The Woke Taliban have been chipping away at artistic freedom for three decades, and now the actual death of artistic freedom will be enshrined by the Motion Picture Academy’s new “diversity requirements.”
The beginning of the end of an unprecedented era of artistic freedom, an era that began with Lenny Bruce and the death of the Motion Picture Production Code, arrived in the early 90s when comedians Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay were shouted down over jokes. Although Clay and Kinison observed no sacred cows, their willingness to skewer the left scared Kinison into silence and derailed Clay’s career.
Over the past three decades, the fascism of political correctness has only grown more oppressive and suffocating, but now, with the left-wing moral panic sparked by the tragic death of George Floyd while in police custody, the left is emboldened; and when the left is emboldened, cities burn, statues topple, careers and people are disappeared, good men are murdered, civil liberties are trampled, and the dual horrors of blacklisting and censorship reign supreme.
The left’s blacklisting rampage is already in full force, and only getting started. Classic movies and television shows that are not disappearing entirely are either under direct threat or face the desecration of a Big Brother Corporation instructing us on how to think and feel about art.
In a sane world, the one guardian against this vandalism and terror would be the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the keepers of the flame of artistic freedom. But the left are no longer sane and rather than rage against the Woke Taliban destroying and suffocating art and artists, the AMPAS has not only remained silent, it has joined the mob…
If the following doesn’t put a chill up the spine of every movie lover and artist in America, you can stop can stop calling yourself a movie lover, artist, and American:
[T]he academy will create a task force to develop new inclusion standards for Oscar eligibility by the end of July. The academy has not yet determined what those standards will be[.]
It’s unclear what the diversity requirements will entail but the academy could take a page from its brethren in Britain: In 2019, the British Film Institute became the first major awards body to introduce diversity and inclusion criteria into its eligibility requirements. All entries in two British film categories, outstanding British film and outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer, are now required to increase representation to meet at least two of four diversity standards, like “onscreen representation, themes and narratives,” and “industry access and opportunities.” among others.
“The need to address this issue is urgent,” the academy’s chief executive, Dawn Hudson, said in a statement. “To that end, we will amend — and continue to examine — our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”
Roughly between 1934 and 1966, movies were self-censored by the film industry’s own guidelines, known as the Production Code or Hays Code. This is why Hollywood’s Golden Era contains no sex or swearing, no homosexuality; why the bad guy never gets away, why you never see couples in bed, drug abuse, adultery, etc.
While I am a First Amendment extremist who opposes all forms of censorship, only a fool would argue the Production Code damaged the art of filmmaking. For all its restrictions, the Code did not disallow exploring the forbidden. Far from it… Casablanca (1942) is all about adultery. The Searchers (1956) is all about miscegenation. The Maltese Falcon (1941) is driven in large part by the homosexual dynamic of the characters played by Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and Elisha Cook Jr. The Sweet Smell of Success (1957) is driven by incest, and so on… I could literally list hundreds of movies.
In other words, everything forbidden by the Production Code was not forbidden. It did, though, force filmmakers to explore these themes in a subtle way, and this is why, in my opinion, the Golden Era is so golden. What I mean is that if you turn the subtext of those classics into text, they are no longer classic. The idea behind the Code was to preserve the innocence of children while still offering adult entertainment, and the result was a second-to-none era of American artistry and storytelling.
Times change, though, and by the mid to late sixties, audiences grew tired of this censorship, which they proved by making blockbusters out of movies that either pushed the Code to extremes (1960’s Psycho), or went ahead without the Code’s seal of approval (1964’s The Pawnbroker).
After the Code finally fell and was replaced by the MPAA rating system, the late-60s and 70s delivered an explosion in artistic freedom, and with it, another golden era of filmmaking. The late-70s and 80s would go on to expertly combine this freedom with mainstream entertainment: ribald sex comedies, horror, erotic romances and thrillers… And all was right with the world…
At least it was until the fascist crybabies started crybabying with their demands for the kind of censorship you simply cannot work around: The old Production Code forbade content — which, as I pointed out above, could be explored in other ways. The new fascists successfully declared whole swaths of themes, humor, portrayals, and sacred cows off limits. You could still mock conservatives, Christians, white men, and Rural America to death. But the price of offending gays, Muslims, women, blacks, or any other left-wing sacred cow was steep: withering reviews, media attacks, condemnation from your peers, and with it the fear you might never work again.
And so, starting in the 90s, and without an official announcement, Hollywood began a new period of self-censorship, what I described about a decade ago as the Politically Correct Production Code.
Movies suffered, of course, which is why over the last 20 years every genre — comedy, adult drama and romance, thrillers, action, mystery, the romantic comedy — have slowly died off, leaving us only with sexless superheroes, cheap horror, and a perennial season of sanctimonious Oscar bait.
And now the very institution that should be raging the most loudly against this suffocating artistic fascism intends to enshrine it with a Woke Production Code that could very include the “approved and correct” themes and narrative…
A code that will blacklist from Oscar consideration any movie that does not meet whatever Orwellian diversity requirements are coming…
“There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” ― Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.