Saturdays of the Future: 2. PEPS’s Goal for American Audiences

This is the second article in the Saturdays of the Future series. Last week I wrote an article about PEPS’s plans for the enforcement of the Code through the New Production Code Administration. What happens in Hollywood between the self-regulators and the filmmakers is a distant reality from the average American film watcher. Today’s article will explain the situation which the re-adoption of the Code and the formation of the NPCA will mean to different American audience member.

If PEPS succeeds in bringing back the Code, how will it effect the life of the average American? I often write about the dramatic impact which the Code had on America during the Golden Era of Hollywood. I think I should be more specific, however, about the logistical changes which would occur because of the success of PEPS’s plans. To see the true impact the NPCA would have on the film-viewing patterns of Americans, we will consider the average movie-goer, the classic movie lover, and the person who watches movies at home.

The average movie-goer readily accepts anything Hollywood gives him. However, for the past half-century, he has had the American rating system to warn him about film content. Many adults go to any film which is released without considering the rating, since they think the rating system is only a warning for children. Although it primarily is used as a guide to parents, this system indicates the evil content in films, which is harmful to older people, as well. Under the NPCA, film-going would be no different for the rating ignorer than it is now except for the fact that he would be elevated instead of debased by top films. His mind and conscience would not be corrupted and hardened, as they are by the typical films being made. I do not mean to say that all modern films lack redeeming qualities or morally compensating values. The problem is that even films with good messages or inspiring stories receive PG or PG-13 ratings because of foul language, inappropriate humor, or immoral amorous content. Even G films contain some comedie de toilette or double meaning which would not be approved under the Code. For parents, there will no longer be the need for them to worry about the appropriateness and propriety of film content, since they will have the assurance that every film is proper. Children will be able to see all the films which are released, instead of missing many of the top films because of harsh ratings. Unfortunately, many children see PG-13 or R rated films, which contain content that could defile anyone’s mind; this content pervades every corner of our society because of Hollywood’s huge influence.

Although some theaters, festivals, and events display old movies on the big screen occasionally, true classic movie lovers do most of their movie watching on their televisions and computers. Many people are entirely dedicated to classic films, meaning films before 1980, because they like the different quality of these films. Some people like the artists of the past, some relish the sheer age of the films, and others thrive on the glamour and culture of bygone years. However, whether he admits it or not, every old movie lover has to like the cleanness and propriety of old films. Such people will be able to go to movies at the theater again. In my whole life, I have only gone to see six new films in a theater, and these were Disney Tinkerbell cartoons which were played at El Capitan, an old Disney movie theater in Hollywood. Under the NPCA, people like me and my family will be able to go to the theater and enjoy a real movie experience with new films which are proper and entertaining. In addition, the NPCA will encourage modern filmmakers to use authentic vintage film techniques, settings, and costumes. PEPS also hopes to encourage film companies to release out of print and obscure Code films, starting with Code Seal #1, The World Moves On. 

Some people never go to the movie theater, since they prefer to watch movies in their own homes on their televisions or computers. Instant access programs such as YouTube, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Warner Instant Archive do add to the convenience of films. Almost anything which isn’t offered by these can be bought as a DVD. PEPS has no intention of controlling DVD or online releases of previously made films. People who enjoy unsealed, un-self-regulated movies can enjoy fifty years of them. Pre-Code, Code, and post-Code films will continue to be released for home viewing. Although the NPCA will encourage major movie theaters not to present post-Code films, that will be up to their discretion. However, all new films released or made by Amazon and similar organizations will have to receive NPCA seals. Releasing directly to DVD or an online service will not exclude films from self-regulation, either. Every film which is now submitted to the Motion Picture Association of America will be self-regulated by the New Production Code Administration.

Having considered the average movie-goer, the classic movie lover, and the home movie watcher, we see that bringing back the Code and forming the NPCA will not disturb the film-viewing patterns for any of these, but it will definitely improve it for almost everyone. The average movie-goers will still enjoy watching films in theaters under the Code; they will simply not be polluted by bad entertainment. Classic movie lovers will be able to enjoy brand new films at the theater which are made in a clean, old style they will appreciate. People who like watching uncontrolled entertainment can still enjoy unsealed entertainment from the last fifty years at home. Films are not just a harmless, care-free form of entertainment; they are a powerful substance, a potent drug which can be carefully used for good purposes but is very dangerous if misused.

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