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Do Classic Films Have More Freedom Then Modern Films


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In todays era it seems like people are are overly sensative about certain subject matter. Certain words and jokes you cannot use anymore. And I think while im not supportive of any racial slurs or saying we should as people use words or mean jokes still. It however just seems that there is a bit of over sensative moods in the world and in ways I think it effects period films when try to make them today. I think classic films before the 2000 times began had more freedom in film making. I some things in movie need to be uncomfortable so film scenes have more weight to the offenses. I also think classic comedys are way better and I just cannot find new style of comedy funny these days.

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I think it has always been that way. Just over different subject matter. Throughout the 20th century, censorship was much stronger than it is today and the reasons why something was censored was often quite questionable by today's perspectives. With YouTube and everything related, you can basically express anything you want. However it may still be removed by the authorities in control if there is enough protest and outrage. It all boils down to business is business and what harms business must be eliminated.

Bottom line, everything made today will have something wrong with it in the future. Take the coronavirus epidemic and the lack of "social distancing" in too many movies and TV shows to count, including a ton of material completed barely months ago. Society norms are changing constantly.

I think the basic problem is that the average American has too short of an attention span and very little knowledge or interest of history. Not to get political here, but even some major leaders and figureheads prefer a "dumbed down" society and never bother fact-checking themselves before they make a speech. If we were a more academic nation that bothers to read and research instead of just responding to short opinions and comments on a computer screen that lack any real analysis or reacting to a media story without studying it more carefully, this would not be a problem.

For example, in the context of older movies receiving a new audience, a big company like Disney will never ever reissue Song of the South and only would make available censored versions of Fantasia, Make Mine Music and other old material that has something "taboo" in it in regards to racial stereotypes, cigarette smoking, gun play and other concerns that parents have in regards to what their children watch. Apparently too many parents expect that company (and TV and videos in general) to be their child's babysitter and have no time (and often no desire) to sit and watch everything their children watch, explaining things to them when they ask questions. Personally, what I think a company like that should do is this: make all of their material available uncensored but provide a rating system similar to the MPAA ratings that indicate material that is "historically offensive" and specify what it is that is a concern. In this way, educated adults and educated children who bother to read can make their own choices as to what they want to see. Warner video used to do that with their Looney Tunes compilations with statements at the start of the videos (sometimes by a celebrity like Whoopi Goldberg,  sometimes with just words on the screen) indicating that the ethnic stereotypes and sexism in the old material was "wrong then and wrong today" and do not represent the company's opinions of today, but to ignore them is to pretend that they never existed to begin with. Just paraphrasing here.

Fortunately we have YouTube making so much of it available despite all of the copyright ownership battles.

Context is everything, especially when it comes to specific words heard in dialogue. For example, if the N-word is used in a historical picture depicting racial prejudice in all of its ugly forms, it is acceptable. Also less disturbing if spoken by people of a darker skin tone, the general target of such words. If used in a joke by an all-Caucasian cast who have never be called that word, it is not. Ditto the use of the F-word, the three and six letter versions and not the four letter version. Older movies use it frequently because so many called that were "closeted" and less open, although the most famous example, Midnight Cowboy, was directed by an openly gay man and he was addressing some criticisms of society at the time. Also any World War II film is difficult for modern day Japanese viewers to watch since the vast majority of them are all too young to be responsible for Pearl Harbor. If educated on history and the notion "yes, this was the way it was and society was not all that socially positive back then", there is no problem.

Today you have to EXPLAIN everything you do and the "why".

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It just seems like it be exhausting to be a movie writer in this now PG era where you have to be none offensive to women or races and there are so many words that can be offensive . I think as humans we evolve but i think its unfair to blame one race for the wrongs of another 3 decades later when people change. A thing i notice more is not just white people can be racist but its the only thing that people seem to want to underline when making films. Also today people cannot use the words **** but it was used allot in the 1980s. People assume the word means gay but seems like in the Dire Straits song its refering to a rich male who doesnt have to work hard.  I think the modern era is hardest for the 1980 and 1990 comedians in making tv shows and films today. Simply because cant use words without an apology tour.

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No, it meant in the Dire Straits song what it's always meant.

I personally am not going to miss the deletion of hate words used in a hateful or casual, extraneous context. There are certainly more important to things to be upset about. Restrictions always force writers to be more creative or subtle, which is why, I think, there are so many great movies from the Hays Code era that convey more meaning than they can explicitly show. Writers will be able to work around this, as well.

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Well if we include Classic Films of the early 30s  the mid 60s to mid 70s. Yes, way more freedom in every way. At the demise Motion Picture Production Code, the rise of Exploitation Cinema and the redefinition of obscenity laws, Artists were free to express themselves. As Picasso was quoted “Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.”

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I'm not sure what YODA's **** word was, but I'm guessing  it had something to do with a word that refers to a bundle of sticks and twigs( and often too, used in Biblical scripture)  or meatballs made from off-cuts of meat( usually pork).  That some words took on qualities of meanings that weren't originally implied, then censoring of the word shouldn't be out of hand, but be measured by it's intended use thereof.  Like that nasty "N" word that's supposed to be banned overall.

It's original definition had nothing to do with defining any particular race except all included in the HUMAN race, as it's original definition made reference to anyone who could be considered "Shiftless and lazy".  But this has come under debate.  Now it's believed to be a corruption of the Latin N I G E R, which means simply, "black".  The Spanish N E G R O is just the word for "black", with no derogatory intent towards anyone. Then there's the word, "Niggardly"  which has noting to do with color OR race.  ie:

nig·gard·ly

  (nĭg′ərd-lē)

adj.
1. Grudging and petty in giving or spending.
2. Meanly small; scanty or meager: 
 
Yet back in the '90's, a coach at some university( I forget which one) got fired for calling a player that.
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1 hour ago, Yoda1978 said:

It just seems like it be exhausting to be a movie writer in this now PG era where you have to be none offensive to women or races and there are so many words that can be offensive . I think as humans we evolve but i think its unfair to blame one race for the wrongs of another 3 decades later when people change. A thing i notice more is not just white people can be racist but its the only thing that people seem to want to underline when making films. Also today people cannot use the words **** but it was used allot in the 1980s. People assume the word means gay but seems like in the Dire Straits song its refering to a rich male who doesnt have to work hard.  I think the modern era is hardest for the 1980 and 1990 comedians in making tv shows and films today. Simply because cant use words without an apology tour.

Yea,  and Wayne didn't do that Playboy interview.   Man,  you're funny.

 

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Then there's this gem from WB's  A Tale of Two Kitties (1942) which also is the official first appearance of Tweety .  I'm surprised this made it past the Hays office, as it directly pokes them in the eye.

 

 

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The only decades where there was freedom was the 1970's. Before that, Hollywood was far too conservative. By the 1980's, conservatives tried to bring back some fantasy rose colored 1950's culture. Each era has its own issues. But, at least now you are able to make any film you wish. And if you can get a distributor, someone will like it, somewhere. 

But, let's not pretend the past was so glorious.

2 hours ago, Yoda1978 said:

It just seems like it be exhausting to be a movie writer in this now PG era where you have to be none offensive to women or races and there are so many words that can be offensive .

Not sure what you mean here. There's plenty of films, shows, comedy stand ups where all sorts of offensive material is used. You just don't see it on network TV. Which might be one reason that medium is failing and falling behind. People are a lot more acceptable that you might realize. Its just that those who are sensitive tend to make more noise about it.

2 hours ago, Yoda1978 said:

I think as humans we evolve but i think its unfair to blame one race for the wrongs of another 3 decades later when people change.

No one is  blaming anyone. The issue is that in the past, most of the wealth resided in one gender of one race. Today, all people have spending power. You can make any film you like. But, if you want the mass population to spend money to come watch it, Its a good idea not to insult them.  The decision to make inoffensive films is not cultural, its financial. Like most decision made in Hollywood.

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46 minutes ago, GGGGerald said:

No one is  blaming anyone. The issue is that in the past, most of the wealth resided in one gender of one race. Today, all people have spending power. You can make any film you like. But, if you want the mass population to spend money to come watch it, Its a good idea not to insult them.  The decision to make inoffensive films is not cultural, its financial. Like most decision made in Hollywood.

My gut reaction to the 'no one is blaming anyone' is too say 'everyone is blaming everyone';     Threads like this one are an example,  as well as any thread that complains about the how being PC is impacting culture and freedom of expression.

Now I hope we can get to a place where on one is blaming anyone,  but we clearly are not there.  Not even close.  (and one will get blamed as being 'with THEM' just for thinking that,  ha ha).

 

 

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2 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

No, it meant in the Dire Straits song what it's always meant.

I personally am not going to miss the deletion of hate words used in a hateful or casual, extraneous context. There are certainly more important to things to be upset about. Restrictions always force writers to be more creative or subtle, which is why, I think, there are so many great movies from the Hays Code era that convey more meaning than they can explicitly show. Writers will be able to work around this, as well.

I my self never used words that are in most movies in the 80s and 90s . I just think todays movie goers are way to sensative and just cant go to watch a movie. Everyone these days is a movie critic and can do a video on movies on youtube.

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13 minutes ago, Yoda1978 said:

I my self never used words that are in most movies in the 80s and 90s . I just think todays movie goers are way to sensative and just cant go to watch a movie. Everyone these days is a movie critic and can do a video on movies on youtube.

As Gerald pointed out it is what movie goers are sensitive to that has changed,   and NOT that they are now more sensitive.    

E.g.  women and their behavior as portrayed in film during the Production Code.    How blacks were portrayed and how they interacted with whites.    Audiences were highly sensitive in these areas and this impacted the content of the film.      I assume you haven't studied the Production Code;   this is PCness on steroids but sadly it isn't viewed that way by those that look at the existing 'standards' of what is PC today.     The point is simple;  both sides want a nanny to control things.    The only difference is what is controlled.   

  

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4 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Yea,  and Wayne didn't do that Playboy interview.   Man,  you're funny.

 

Im not saying the interview never happened but rarely do actors remember what there interviewing what magazine or new place. they often say the same words over and over. But he could have been asked a different question.

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1 hour ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

As Gerald pointed out it is what movie goers are sensitive to that has changed,   and NOT that they are now more sensitive.    

E.g.  women and their behavior as portrayed in film during the Production Code.    How blacks were portrayed and how they interacted with whites.    Audiences were highly sensitive in these areas and this impacted the content of the film.      I assume you haven't studied the Production Code;   this is PCness on steroids but sadly it isn't viewed that way by those that look at the existing 'standards' of what is PC today.     The point is simple;  both sides want a nanny to control things.    The only difference is what is controlled.   

  

I never like some things in films for certain. but I do think most cases no offenses are meant when writers write something or actors say something in interviews. I mean Im from WV where there is not allot of asians or black people and In my head I constantly worry about saying stuff not on purpose because I just dont know a hundred ways to offend people. But I do suppose music has changed a little like movies. Its like the word **** when I went to school we never used that word we just called them Learn Disabled or Behavior Disabled.  Come to think of it while seems like words had more freedom in the classic era. Really maybe it is good some things are cut from films or not used anymore.

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2 hours ago, Yoda1978 said:

I never like some things in films for certain. but I do think most cases no offenses are meant when writers write something or actors say something in interviews. I mean Im from WV where there is not allot of asians or black people and In my head I constantly worry about saying stuff not on purpose because I just dont know a hundred ways to offend people. But I do suppose music has changed a little like movies. Its like the word **** when I went to school we never used that word we just called them Learn Disabled or Behavior Disabled.  Come to think of it while seems like words had more freedom in the classic era. Really maybe it is good some things are cut from films or not used anymore.

There you go again,  believing you know what other people were thinking (or what they really 'meant'),  especially other people decades ago.    To me this is a very misguided practice.    

Anyhow it appears my point went over your head since you are  only to be able to view this topic from your own narrow bubble; that of a white male from WV.   E.g.  the people being so called overly sensitive during the Production-Code  where mostly white Christian males;    Women working?  Women earning more than a male.   Women wanting sex and actually enjoying it?    Blacks thinking they are equal.    OMG,   that is some offensive conduct!!   (NOT).     The code was  designed to limit this type of so called offensive material from American movies.   

Today there is no Production code but only cultural norms.     Note that I'm against both;  I.e.  Film makers  should be free to make the films they want to the markets that want their type of 'spin' on cultural issues.  

PS:  I also recommend you review the HUAC and how the US Congress was able to suppress the free flow on content in American movies.     I point this out because after reviewing this and the Production Code I don't see how anyone could come to the logical  conclusion that there are MORE restrictions today than there were back in those eras.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Jlewis said:

For example, in the context of older movies receiving a new audience, a big company like Disney will never ever reissue Song of the South and only would make available censored versions of Fantasia, Make Mine Music and other old material that has something "taboo" in it in regards to racial stereotypes, cigarette smoking, gun play and other concerns that parents have in regards to what their children watch. Apparently too many parents expect that company (and TV and videos in general) to be their child's babysitter and have no time (and often no desire) to sit and watch everything their children watch, explaining things to them when they ask questions. Personally, what I think a company like that should do is this: make all of their material available uncensored but provide a rating system similar to the MPAA ratings that indicate material that is "historically offensive" and specify what it is that is a concern. In this way, educated adults and educated children who bother to read can make their own choices as to what they want to see. Warner video used to do that with their Looney Tunes compilations with statements at the start of the videos (sometimes by a celebrity like Whoopi Goldberg,  sometimes with just words on the screen) indicating that the ethnic stereotypes and sexism in the old material was "wrong then and wrong today" and do not represent the company's opinions of today, but to ignore them is to pretend that they never existed to begin with. Just paraphrasing here.

While Disney has not officially re-released Song of the South, they do have a popular theme park ride based off of it (Splash Mountain, but only the animals and "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" are used, no mention of Uncle Remus), so it's not that they're trying to totally repress it.  But for the record, on their streaming service, Disney+, they do put up a disclaimer (similar to the Warner Brothers one you reference) in front of films with questionable content, e.g. "Dumbo." 

I do agree that companies should just make their content available and let audiences decide what to watch or not  watch.  Unfortunately, social media has perpetuated "cancel culture" where you have a bunch of armchair advocates trying to decide what content is "appropriate" for everyone--which causes companies to become apprehensive about releasing non-PC content,  as they don't want to lose revenue. 

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I don't think we can compare "freedom" during the classic era with modern film.

From a technical standpoint, modern film definitely has more freedom.  As long as you have someone on staff who is good with CGI and special effects, you can pretty much create any special effect, any scene that you want.  The only limitation is imagination.  Since this technology didn't exist during the classic age, all special effects had to be created by hand--using models, trick photography, etc.  In many ways, I think of this as more *real* filmmaking.

From a business standpoint, in many ways I think that it could be argued that classic and modern films are comparable. At the end of the day, profit is the main goal.  A classic film studio wanted to turn a profit as much as their modern counterpoints.  If an actor's pet project doesn't turn a profit, it'll probably be much harder to get the funding for any successive projects, unless the actor has deep pockets.  Today's blockbuster films, chock full of CGI-effects are massively expensive to produce.  Every studio, classic and modern, wants a high ROI for every actor and film they put their money into.

From an artistic standpoint, I would definitely say that modern films have more freedom.  Actors are free to choose what they want to work on and with whom they want to work.  There wasn't a studio system to dictate what projects they were to work on.  There aren't any contracts to keep actors from pursuing the projects they desire.  However, without the studio system, I would imagine that there is A LOT more competition for parts.  Unless you're an established star, a la Meryl Streep, who can pretty much do any project she wants, there may be countless parts lost.

From a personal standpoint, I would also argue that classic era stars had more freedom than their modern counterparts.  Classic film stars were expected to act and dress appropriately in public, and uphold their on-screen image.  While some stars like Judy Garland and Sandra Dee might have found these rules restrictive, there were also "fixers" in place who could sweep their shenanigans under the rug.  Nobody but the star, the studio and the fixer would know.  Nowadays, a star REALLY needs to watch their back, as anything they might write on social media, anything they might say or do in public, can go viral within minutes.  Depending on what was said or done, a star's career can be over instantly.  These days, the proliferation of social media can make or break someone's career. 

From a content standpoint, I would state that classic and modern film are comparable.  Classic films I think in many ways had more freedom with the storylines they brought on screen.  Popular novels, short stories, etc. were purchased by studios as projects for their stars.  Teams of writers were on staff to conceptualize and produce multiple films on a weekly basis. These stories were presented, green lit, and put into production very quickly.  While profit was the end goal for any project, studios also wanted to groom stars and keep people employed.  I think there was more room for original stories and ideas.  The caveat to this of course, was the production code.  In many ways however, one could argue that social media (again) is acting as a new iteration of the Hays Code.  Social media makes it known quickly if "it" likes a certain film.  They are quick to condemn anything or anyone who does anything that could seem as offensive to a group of people. One trending positive or negative hashtag can make or break the film. Classic film directors were also able to be more imaginative to skirt the Hays Code, and it many ways (not all, however) it enhanced the film.  Nowadays, it's pretty much anything goes, except for with the ratings.  If a film receives an R-rating, but the goal was to attract the teenagers, a PG-13 rating is better.  Content may need to be removed from the R to achieve the PG-13.  One could argue that along with social media, this is the modern Hays Code. 

Overall, I think both classic and modern films have their pros and cons when it comes to freedom. 

 

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Also it has to deal with talent and I think classic movie writers were better and todays writers are well kinda lazier . Well Maybe lazy is wrong word. Its like I know my parents worked harder then id did but times changed and not every person raised there own living anymore. So by so called modern life we are little less working harder then parents raised in the 40s. I was in the 70s and kids today well there even less effort putting thanks to modern computer devices.

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3 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

There you go again,  believing you know what other people were thinking (or what they really 'meant'),  especially other people decades ago.    To me this is a very misguided practice.    

Anyhow it appears my point went over your head since you are  only to be able to view this topic from your own narrow bubble; that of a white male from WV.   E.g.  the people being so called overly sensitive during the Production-Code  where mostly white Christian males;    Women working?  Women earning more than a male.   Women wanting sex and actually enjoying it?    Blacks thinking they are equal.    OMG,   that is some offensive conduct!!   (NOT).     The code was  designed to limit this type of so called offensive material from American movies.   

Today there is no Production code but only cultural norms.     Note that I'm against both;  I.e.  Film makers  should be free to make the films they want to the markets that want their type of 'spin' on cultural issues.  

PS:  I also recommend you review the HUAC and how the US Congress was able to suppress the free flow on content in American movies.     I point this out because after reviewing this and the Production Code I don't see how anyone could come to the logical  conclusion that there are MORE restrictions today than there were back in those eras.

 

 

Lots of southern and country people do think the way I do. Its same reason as you think your opinion is supperior to mine. I cannot help how i think its in my brain and its why make discussion topics so I can cain knowledge from other people.

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1 hour ago, Yoda1978 said:

Lots of southern and country people do think the way I do. Its same reason as you think your opinion is supperior to mine. I cannot help how i think its in my brain and its why make discussion topics so I can cain knowledge from other people.

To each their own. 

 

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The real issue is when we say "classic film" we only remember the great films. And totally forget the turkeys. Yet, when we discuss films of today, normally the discussion starts with a bomb or two. Remember, the year (1951), that produced The African Queen and Streetcar Named Desire, also produced Bedtime for Bonzo.

8 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

My gut reaction to the 'no one is blaming anyone' is too say 'everyone is blaming everyone';     Threads like this one are an example,  as well as any thread that complains about the how being PC is impacting culture and freedom of expression.

Now I hope we can get to a place where on one is blaming anyone,  but we clearly are not there.  Not even close.  (and one will get blamed as being 'with THEM' just for thinking that,  ha ha).

I just think about how many articles must have been written about how the "production code is stifling creativity", during its era. There will always be complainers.

 

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1 hour ago, GGGGerald said:

The real issue is when we say "classic film" we only remember the great films. And totally forget the turkeys. Yet, when we discuss films of today, normally the discussion starts with a bomb or two. Remember, the year (1951), that produced The African Queen and Streetcar Named Desire, also produced Bedtime for Bonzo.

I just think about how many articles must have been written about how the "production code is stifling creativity", during its era. There will always be complainers.

I'd agree with this.  Many people deride films made after a certain point in time and lament "they don't make good films anymore," but for every Casablanca, you have 10 Bedtime For Bonzos.  I do find many of the lesser films definitely being worth watching... and then there are others where I think, "I can see why this isn't better known."  Ice Follies of 1939 comes to mind.  "Folly" indeed. 

Re: the Production Code.  I do agree that it stifled creativity and forced director's visions to be changed in the name of choosing an audience-friendly ending or cutting length to fit in more showings.  Look what happened to The Magnificent Ambersons and Judy Garland's A Star is Born.  On the other hand, I think the restrictions of the production code caused the directors to have to be more subtle in getting their point across, e.g. Barbara Stanwyck re-buttoning her blouse after presumably canoodling with Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity. I think these subtleties is one of the reasons why classic hollywood films are held up in high regard by some as being "clean" and "wholesome."  When in reality, there is more than meets the eye in many of these films.  Some people are unable to look beyond the surface of these films to pick up on some of the more understated plot points. There are things that I miss all the time in a film, and it's only on a second, third, fourth, etc. watch that I finally realize another piece of the plot or the meaning of a scene and go "ohhhhhhh."  

However, the Production Code does stifle creativity when it forces the director to slap contrived endings onto films in order to appease the audience's whims, or the production code's need to instill some sense of morality.  How many films would be completely different if they had been allowed to follow the original source material? 

In a nutshell, the Production Code is a double-edged sword.

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Here is something else to throw into the equation. With covid -19 movie theaters may really go the way of the dinosaur. New content creators armed with relatively cheap digital cameras or cellphones will make short films guerrilla style with friends that can uploaded to a "theater platform" that  an be accessed for say five-ten cents that  be cast to a large screen TV. You get 10,000 views that's $500 to $1000 let the platform take 10%  or whatever is reasonable. Set a content filter age filter and you have cheapo alternative entertainment. Group films into various channels. S*C*R*E*W current corporate Hollywood.  Break it all down into neighborhood, local, regional, geographic area films where being creative is rewarding for everybody.

Instead of Cinema, call it Minema © "Good taste is the enemy of creativity." (P. Picasso) you could also say "Box Office Bottom Line  is the enemy of creativity." (CJ) 😉

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12 hours ago, GGGGerald said:

The real issue is when we say "classic film" we only remember the great films. And totally forget the turkeys. Yet, when we discuss films of today, normally the discussion starts with a bomb or two. Remember, the year (1951), that produced The African Queen and Streetcar Named Desire, also produced Bedtime for Bonzo.

I just think about how many articles must have been written about how the "production code is stifling creativity", during its era. There will always be complainers.

 

Hey,  this was a great movie;   The only question my father had when he first saw it was;  who would make the better President?

image.jpeg.93130ce51bbd770611e1a3999244c36e.jpeg

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I agree with the last line there Joe, But I'm holding out that it'll finally someday dawn on people that the situation with Covid-19 is temporary. I don't see movie theaters going belly up out of existence.  But this thread ain't about the future or no future of movie theaters.  Just a tangent about past movie restrictions and the idea that classic film makers had more freedom.

Well, not really, especially after '34.  And nobody worried about offending anyone, but not because not many people were that sensitive, but because NOBODY CARED if they offended anyone.  I mean, WHO, in the 1930' and '40's was going to complain about how women were objectified or black people were represented in a demeaning manner and get anyone who counted to listen to them?  But, from what I can surmise, the language in movies hasn't really been dialed down into PC dweebish babble.  Depends on the movie.  Racial and ethnic slurs and sexist references still exist, depending of course, on the movie and what it's about.  I haven't heard of anyone saying movies in which street gangs are part of the equation don't have them saying "Freakin'", "shoot" or "gosh darn".  or other softened profanity.  And too, (and in this case it's TWO o's Yoda, as in "TOO sensitive")  there's the dependence on who's watching and complaining.  As one said up there, "Some people like to complain".  And personally, I'd rather some movie or movie character insult my ethnicity and heritage rather than my intelligence.  The former I can just let roll off of me, the latter deserves my getting a refund.  :)

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