Last year, PEPS officially declared August #AMonthWithoutTheCode. We decided to make it an annual celebration. Here at PEPS, July is #CleanMovieMonth. This year, we made it #CleanMovieMonth85 in honor of the 85th anniversary of the enforcement of the Production Code. Throughout July, we have watched, reviewed, and celebrated nothing but films from the Breen era (1934-1954). We are taking a deep look into the variety of movies which were made during this unique time for Hollywood. We are analyzing specific aspects of the Code in our new weekly Code Concepts series. We are also learning other writers’ opinions on the Code through the guest articles in #CleanMovieMonth85. Click here to see the full roster of articles written by PEPS and other writers for #CleanMovieMonth85!
Now, August is going to be the complete opposite. After all that purity, we are going to cast ourselves into the times when the Code wasn’t in place. You can watch movies made before and after the Breen era. That means that it’s time to dust off the silent, pre-Code, Shurlock era (1955-1968), and post-Code films which we avoided during July. Remember, the Breen era of the Code lasted from July 15, 1934, to October 14, 1954, so it is American movies from this time which we are going to be avoiding during August. Bear in mind that, while be basically regard all of 1954 to be the Breen Era, there is a very cut-off in 1934. Films released before July were decidedly pre-Code. Thus, half that year can be viewed throughout August.
We chose August to be #AMonthWithoutTheCode for two reasons. Firstly, it is the month which follows July, #CleanMovieMonth. This experiment will have the greatest effect by coming right after the month of strictly decent films. Secondly, Geoffrey Shurlock’s birthday is in this month. Geoffrey M. Shurlock was Joseph Breen’s assistant at the Production Code Administration from 1934-1954. He became the head of the PCA after Mr. Breen’s retirement in 1954. It was during his fourteen-year tenure that the Code decayed. Since his leadership led to the death of the Code and the era of film decency, we think that his birthday month is an appropriate time to study un-Code films (films not made during the Breen era).
This year is one of important anniversaries for both the enforcement of the Code and the lack thereof. This August is #AMonthWithoutTheCode65 because the sixty-fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Shurlock Era takes places in 2019. Joseph I. Breen officially retired from being the head of the Production Code Administration on October 14 of 1954. Thus, October 15, 1954, was the first day of Mr. Shurlock’s Code administration. 2019 is also the fiftieth anniversary of the first whole year that the Code was not “officially” in place. The Code was technically adopted in 1930, and it guided Hollywood, even if in name only for the last few years, until it was replaced by the Classification and Rating Administration in 1968. Thus, we have plenty to celebrate, or mourn, this month in relation to un-Code anniversaries.
If you want to participate in #AMonthWithoutTheCode65, you can start by not watching American movies from the Breen era. When watching un-Code films, don’t watch them mindlessly. You mustn’t overlook or ignore the un-Codish elements. Open your eyes to them so that you can compare these films to the Breen era movies you watched in July. Ask yourself, “Are there things in this movie which offend me or could be offensive or distasteful to others? How could these elements have been changed or removed? Would the movie be better, worse, or the same without them? How would breening have changed this movie? Could this movie be a bad influence on some people? Could some people get bad ideas from this movie? Would I feel comfortable watching this movie with my parents, grandparents, or children?”
During and after August, you can write articles about your thoughts on #AMonthWithoutTheCode65 and the movies you watch as part of it. You can compare un-Code films with Code films. You can write anything you choose about films which were not made during the Breen era, as long as you make some comparison to the Breen era or mention the Code, the PCA, or something else about self-regulation. Be sure to use the banner I made, include a link to this article, and send me the link. I will republish any participating article on the website.
If you can’t start at the beginning of August, that’s fine. If, for instance, you don’t hear about this experiment until part-way through August, you can still join and exclusively watch un-Code films for the rest of the month. The important thing is not how long you watch un-Code films but how you watch them. Even just a week of mindful un-Code film-watching is a good experiment!
You can also support #AMonthWithoutTheCode65 by sharing this article on your website and on social media! Use #AMonthWithoutTheCode65 on social media. Post the banner on your website to spread the word. Write articles about the Code and the difference its absence makes!
What do I do first?
- Leave a comment saying you want to participate.
- If you have a blog, republish this article on it.
- Share this article on social media.
- Use the banner and #AMonthWithoutTheCode65 to spread the word.
- Avoid American Code films (July of 1934-1954) for a whole month.
- Notice the way movies are because the Code was not in place, and consider how the Code would have changed them.
- Write articles or social media posts about the movies you are watching and your thoughts on them.
- Write a conclusive article in the beginning of September about your discoveries from the experiment.
- Be sure to link to this article and send me the links to your articles, which I will republish here!
Join #AMonthWithoutTheCode Today!
Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!