the Waldorf Statement, a press release from the Motion Picture Association of America vowing "positive action" against "alleged subversive and disloyal elements in Hollywood." Again, the motivation was as much economics as it was self-protection. The film industry had just incurred an intrusive investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), so it was feeling political pressure to act. But its loyalty oath also kept Hollywood in the good graces of influential private groups, like the American Legion, which was threatening boycotts of films and theaters it deemed to be in cahoots with the commies.

The Academy went along to get along when it came to the Hollywood blacklist, in keeping with the principles of its founder, MGM bigwig Louis B. Mayer. Long before McCarthyism reared its head, Mayer had been unnerved by the rising power of Hollywood unions. He hoped to preempt their influence by drawing actors, directors, writers, and other creative professionals into a desirable club of his own creation.

 The Academy was specifically designed to undercut workers' interest in organizing. The Oscars kept them distracted and cooperative while the studios stayed in control. Mayer famously bragged about how he used the promise of a spangly gala and a golden statuette to manipulate filmmakers: "If I got them cups and awards, they'd kill themselves to produce what I wanted."

There were to be no cups or awards for Communists, of course. In the wake of the Waldorf Statement, the Academy added its own stamp of moral approval to the blacklist, excluding "subversives" from Oscar eligibility while also lauding the figures who cooperated. While blacklisted writers went to prison or fled the country and struggled to eke out a living on the fringes, HUAC informants Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg received Academy Awards for On the Waterfront, a film that starred fellow "friendly witness" Lee J. Cobb and whose storyline about whistleblowing against corrupt union bosses is widely understood to be a thinly veiled apologia for the filmmakers' choices to name names. According to Kazan, Marlon Brando's famous line—"I'm glad what I done!"— is "me saying, with identical heat, that I was glad I'd testified as I had." Perhaps needless to say, Kazan's defense of the blacklist, which was itself a vehicle for the most un-American sort of thought policing and censorship, hasn't aged well; when he received a lifetime achievement Oscar in 1999, roughly half of the audience sat on their hands and did not applaud.

It took 10 years (and the embarrassment of accidentally awarding the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo a screenwriting Oscar for a film written under a false name) before the anti-Communist cultural hegemony began to crack—at which point Hollywood stopped stoking fears about the Red Menace and, eventually, started making films about heroic speech warriors standing up to authoritarian overreach.

The HUAC witch hunts are long since over, and the draconian Hays restrictions have long since been replaced by the MPAA rating system; one might imagine that the bad old days of censorship are behind us. But even now, filmmakers still self-censor, or seek creative workarounds for edgy content, in order to snag a less restrictive rating that yields bigger numbers at the box office.

And while the studio system of old-school Hollywood has long since disappeared, corporate influence remains strong. If the studio execs see an economic benefit to certain content restrictions, filmmakers have little choice but to fall in line. Disney, for instance, holds its directors to three strict taboos: no beheadings, no impalement, and no smoking—unless it's portrayed "in an unfavorable light." The Hays Code is gone, but the instincts that fueled it are still firmly ingrained.

Content Code Protectionism

This century-long tug of war for control—the power to decide which stories get told, and how, and by whom—is crucial context for the latest content code to make waves in Hollywood.

The Academy, which today is made up of about 10,000 members from various parts of the film industry, will soon require best picture hopefuls to check the box in two of four categories. The first, "Onscreen Representation, Themes and Narratives," drew the most attention for what seemed like an eyebrow-raising level of interference in the creative process, with the capacity to influence the content and/or casting of films. But a close read of the new standards reveals that they'll be relatively easy to meet for most filmmakers, particularly those with major studio support—which is, of course, the point: Hollywood's content codes have long served as protectionism for the industry's major players.

Much like the Hays Code, the Academy's diversity standards dropped at a pivotal moment, amid a resurgence of anti–Hollywood sentiment—this time surrounding perceived shortcomings in matters of diversity, representation, and social justice. It's one of many ways in which the Academy and its codes are historically intertwined, a relationship that has displayed remarkable longevity even as notions of morality and quality continue to evolve.

 As recently as 10 years ago, Hollywood's power still consolidated into a more or less familiar loop: The studios decided which movies get made, while the Academy steered our notion of which movies are good, in multiple senses of the word. Today, the Academy Awards are as much about signaling Hollywood's political and cultural correctness as they are about rewarding exceptional filmmaking (see: Al Gore, Oscar winner).

The film industry's ability to keep its hands on the cultural controls depends on preserving this dynamic. For the Academy to find itself on the wrong side of history, pummeled by the double whammy of #OscarsSoWhite and the #MeToo movement, is not just embarrassing but threatening—particularly at a moment when the culture at large seems to be taking a great leap forward. And while "cups and awards" might have kept filmmakers in thrall for decades, creative and critical power isn't concentrated the way it used to be.

While Steven Spielberg was throwing a tantrum over letting Netflix into the Oscars, Martin Scorsese made the streaming service the home for his latest three-hour moody mafia flick. Digital technology and smartphones have drastically lowered the bar for budget filmmaking and attracted experimental-minded auteurs like Steven Soderbergh, while the proliferation of on-demand and streaming media creates a massive glut of new content, more than any one person could ever consume.

The challenge this year is even greater, as COVID-19 has shuttered theaters in major markets, delayed tentpole releases, and left Hollywood without its usual abundance of popular and prestigious films to award. The Oscars have already been delayed and the deadline for entrants pushed back. The requirement that movies debut theatrically in order to qualify for awards, a massive source of conflict in years past, has been dropped without fanfare or objection (albeit with promises that it's just this once).

But even before the coronavirus killed the movie theater, the balance of power was shifting as distributors experimented with simultaneous on-demand releases—and as small-screen production values were giving Hollywood blockbusters a run for their money. Prestige filmmakers, actors, and writers are increasingly turning to television, where anthology-style series let them stretch a story over 10 luxurious hours. And a cultural discourse that used to be driven by elite tastemakers is now happening largely on social media, where even Hollywood's critical darlings can be destroyed by viral backlash.

Amid all this change, the new Oscars diversity standards are a plea to be left alone and in controla way of saying: See, you can trust us! We're the good guys!—before the next hashtag-driven controversy forces them to start policing the filmmaking process in more intrusive, and less financially comfortable, ways.

But they're also a last-ditch play for continued relevance from an industry that still sees itself as a vital engine for social change, that can't quite fathom how it fell behind the times. At a time of enormous unrest and uncertainty that has shaken some of the country's most storied institutions at their foundations—and in an era when diversity and inclusion is such a brand necessity that even Doritos has announced a partnership with Black Lives Matter—there's a palpable desperation at the idea that Hollywood might have lost its place as an influencer.

Like the Hays Code before it, the diversity requirements are Tinseltown's way of asserting cultural dominance through self-policing in a time of cultural and economic turbulence. The new requirements work the way the Oscars have always worked: by setting an agenda, and by defining what high-quality, culturally important filmmaking looks like. Only this time, instead of telling filmmakers what they can't say, they're instructing producers, writers, and directors—those who aspire to Hollywood's commanding heights, anyway—what they have to say, and in turn, instructing American viewers as to what they're supposed to think.

It's an attempt to enforce cultural hegemony by an industry increasingly anxious about its status. After all, movies have been moving the needle on our moral compass for a hundred years. Could so much have changed? Surely Twitter has not replaced Tinseltown as the nexus of cultural power. Surely America still needs Hollywood to tell us what's good, what's beautiful, what's right. Because if not Hollywood, who? Won't someone please think of the morons?

NEXT: Biden Promises To 'Manage the Hell Out' of the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

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102 responses to “Sex, Communism, Race, and Creative Freedom in Hollywood

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  2. There’s a reason it’s called Hollyweird – these people are degenerates and moral defectives, drug abusers, alcoholics, womanizers, whores and perverts, and yet they presume to lecture us on matters of morality. Nothing worse than being condescended to by your inferiors.

    1. Hey now, there’s no need to insult sex workers by associating them with Hollywood. I mean, whores are honest about their intentions.

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    3. You forgot pedophiles. Open secret.

      1. And, from what I understand, a high proportion of just general jerks too. People with a high degree of contempt for those whose money pays them.

        It also seems that a lot of people who achieve great success in any type of entertainment develop fragile egos too. Like pleasing 90% of the audience 90% of the time isn’t enough for them, they’re bugged by those who don’t credit every bit of every performance as the best ever.

        1. I was never going to be an actor, but I blundered into a supporting part in a play in college. Almost everybody else in the cast were Theater Majors. Such a collection of emotionally damaged approval-junkies you never did see. The whole thing was a lark for me, but to the theater students it was a line on their resume, and were they serious about it! One cast-mate with a smaller part was plainly jealous, and complained that I was keeping guys like him from getting ahead. These weren’t untalented people. One of the male leads went on to win a Tony award years later. He actually seemed like the most level-headed of the bunch, and passed along handy tips to a tyro.

          Don’t forget that politics is show business for ugly people. Plenty of approval-addicts there, too!

      2. Nonononono…
        Sqrlsy’s assured us that Hollywood and DC pedos are just a figment of the imagination and a conspiracy theory, something, something, pizzagate.

    4. Isn’t amazing how that kind of work, and that kind and degree of attention, either attracts those with such predilections or brings out such personality traits? It’s not just a media-fed illusion, is it? Obviously there are counter-examples, but I’ve long wondered whether anything could be done to diminish that trend without diminishing our entertainment by such persons.

    5. They are the epitome of leftism. Hence their innate inferiority. If we had just let Joe McCarthy wipe out the communist insurgence 70 years ago we wouldn’t be on the brink of a Marxist takeover now.

      1. Funny. For years I thought McCarthy was just on a witch hunt. Then I watched a documentary made in the early 70’s about what was going on outside the hearings. If McCarthy had nothing, there sure was a lot of people trying to discredit him. Using the same tactics leftist use today.

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  3. “The move is part of what the Academy describes as a bid to bring more diversity to the casts, crews, and storylines that receive its highest honor.”

    1. Nobody cares about Hollywood anymore
    2. Nobody watches the Oscars anymore
    3. The Oscars have never been anything but insectuous self-praising.

    1. I love that typo. Or was it deliberate?

      1. Ah, another typo connoisseur! I kept parsing, and parsing, until, giving up, I had to read the subsequent comment. So mice to meet you!
        Sorry. I’ll bug out now.

    2. you left out the part where they lecture us about global warming, then jet off to their second or third home.

  4. Humans are intellectual and emotional retards, not much better than chimps with primal drives for sex and status. Watching people in the entertainment industry screech, fuck, and throw their poop demonstrates this every day. Watching the rest of humanity respond to Hollywood confirms this.

    1. I’ll be honest with you, I once took my nieces and nephews to the Cleveland zoo and a monkey whipped a chunk of poo at the glass making my niece jump, and I laughed pretty hard. I laughed even harder when she got the dry heaves after seeing a baboon eat a turd.

      Maybe I’ll take them to Hollywood some day.

      1. Sounds like that would be redundant.

  5. I can only speak for myself, but I see Hollywood as dead. First they dug their own grave by completely screwing good franchises like Ghostbusters, the Terminator, Star Wars, and Star Trek when they messed with tone, “deconstructed” characters, and injected forced pandering wokeness. More broadly, they decided that remakes, sequels, and reboots are always superior to new ideas. Finally, COVID-19 has likely killed the cinema experience for good for most of us. It you’re going to be watching it on TV anyway, who’s going to waste 2-1/2 hours on excrement like The Last Jedi.

    1. I’m not sure who’s going to go to see the next phase of the MCU, where the MCU–much the like paper comics they derive from–becomes woke.

      1. Captain Marvel is a stupid character.

        There, I said it.

        1. Captain marvel should be renamed to captain deux ex machina

          1. They admitted to fucking up by bringing in Adam warlock so late. So late he was in ending credits and not the movies.

        2. I thought the recent Shazam! movie was good, except that the character should be divorced from the DC Universe. Superman should exist only in comic books in Batson’s world; having him as a real thing only diminished Captain Marvel, but having Superman as a fictional thing in that world makes Captain Marvel more plausible as part of our world.

          Then again, he’s also great repurposed as the Caped Madman (SHBOOM!) in J-Men Forever. Ahahahahaha!

        3. The O.G. Captain Marvel on CBS Saturday Morning cartoons was Billy Batson, riding around in an RV with an older mustashio-ed Mentor (no other name, just Mentor.)

          And when in need of answers to hard questions,Billy would consort with the spirits of a Jewish King Solomon along with Greco-Roman beefcake Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. Then, in timexof trouble, Billy would yell their acronym: “SHAZAM!” and turn into Captain Marvel.

          Yep! Definitely won’t see this playing on Pat Robertson’s CBN or the Islamic world’s Al-Jazeera

          1. Cap made it to the screen as a Republic serial 6 months before the first Fleischer Superman cartoon did. In the Shazam! comic, when it was linked to the TV show, Uncle Dudley was “the mentor.” The comics version even grew a mustache to look more like Les Tremayne.

          2. still not as good as the Isis show.

        4. You mean Ms. Marvel. And Mar-Vell was supposed to be a dude.

      2. The next phase of MCU is woke before storytelling. Look at the next few in queue.

    2. Started picking up the new seasons of shows like Prodigal Son… the way they inject racism into it so distracting. May not even bother to go back to watching it.

      1. I like The Expanse a lot. The funny thing is, it’s super-diverse but that’s not shoved in the audience faces and it’s treated as irrelevant to the characters and their interactions/beliefs/politics. It’s just “there” as a natural byproduct of being set 200 years in the future with humanity having moved out into the solar system.

        It’s a breath of fresh air, IMO

        1. Yep, great show. Lots of racial diversity but race does not affect the plot or any of the characters’ relationships or interactions. In 2021 isn’t that sort of colorblind casting actually…racist? I’m half surprised there isn’t some crazy activist somewhere bashing the show along those lines.

          I’m reminded of a new term lately being promoted to explain Trump’s support among more black and latino voters. Apparently ‘multiracial whiteness’ is now a thing. That’s something I could see The Expanse being accused of in the absurdist intersectional funhouse we live in now.

      2. Yeah that scene at the end was so forced and hamfisted.

    3. They write the movies for two groups, their clique (the elites in the echo chamber that is the industry) and the international market. As most of them don’t follow the dialog they could care less what the story line is, they want bangs and booms they can follow without having to read the subtitles. I witnessed this when I worked in the FSU back in the 90s. The local nationals all wanted to watch action movies as they did not have to understand the subtext, just lots of explosions and gun fire.

      What we have to face is the US is no longer the dominant market for most movies. There will be occasional good films, usually set in either the conflict in the middle east or WWII in Europe. But all the deep movies will be either about homosexuals having a hard time or bad white guys being mean to everyone. Even the war movies will start moving that way I am afraid. Let’s see how many more movies they can make about the Tuskegee airmen; I respect these guys but come on were they the only blacks to server in the war? Maybe they can do a good movie about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team?

      1. The reason so many Chinese films have always been subtitled in their own language is because the dialects are mutually unintelligible but they’re all written the same way. They shoot movies differently because of that. I realize that all the action (and superhero) movies have kung fu in them now so that they’ll appeal to a Chinese audience, but now I’m seeing productions for mainstream American audiences that are dubbed in English–like Alice in Borderland on Netflix.

        I set it to the original Japanese audio and put the subtitles in English, but they shot it in such a way that you often can’t see the face of whomever is talking when they’re talking. They show you the character’s face when he’s listening, and then cut away when that character starts talking to show you the other person’s face reacting. It’s like watching a movie that’s being narrated by a disembodied voice–not that the dialogue is much more than filler between kung fu scenes.

        Classical economists long argued that it was better to have more of a good thing than to have a tiny amount of the best–as what were previously luxuries become more available to more and more people. We shouldn’t fail to note, however, that the most widely distributed beer in the world is probably also the most bland. The most amazing classical music ever written was made for a very small, elite audience by a highly skilled few. When punk rock was something you’d never hear about on the radio (or anywhere else unless it was by word of mouth), it sounded like GBH and Minor Threat. When it went mainstream, it sounded like fucking Blink-182–bland beer if ever there was some.

        The genius of YouTube is that you can get millions of views making content for a very narrow audience–the narrower the better, even. Don’t make it about “overlanding” generally. Make your channel about modifying a third generation Toyota Tacoma for overlanding. There may only be a few million people out there who are interested in that, but every one of them wants to watch your video. Don’t make it about Mexican food. That’s too broad. Make the channel about the food of the Yucatan.

        Anything intended for a general audience almost invariably sucks. There are exceptions, but the rule of thumb has it that the bigger the intended audience, the more it sucks. The average person is of average intelligence and has common tastes, and as we go from the average person in the United States to the average person internationally, it just gets more and more vanilla. Things that are hated by most people are likely to be more interesting than things that are well liked by everybody.

        And the exceptions prove the rule.

        1. I also think stink bugs smell good.

      2. They already did: Go for Broke! (1951)

  6. “Starting in 2024, best picture nominees will be required to comply with what amount to quotas for race, sexuality, and gender. The move is part of what the Academy describes as a bid to bring more diversity to the casts, crews, and storylines that receive its highest honor.”

    Because being a race, sex, or gender isn’t an achievement, doesn’t necessarily mean ability and performance are no longer the primary consideration. Ability and performance never were the primary consideration! The Oscars have failed miserably over the years to recognize some of the greatest actors, directors, and films in history. When we see a lifetime achievement award granted, it’s often an admission of failure, and when we see an old director finally win, it’s usually an award for an inferior work given because his greater work was ignored in the past.

    Oh, and the Oscars’ big problems aren’t about relating to audience. Transitioning to the new format of streaming changes expectations. Coppola’s films used to be too damn long. Now they aren’t long enough. If there aren’t at least eight episodes, why am I investing two hours? The Godfather was great, but it might have been better if it were stretched out to be the first season of a streaming series. The Godfather Part II could have been the second season.

    The Oscars is becoming like the short form, festival circuit by way of comparison. Series are the future. The Emmys are the future. Who knew?

    1. “The Emmys are the future. Who knew?”
      Cuomo knew.

      Have to agree with you assessment and add, the lack of creativity encouraged in the upcoming generations is part of this too. Watching some of the movies these days I cringe as the nuance has to be explained on screen. It is disheartening.
      The trend to darken a remake to make it seem deeper, example – Riverdale on Netflix, to appeal to the younger Gen. I laughed out load as ‘Clarice’ is promoted on whatever network is streaming it as an Original Series. So same story and characters as Silence of the Lambs but with a darker twist and from the perspective of Clarice. Deep.
      Anyway, the Rona likely did a lot of it in. Thin work became thinner.

      1. The fact that they had to dumb down the pet semetary remake is depressing

      2. A darker version of Silence of the Lambs?

    2. I’m watching Black Spot on Netflix right now. It’s pretty entertaining if you can get over the dubbing (French). The content is different, but the format is similar to X-files: one underlying story through all the episodes, but each episode has a conclusion. We almost always watch at least 2 episodes in a sitting, so it’s similar to watching a movie. Add the fact that I’ve got a 64” tv and nakamichi sooundbar with surround, why would I spend the money to go watch a movie at the theater?

      1. I dug Black Spot!

        It was made for a French audience–not American!

        The things that are generally interesting are things that aren’t made for a general audience–and certainly not for America, China, India, and the rest of the world.

        Wonder Woman is now a Chinese acrobat.

        I’m even digging high art stuff–like the stuff on Marquee TV. Not many live performances rights now because of the ‘rona, but even the old live performances they have . . . they’re local productions made for a local audience. They aren’t trying to appeal to the average tastes of the whole wide world, mostly just people who might actually buy a ticket and show up.

    3. When the Oscars really get woke, they will abolish separate awards categories for men and women, and just make them for best actor.

  7. “nominees will be required to comply with what amount to quotas for race,”
    Hollywood giving a big middle finger to MLK,Jr. This sure says a lot about their “character.”

    1. In their defense, it is now the character of the characters that is most important.

  8. So what the social leftists did not like, was not being told what stories to write, but objecting to what set of morals those stores should promote. The moral standard that they want is also racist, sexist, oikophobic. It is a values system that is the funhouse mirror version of the one it resisted.

    1. Oikophobia (Greek: oîkos, ‘house, household’ + phóbos, ‘fear’; also known as domatophobia and ecophobia) is an aversion to a home environment, or an abnormal fear (phobia) of one’s home.

      I learned something new today!

      1. It is also used as a mirror image of xenophobia.

      2. and why “home economics” is redundant.

  9. SleepyJoe will tell us what movies are good to watch.

  10. Great article, thanks. We watch a lot of old movies. The pre-code stuff is always interesting because there are topics being presented in ways that they won’t be again in popular movies for another 30+ years. Baby Face is a great one.

  11. Is this a Reason lead up to the next Gen McCarthyism?

    1. What? Like Reason decides Hollywood or Washington, D.C.‘a agenda.

      1. Reason commenters imagine that reporting a story is tantamount to supporting and promoting the story. Reason reports on an earthquake that kills 500 people and the contrarian crowds thinks Reason is lobbying congress for more earthquakes.

        The mystery of the monkey brain.

        1. Hey sarcasmic!
          Remember when you didn’t understand the proper definition of “strawmanning”? Have a read of WK and Brandyfuck’s posts for a pro-level example.

          You’re welcome.

        2. “Reason commenters imagine that reporting a story is tantamount to supporting and promoting the story.”

          Yeah, I don’t know where we get the idea that Reason reports with unmitigated bias. As an example, Jacob Sullen has yet another riveting piece where he explores, objectively, the idea of election fraud. Again.

      2. I just imagine you on Christmas morning rationalizing reasons why Reason didn’t send you a gift.

        1. I’m sure her mom puts a gift from Reason under the tree for her.

        2. That’s easier to rationalize than the idea that it’s okay to shoot unarmed protesters–if they’re trespassing.

          . . . and White Knight managed to rationalize that.

      3. You’re not very good with nuance, are you WK?

        And the idea is not that Reason defines what Hollywood and DC plan, but that Reason seems to like to gently lead its readers to complacently accept each new step of authority.

    2. Is this a Reason lead up to the next Gen McCarthyism?

      The Reason Commenters Code is currently in development.

  12. Less than a week to go until Reason starts getting accused of “Biden Derangement Syndrome.”

  13. The traditional movie is all but dead now. We’ll see movies streaming, but the Academy style theater release is dead, and not just because of Covid-19. I still prefer to see movies on the big screen, but my medium screen 56″ television is still plenty big. The only thing I’m missing is people talking through the film or the sticky cola coated floors.

    So who really cares what the Academy thinks?

    1. TBH European and Asian stuff are now far more watchable than Anglo stuff.

  14. Communist governments heavily fund propaganda in US entertainment, social media, news and academia. It’s naive and dangerous to just wave that away with “good ideas will always win out.”

  15. They can’t even do art without fucking it up.

  16. Wow, have any of you Peanuts seen the New Yorker video of the insurrection taken on the floor of the capitol?

    It is fucking amazing.

    HAIL TRUMP!

    1. Only nobodies who think they’re somebody read the New Yorker.

    2. You can kiss the USA goodbye if MAGA ever captures a majority in Congress with the Presidency.

      1. Peak MAGA was in 2017.

        Losing the House, Presidency, and Senate put the last nail in MAGA’s coffin.

    3. I watched the video after the big buildup and thought “That was fucking it?”

      These Kavanagh protesters here are a hundred times worse than that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRnmnxVtDqg

      Tell me Buttplug, was that an insurrection to?

      You know what you, and White Knight/DOL/Stroozle, and sarcasmic are doing? Fomenting.
      You’re trying to instigate violence and reprisals against anyone who attended a legitimate protest that wasn’t even one hundredth as violent as the other riots your team instigated in DC last year.
      You’re such vile little fucks.

      1. So you voted for Trump then?

    4. Was there a clever, intellectual cartoon about it mocking the deplorables? No, then why would we care.

    1. Very.

    2. Interesting, but ffs could we get some editing?

  17. Yeah beheadings, impalement and smoking. Seems reasonable to me. But thanks for the article. The more things change the more they stay the same.

  18. I am always surprised when libertarians are surprised that humans are human. They shut out and try to censor people who don’t agree with them.

    Good thing Biden’s coming into office to quell all of that and give us unity.

    Oh wait…

    1. https://twitter.com/amuse/status/1350800988496687106?s=19

      Biden’s transition team has revealed there is a very real fear that members of the national guard who support President Trump might kill Biden during the inauguration so they’ve asked commanders to confiscate all ammo and magazines from the soldiers.

      2/ Biden’s transition team asked if it would be possible to determine which soldiers voted in GOP primaries or who have contributed to GOP candidates so commanders could station them away from the president-elect. The request was refused fueling their fear of attack.

      4/ Biden’s fears started with his Secret Service detail, he had every agent on the White House detailed demoted as he worried about their loyalty to Trump. Democrats think that anyone who supports Trump is a very real threat.

      5/ Even @SpeakerPelosi is fomenting fear by falsely claiming Republican members of Congress are planning to bring guns to the inauguration to intimidate and threaten the president-elect.

      6/ The Army has confirmed they’ve acquiesced to Biden’s demand for security screening for National Guard members who support President Trump.

      1. And they claimed Trump was ridiculous with his expectations of loyalty for his staff…
        I mean, Trump was but this here is some creepy big brother shit being set up

  19. when he received a lifetime achievement Oscar in 1999, roughly half of the audience sat on their hands and did not applaud.

    Revealingly these brave people have said exactly nothing to oppose our current blacklists. They weren’t against blacklists, they were only against blacklisting communists.

    1. Yup cross reference those who sat on their hands to those actors who praised Chavez.

  20. I am enjoying the downfall of Hollywood. They let Harvey and other predators operate without impunity because it was financially viable for them to do so. As pompous as Ricky Gervais is it was fantastic seeing a clip of him eviscerate Hollywood to their face.

    The fun will continue when they begin to eat each other as they fail to navigate the purity tests they try to navigate at every turn.

    1. One can hope.

  21. Authoritarianism/cultural marxism is called by other names now but its the same old same old. Communism was always the threat in Hollywood and still is..just rebranded in a way that you “can’t” disagree with.

    1. Get $192 hourly from Google!…Yes this is Authentic since I just got my first payout of $24413 and this was just of a single week…AQWsde I have also bought my Range Rover Velar right after this payout…It is really cool job I have ever had and you won’t forgive yourself if you do not check it…
      Home Profit System

  22. “In 2015 and 2016, an all-white slate of acting nominees prompted viral outrage”. It was also faux outrage, when I went back a checked the actor nominations from 2000 I discovered that in fact black had been pretty well represented, including 5 for Denzel alone and he wasn’t alone, a few other actors also had multiple nominations.

    In fact 40 blacks have been nominated since 2000. There are typically 5 nominees in each of 4 categories or 20 per year, a total of 400 nominations – black actors therefore made up 10% of those nominated, slightly less than their proportion in the population of the US.

    I am more concerned that Hollywood will be forced censor movies by the Chinese as a price for allowing their films to be screened in the giant Chinese market.

    1. You should check out the stats on unarmed men killed by police as well…oh I will get kicked off the platform for suggesting checking the FBI crime stats… 🙂

  23. Cartoons for kids. The older looney tunes featured violence, cross dressing (bugs bunny), gambling, smoking, guns of all kinds, womanizing (Pepe la Pew). There were stereotypical characters (frog horn leghorn, speedy Gonzales).

    Used to play a game with my daughter counting how many times the coyote got smashed or blown up each episode.

    The stuff they put out now is pure pablum.

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