The Codex Association of America, also known as the Heyss Code ( Hays Code ), is an ethical code for film production in Hollywood , adopted in 1930 by the Film Production and Distribution Association (now the American Film Association ), which became in 1934 unofficial national standard of moral censorship of cinema in the United States . Named after the Republican politician , William Harrison Hays ( Eng. William Harrison Hays ), who headed the Association in 1922-1945. It was possible to make films without observing the Heys code, but such films did not have a chance to be released to hire cinemas owned by members of the association. In the 1960s, film studios abandoned observance of the outdated code; in 1967 it was canceled.
Code of Practice Code of 1927
It was postulated that in the films produced by members of the Association, in no case should the following things appear:
- The use of obscene vocabulary and expressive expressions, including such words as “God”, “Lord”, “Jesus”, “Christ” (unless they are pronounced reverently in connection with proper religious ceremonies), “hell”, “damn” , "Gawd." At the same time, they could be shown written (except for frankly foul language).
- The image of any seductive nudity, moreover, was not allowed to show not only nude actors / actresses, but also their silhouettes or shadows. It was also not allowed for the characters to talk about sex in seductive connotations, only in a censorious one.
- Image of drug trafficking.
- Anything that might make you think about sexual "perversions."
- Show white slavery .
- The image of mixed marriages and indications of interracial sexual relations ( mischief ).
- Showing any manifestations of sexual hygiene and references to sexually transmitted diseases.
- Any scenes of childbirth - the actual or even in the form of silhouettes.
- Demonstration of the genitals of children.
- Making fun of the clergy. The priest on the screen could not be a villain or a comic character.
- Deliberate insults of any nation and any religion (this prohibition did not apply to insults atheists).
Can be shown, but not recommended
- Any questionable actions with the state flag.
- The depiction of international relations (it was recommended to avoid depicting in an unfavorable light religion, history, institutions or prominent citizens of other countries).
- Scenes of arson.
- Scenes of firearms.
- Scenes of torture.
- Detailed scenes of theft, robbery, burglary or explosion of trains, mines, buildings and similar actions (bearing in mind that someone can try to reproduce the shown).
- Any manifestation of cruelty.
- Scenes that demonstrate the technique of murder in any way.
- Scenes showing smuggling methods.
- Scenes of hanging or using electricity as a punishment for a crime.
- Scenes causing sympathy for criminals.
- Scenes censure public figures and institutions.
- Revolts and rebellions.
- Obvious cruelty to children and to animals.
- Scenes of branding people or animals.
- Scenes of selling women or scenes where women sell sex.
- Scenes containing images of rape or attempted rape.
- Scenes containing the image of the first wedding night.
- A man and a woman lying in the same bed.
- Scenes of deliberate seduction of women.
- Anything revealing the institution of the institution of marriage.
- Drug use.
- Names or scenes related to law enforcement or law enforcement agencies.
- Long or sexually attractive kisses, especially when one of the characters in the film is an antagonist, or at least just a “difficult” character.
1930 Code of Practice
The main points remained the same as in the sample of 1927, but several generalizations and appeals were added, moreover, in formulations allowing ambiguous interpretation and freedom of accusation.
- Films are prohibited to "reduce the moral standards of those who see them."
- Filmmakers should strive to describe the "right standards of living."
- It is forbidden to show any mockery of the law or show "sympathy for any violation of the law."
- It is prescribed on the screen to promote the values of a traditional (that is, pre-industrial, European, Christian) society.
- Sexual relationships outside marriage are not allowed to be depicted as attractive or beautiful, it is prescribed instead to depict them in such a way that they do not arouse passion or seem unacceptable.
- It is argued that one should either adhere to the rule “policy for adults only” (that is, since 1955 for anyone, since all films, according to the ranking adopted this year, were made “for children”), or show that lead to the right thoughts and political ideas of young people.
- All criminal cases should be shown as ending in punishment, and neither the crime nor the perpetrator should evoke sympathy from the audience, or the audience should at least “realize that this behavior is wrong.”
- It is necessary to treat with respect to authoritative figures, representatives of the clergy can not be depicted as comic characters or villains. In some cases, politicians, policemen and judges could be villains if it is clear from the film that these people portrayed as villains are the exception to the rule.
- Some restrictions, such as a ban on the display of everything related to homosexuality , or the use of specific biblical words, were never mentioned directly, but were considered understandable without clear demarcation.
- An addendum was also introduced, commonly referred to as the Advertising Code, which regulated the display of advertising images, product images and similar things.
In 1922, after several risky films and a series of scandals involving Hollywood stars, the studios hired Presbyterian Elder Will Hayes to restore the “godly” image of Hollywood. With the help of internal censorship of films it was supposed to counteract the external censorship of films and the scandalous fame of some Hollywood stars of those years as either people of dubious behavior, or even as criminals. Hollywood in the 1920s was marred by a series of widely publicized scandals, such as the murder of William Desmond Taylor and the alleged rape of Virginia Rapp by the popular movie star Roscoe Arbuckle. All this caused widespread condemnation of Hollywood studios by religious, civil and political organizations. In addition, as early as 1920, there were topless shows in the arsenal of the state of New York; speeches filled with “use of biblical words in vain”; mature plots and dialogues hinting at sexual overtones. Political pressure on the film industry increased, and lawmakers in 37 states in 1921 banned the hire of more than 100 Hollywood films. Faced with the prospect of adhering to hundreds and possibly thousands of inconsistent and easily changeable laws on propriety, in order to be able to show their films at the box office, the studio chose self-regulation as the most preferable option. Heisu was paid a huge amount of $ 100,000 a year for those times (which in terms of 2000 would be $ 1.4 million, adjusted for inflation). Heys developed a set of censorship rules for the association of Hollywood studios and was the administrator of the committee that monitored the implementation of this set of items. In 1927, Hayes suggested that studio managers form a committee to discuss film censorship. Irving G. Talberg from Metro Goldwyn Mayer studio, Saul Würzel from Fox studio and E. H. Allen from Paramount studio entered the first composition of this committee, they conducted work on discussing censorship of films, which was called “Don'ts and Be Carefuls”, which was based on points obtained by interviewing local censors. This list consisted of eleven items that were to be avoided altogether and twenty-six items that were recommended to be avoided. The list was approved by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and Hayes created the Committee on Relations with Film Studios Associations (SRC) to monitor compliance with this list - the “Hayes Code”.
Further development of the code
In 1929, the Catholic layman Martin Quigley (editor of the well-known trading newspaper “Motion Picture Herald”) and Jesuit priest Daniel A. Lord created a code for censoring film standards and sent him to the studio. The Lord was especially interested in the influence of sound films on children, due to their high suggestibility. Perhaps he believed that the church should subjugate this instrument of influence on children. In February 1930, several studio executives, including Irving Talberg of MGM, met Lord and Quigley. After some revisions, they agreed to the provisions of the Code. One of the main motivating factors in adopting the Code was to avoid direct government intervention in censorship or movie rental. So a set of rules of the sample of 1930 appeared, which they began to call, in fact, "the" code "of film production."
The entire document was written with explicit Catholic overtones and stated that art must be carefully crafted because it can be “morally evil in its effects” and because its “deep moral meaning” was indisputable. Initially, it was decided to preserve the Catholic influence on the film production code. The recurring theme was that “in everything, the audience is confident that evil is wrong, and good is right”.
When the “code” was announced, the liberal magazine The Nation published an attack on it. The publication said that if a crime was never presented in a pretty light, it would literally mean that the “law” and “justice” would become one and the same. Therefore, events such as " Boston Tea Party ", it will be impossible to portray on the screen. If the clergy should always be presented in a positive way, then hypocrisy, and the immoral actions of the clergy that are well known in history, cannot be considered in the cinema either.
The great depression of the 1930s forced many studios to look for income in any way. Since films containing vivid and brutal content had high box office, it seemed reasonable to continue producing such films. Soon, code violation became a “well-known secret”. In 1931, The Hollywood Reporter scoffed at the code and quoted an anonymous screenwriter, saying that “Hayes’s moral code is no longer a joke, it's just a memory.”
On June 13, 1934, an amendment to the Code, in which the Production Code Administration (PCA) was created, required all films released on or after July 1, 1934, to be reviewed by the administration and received her certificate of approval for the film rolling. The PCA had two offices — one in Hollywood and the other in New York. The first film to be approved was The World Moves On (1934). For over thirty years, almost all movies created in the United States have adhered to the “code”. The production code was not created and monitoring of its observance was not carried out either by the federal, state or city governments; Hollywood studios adhered to this “code” largely in the hope of avoiding state censorship, preferring self-regulation rather than government regulation. The adoption of the “Production Code” by the studios led to the dissolution of many local censorship councils.
Thomas Doherty, a professor of American studies at Brandeis University, defined the “code” as “... not a simple list of“ You-Be-Do-Notes ”, but a sermon that sought to bring the Catholic doctrine into the Hollywood industry. "The guilty are punished, the virtuous are rewarded, the authority of the church and the state is unshakable, and the bonds of marriage are sacred." What happened in the Hollywood film industry was described as "Jewish business selling Catholic theology to Protestant America." The implication was that a number of directors at Hollywood film studios were Jewish immigrants. In addition, this fact itself made them vulnerable to blackmail and stigmatization.
Persistence of Code
In 1934, Joseph Brin, a prominent layman Catholic who worked in public relations, was appointed head of the new Office of the Production Code (PCA). Under the leadership of Brin in the PCA, until his retirement in 1954, the enforcement of the Production Code became tough and notorious. (Even the cartoon sex symbol Betty Boop had to give up her pants and start wearing the skirt of an old-fashioned housewife.) Bryn’s power to change scenarios and scenes angered many writers, directors and Hollywood magnates. Bryn influenced the production of Casablanca, objecting to any particular reference to Rick and Ils, who slept together in Paris.
The PCA Committee also engaged in political censorship. When Warner Brothers wanted to make a film about concentration camps in Nazi Germany, the production committee banned it, citing the aforementioned ban on the “unfavorable light” of “other institutions” and prominent people in another country - banned using threats to transfer the case to the FBI, the studio will continue to work on the film. This policy has prevented the creation of a number of anti-Nazi films.
Briefly: in the late 1950s, the film industry consistently followed the principles established by the code, but during this time, compliance with the code began to weaken due to the combined effect of the advent of television, influence from foreign films, controversial Oscar-winning directors (such as Otto Preminger ), pushing the boundaries and interventions by the courts, including the Supreme Court.
Hollywood continued to work within the framework of the Production Code during the 1950s, but during this time the film industry has faced very serious competitive threats. The first threat came from a new technology, television, which did not require Americans to leave their homes to watch movies. Now the limitations of film distribution have become less relevant. In addition to the threat of television, competition with foreign films such as Bicycle Thieves, Vittorio de Sica (Bicycle Thieves, 1948), Summer of Happiness (One Summer of Happiness, 1951) and Summer with Monika , 1953) Swedish director Ingmar Bergman. It was found that attempts to ban these films, as well as the seizure of the only institution's right to censor films, violates antitrust laws. Studios could not keep foreign films, and foreign films were not bound by the production code. Some British films - Victim (1961), A Taste of Honey (1961) and The Leather Boys (1963) - challenged traditional gender roles and openly opposed prejudices against homosexuals, which was clearly contrary to the Hollywood production code.
In 1952, in the "Joseph Burstyn, Inc." vs. Wilson ”, the US Supreme Court unanimously reversed its 1915 decision (“ Mutual Film Corporation ”against the Ohio State Industrial Commission) and ruled that movies have the right to be protected by the first amendment to the US Constitution (Freedom of Speech), New York State Regents could not ban the Miracle, a short film that made up half of the tape L'Amore (1948), an anthological film directed by Roberto Rossellini. Since the US judicial system is a case law , these and other similar cases have created precedents that lawyers could rely on.
In light of this, the threat of state regulation, which was previously mentioned as an excuse for the production code, has reappeared - but now the court defended not advocates of censorship, but advocates of freedom of speech. At the same time, PCA’s authority over the Hollywood industry was significantly reduced. By the 1950s, American culture also began to change. The boycott of the National Legion of Decency no longer guaranteed the film’s commercial failure, and some aspects of the “code” slowly lost their taboo status. In 1956, the clauses of the “code” were again rewritten to make such things as intermarriage, extra-marital relations, and prostitution acceptable. For example, in 1940 and in 1946, MGM twice prevented a comedy film about Anna Christie on prostitution to be shown. By 1962, such content was acceptable, and the original film was approved.
By the end of the 1950s, more and more frank films began to appear, such as Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Suddenly Last Summer (1959), Psycho (1960) and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs ( 1961). The MPAA reluctantly provided stamp of approval for these films, although not without the requirement to make certain cuts. Because of the content of the film “Some Like It Hot” (1959), Billie Wilder was not given a certificate of approval for the show, but the film still became a box-office bestseller, and as a result, this further weakened the authority of Codex.
In the early 1960s, films began to deal with the themes of adult life and sexual problems that have been missing from Hollywood films since the early 1930s. MPAA reluctantly, but still provided stamp of approval for such films. In 1966, Warner Bros. released Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the first film that was labeled as “For an Adult Audience” (SMA).
Complete rejection of the code
By the end of the 1960s, enforcement of the code was no longer possible, and the Heiss Production Code was completely aborted. The MPAA began working on a rating system whereby restrictions on films would be reduced and ranked. In 1968, after several years of minimum compliance, the Production Code was replaced by the MPAA film rating system. The MPAA movie rating system came into effect on November 1, 1968 with four ratings: G for general audiences, M for mature content, R for limited show (viewers under 17 are not allowed without an adult) and X for sexually-explicit content. By the end of 1968, Jeffrey Sherlock, the successor to Joseph Breen, appointed by Will Hayes, the last administrator of the Hollywood Code of Conduct Supervision Committee, resigned from his post.
Relapse in other countries
In 2011, Prime Minister V. Putin spoke in favor of introducing a cinematic code like Heisovsky in Russia  .
There are many anecdotal cases associated with the operation of the code. For example, the performer of the role of Tarzan was ordered to shave his chest, and the magnificent forms of the actresses checked for compliance with the standards of decency by specially appointed “busters controllers”  . Later, the code served as a prototype for making similar self-restrictions for comic book publishers .
As M. Trofimenkov remarks, the abolition of the code is related to the fact that in the 1960s "the cinema's lengthy corset could not compete with the films of Italian neo-realism or the French" new wave " that had poured into America, which, of course, were not obscene, but just freer and truer than Hollywood products "  .
- Kolesnikov A.I. Vladimir Putin proposed to revive the Hays Code in Russia // Kommersant Newspaper No. 218 dated 11/22/2011, p. 6
- M. Trofimenkov. Of all the arts, cinema is non-art for us // Kommersant Weekend Magazine No. 47 of December 9, 2011, p. 16