Today is September 11, 2019, the eighteenth anniversary of the catastrophic terrorist attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, which have been remembered simply as 9/11. I was only twenty-three days old when the tragedy occurred, so I have always known about 9/11. While I was too young to know what was happening, I have always been stricken by my mother’s memory of watching an airplane crash into the World Trade Center on the television. At first, she thought it was some television show or movie. She couldn’t believe that something so awful could really be happening. Alas, the United States had to face the horrifying reality that our country had been attacked. The fatal consequences of that day were the death of 2,996 and the injury of 6,000 more, plus the thousands of subsequent victims who have died of health complications from the debris of the attacks. Although it is a day not everyone remembers, it is a day no one will ever forget.
Since then, we have lived in the age of terrorism. We must go through intricate screening processes to enter museums and amusement parks, and going through airport TSA is an ordeal which is very harrowing. We live in fear of both foreign and home-grown terrorists. Why must Americans live in this age of fear? Is there a reason for the terror which stalks our footsteps and lowers our flag with devastating frequency?
America has brought this danger on itself. When we replaced the Code with the Classification and Rating Administration, we gave up entirely on the idea of industry self-regulation to make all films decent for all audiences. Because the Production Code Administration had weakened during Geoffrey Shurlock’s fourteen-year tenure after Joseph Breen’s retirement in 1954, everyone declared that the Code was outdated and ineffective. The fourteen declining years made everyone forget the twenty great years. Instead of giving the Code another chance for success under a new Code administrator, who could perhaps have repeated Joseph Breen’s success, the film industry replaced the self-regulatory system with a much easier one. The rating system didn’t require any work in determining content for the filmmakers. Instead, it placed this responsibility in the hands of audiences. They decided to make whatever they wanted and provide ratings so that audiences would have some idea of the sort of content which would be in their films. If viewers are offended or harmed, filmmakers aren’t to blame. We’ve been warned!
When given carte blanche on film content, filmmakers have naturally chosen to make movies filled with the disturbing, lewd, violent, and graphic content which the Code forbade. As a result, fifty-seven percent of films classified by the MPAA during the first fifty years of its existence were rated R. The influx of this dirty entertainment into society has had predictable corrupting effects. Our society has crumbled from the inside out, and the results have very serious consequences. In some cases, these consequences can even be deadly.
The terrorists who took so many lives eighteen years ago claimed that they did it for political reasons against the United States. However, great hatred for our country still exists in the Middle East. It is as bad as ever before. These terrorists call our land “The Great Satan.” Are we bringing this evil view on ourselves? Perhaps the radical Muslims, who highly prize morality and decency, see us as wicked not because of our nation’s Christian background but because of our departure from traditional values. By allowing entertainment content to sink to such outrageously base levels on the erroneous claim of “free speech,” we have set ourselves up as a land of libertines rather than liberty. As such, we are a huge target for foreign terrorists as well as homegrown ones in the form of disturbed lunatics who turn violent after years of being saturated in our warlike society.
We must never forget 9/11. Let us take this day and other days throughout the year to remember this tragedy and the innocent lives we lost in the terrorist attacks. Let us do more than just mourn this loss, though. Let us learn from this so that “these dead shall not have died in vain.” Let us ask ourselves what we can do to prevent future tragedies of this sort from taking more lives prematurely. Let’s revive the values of our country, and our world, for that matter! Let’s purify our culture by dwelling on beauty, peace, and positivity instead of the ugliness, death, aggression, and horror which dominates our entertainment and media. If our world can learn to appreciate inspiring and uplifting movies such as those made during the Breen Era instead of modern films in which life is cheap and bodies are strewn across the screen, perhaps we can look forward to a future in which these gory sights don’t plague us in reality.
Follow us to bring back the Code and save the arts in America!