The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart

Part 1 in a Series on The Movies, Politics and Predictive Programming

by Not Sure

11 June 2023

 

            In the early 20th century, most American movies were made in New Jersey and filming often moved to Florida during the winter.  The first studio was built in Hollywood, California in 1911.  There were several motivating factors for the westward move, including the patents monopoly that the Thomas A. Edison company maintained and Kodak’s control over the film supply.  By the early 1920s, there were several thriving studios on the West Coast and the movie business had also acquired a reputation as less than savory and morally questionable.

            By 1921, the legislators of thirty-seven states had introduced more than one hundred censorship bills, and by 1922, Hollywood was faced with complying with hundreds, perhaps thousands of inconsistent and easily changed decency laws.  That year, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) was formed as an industry trade association, to ensure the viability of the young film business.  A photograph from their first meeting in March of 1922 shows fourteen men, seven seated at a long wooden table, and seven standing behind the seated men.  Twelve of the men were movie producers and distributors and some of their names are still recognizable today: Fox, Goldwyn, Loew and Laemmle.  The man seated in the middle, in the largest and most ornate chair, was William Hays.  Hays had been the chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1918-1921 and had managed Warren Harding’s successful 1920 bid for the U.S. presidency.  Harding then appointed Hays to his cabinet as his first Postmaster General, the chief executive officer of the United States Post Office.  Hays resigned from that position in 1922 to become the first chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America.  Standing behind Hays was the other non-movie industry member of the MPAA, Courtland Smith.  Smith was the assistant postmaster general and the president of the American Press Association, which had been founded by his father, Orlando Smith, and was at the time the largest newspaper syndicate in the United States.  An innovator in early sound newsreels, Smith would go on to become a vice-president of Fox Film Corporation and the president of Pathé News.

            The story is told that Will Hays founded the MPAA.  He was the Chairman and his starting salary of $35,360 is equivalent to $620,00 in 2022, but whose brainchild was the MPAA, really?  That’s a history we aren’t told but based on the MPAA from the mid-1960s on, it’s likelier that Hays was a good politician who knew how to keep his master(s) happy.

 

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            1920’s German cabaret during the Weimar Republic was known for its “freedom of expression,” dancers with little or no clothing, drag queens, depictions of homosexuality and the promotion of hedonism.  Its excesses were criticized by those on the left and the right.  Socialists believed it represented the wastefulness of capitalism and right-wing groups pointed to the moral decay as a sign of a weak government.   While much of the decadence of the period was confined to the stage, there were a few German films of the period with some nudity.

            In the United States however, there was much decadence and moral decay on film, in what is now referred to as the Pre-Code era.  This period lasted from the beginning of the talkies in 1927 until 1934, with the introduction of the Motion Picture Production Code, also known as the Hays code.  The permissiveness displayed in the silent films made many people uncomfortable, but when the actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was accused of the alleged rape and murder of model and actress Virginia Rappe, this was a scandal from which Hollywood struggled to recover.  Enter Will Hays.

            Hays’ role was to persuade censor boards not to ban specific films outright and to advise studios how to produce movies which were unlikely to be cut.  In 1930, Hays initiated “The Formula” as the first attempt at The Code, but this wasn’t successful.  Then he developed “The Don’ts and Be Carefuls,” but Hays’ attempts at pre-release self-censorship largely failed and the cries continued for federal censorship.  The Catholic bishops and laymen were generally against censorship and approved of the idea of industry self-censorship, if it could be made to work.  In 1934, there were widespread threats amongst Catholics to boycott films deemed “immoral” and the Catholic Legion of Decency was formed.  Some high-level Catholics stepped in to help the MPAA develop guidelines.  Laymen Martin Quigley, Joseph Breen and Father Daniel A. Lord, S.J. spent several months discussing what behavior should and shouldn’t be depicted in films.  Father Lord authored the code of behavior which was known as “The Production Code” and the “Hays Code.”  An old witticism described this as “a Jewish owned business selling Catholic theology to Protestant America.” The code was in place from 1934 until 1968. 

            In 1945, Eric Johnston replaced Will Hays who stepped down after 24 years.  In his tenure, Johnston oversaw the first major revision of the production code since it was written in 1930 and set in stone in 1934.  This revision allowed the treatment of some subjects which had previously been forbidden, including abortion and the use of narcotics, so long as they were “within the limits of good taste.”

            In 1963, while still serving as president of the MPAA, Johnston died of a stroke.  The organization functioned without a president for three years while studio executives searched for a replacement.

 

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                Redux 113 is from a talk Alan Watt did for Republic Broadcasting Network entitled “Meet Your New Spouse: Rutting with Robots, Clankers for Wankers” © Alan Watt Oct. 12, 2007

Now so much is happening all the time and people tell me that they're bored. They're bored surfing the internet, which I don't do because I've got so much going on inside my head. However, people who are bored going through the internet don't realize that they're being taken on a magical mystery tour. A magical mystery tour where anything is possible because predictive programming moved from the novels into the science fiction movies into regular movies and into dramas on television.”  Alan read from an article about a paper that had been published out of the University of Maastricht entitled “Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners.”  The author, David Levy, proposed his thesis that intimate relationships with artificial partners “will arise as natural extensions of more conventional human feelings of attraction.”  Levy’s paper is more than three hundred pages long and the word “heart” can be found 28 times, but in the context of heart rates, the heart and stress, et cetera.  In Levy’s world, the heart is an organ whose function can be measured.  The word “love” is featured.  Robots will be programmed to fall in love with humans.  They will “feel” love for humans.  If the robot is emotionally intelligent and says “I love you,” and backs that up with loving actions, what’s the difference between robot love and human love?  Alan said, “Imagine loving a robot. All you have to do is buy them some hydraulic oil once in a while and charge their batteries, eh?

 

                Ex Machina, Blade Runner, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Matrix, The Terminator, 2001: Space Odysee, Her, Metropolis, the television series Westworld.  According to AI researcher Dr. Kate Devlin, sex with robots is about so much more than sex with robots.  “It’s about intimacy and technology, computers and psychology.  It’s about history and archaeology, love and biology. It’s about the future, both near and distant: science fiction utopias and dystopias, loneliness and companionship, law and ethics, privacy and community. Most of all, it’s about being human in a world of machines.”  Or…it’s about sex with a robot, which is horrifying and sad.

 

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                Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is a German expressionist science-fiction full-length science fiction film made in 1927.  In a futuristic dystopia, wealthy industrialists live in their shiny city with gigantic skyscrapers, while below ground, exploited workers operate oversized machines that keep the city functioning.  The son of the city’s master spends his time playing sports and seeking pleasure until he meets a young woman who has taken a group of underground children above ground, to see how their “brothers” live.  The movie features a hallucination of a giant machine that is the temple of Moloch, being fed one worker after another.  The gulf between the conditions of the rich who live in their skyscraper castles and the workers whose lives are bleak, is the central theme of the film and is explicitly referred to in the title card:  The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart.  When the film was released, it met with mixed reviews, but in recent years it has been hailed as a masterpiece, visually awe-inspiring and essential viewing.  Surely this movie was the first time a robot was given female facial features and breasts.

 

A Well-Oiled Machine

 

                The “close ties” that have been cultivated between Hollywood and Washington D.C. for over a hundred years is the topic of examination in this series.  The lobby group, the Motion Picture Association, plays a key role in this symbiotic relationship, as does the Pentagon.  We are shown the future that we are being guided into.  We follow the stars into the next sheep pen.

                Der Golem is a 1915 German silent film, which has been partly lost.  The same story was used in the 1920 film by the same filmmakers entitled Der Golem: How He Came into the World.  The story is about 16th century Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel who predicts disaster for his people and creates the clay Golem to protect them.  In Der Golem, the emperor of Poland accuses a Jewish community in Prague of using black magic and condemns them to leave the city.  The Rabbi prevails upon the emperor by showing him his creation, a giant clay puppet that he has managed to bring to life.  The Golem escapes the control of the Rabbi and brings chaos and destruction to the city until a little girl kills it.

                It has been a few years since I watched this film, but one scene remains etched in my mind.  The Rabbi asks to show the Emperor the Jewish patriarchs so he will better understand them.  He warns them that they must remain silent and refrain from talking or laughing.  The court of the emperor gather in front of the rabbi, who steps up to the stage and conjures smoke and flames.  The astonished crowd watch as an image is then magically projected on the wall which shows his tribesmen traveling across the desert on foot and by donkey.  The emperor’s court is silent and filled with wonder. The rabbi is delighted at the effect this film has on the royal court.  Then a figure on the screen appears, so much larger than life.  “Ahasuerus, the wandering Jew,” reads the text across the screen.  So amazed by the spectacle, the court erupts with laughter and chatter, fingers pointed at the “magical” screen.  As they laugh, the castle began to crumble, and the fearful royalty leapt from the windows, attempting to save themselves, but the rabbi summoned the Golem who props up the ceiling and salvages the disaster.

                What was most memorable to me was not the story of the clay monster, created to project the Jews from antisemitism, or the impressive creature itself, der golem, but how the filmmaker depicted those who were first exposed to film.  This was magic, conjured by smoke and fire; the transformative effect of the images was instantaneous.

 

© Not Sure

 

Additional reading and viewing:

 

How the Pentagon dictates Hollywood storylines

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/us-pentagon-hollywood-storylines-dictates-how

 

Theaters of War

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11841496/

 

Marcia Gay Harden says all three of her adult kids identify as queer

https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/10/entertainment/marcia-gay-harden-children-queer/index.html

 

Washington DC’s role behind the scenes in Hollywood goes deeper than you think

https://theconversation.com/washington-dcs-role-behind-the-scenes-in-hollywood-goes-deeper-than-you-think-80587

 

The Personal Touch - Jack Valenti, MPAA

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2001/08/13/the-personal-touch-3

 

Intimate relationships with artificial partners

https://cris.maastrichtuniversity.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/912939/guid-691fecdb-7850-4ea7-8358-263a8b1e4dec-ASSET1.0.pdf

 

It’s 2023, where are the sex robots? ‘They will probably never be as huge as everyone thinks’

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/jan/14/its-2023-where-are-the-sex-robots-they-will-probably-never-be-as-huge-as-everyone-thinks

 

From Robotics to Virtual Reality: What’s the Future of Sex?

https://healthnews.com/mens-health/sexual-health/from-robotics-to-virtual-reality-whats-the-future-of-sex/

 

Metropolis (1927)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_4no842TX8

 

The Golem - How He Came into the World (1920) Paul Wegener

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jfhuI-o-f4

 

The Golem: How He Came into the World

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Golem:_How_He_Came_into_the_World