Perversion for Profit (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #1147 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This 50s film features anti-porn crusader George Putnam preaching a sermon on the evils of pornography. He claims that the examples that he shows (from what looks like a vast collection) can be bought at any newsstand, but interspersed with the usual girlie and pulp magazine stuff are pictures from S&M publications, which I highly doubt you could buy at a newsstand during the 50s. The milder pulp and girlie magazine stuff, lest viewers think it really isn’t that bad, he argues against by saying it “leads to” certain kinds of deviancy, or purporting it has hidden meanings designed to lure youth down the long slide to moral degeneracy. Examples: A naked girl in a farm scene with a goat in the background is about bestiality; a bunch of naked girls together in the same picture is about lesbianism; scantily-clad musclemen in body-building magazines exist for no other purpose than to entice youth into homosexuality (he even claims that “psychologists” state that adult heterosexual men who see “too much” body-building material will become homosexual); any showing of the buttocks is all about sodomy; and a picture of a bare-chested man holding a white sheet (not wearing it, mind you, but just holding it) is somehow about transvesticism. But if that doesn’t get his message across, there’s always the S&M stuff to shock the sensibilities of the straightlaced folks this film was made for. He lambasts nudist magazines by reporting a case of a teenaged sex offender who raped and killed a 5-year-old girl, and who stated he read such magazines; obviously this is the only cause of his criminal behavior––no other factors are considered for a second. How convenient for such criminals––they can blame their behavior entirely on magazines! And how convenient for society––it’s those offensive magazines and paperback books that cause crime, so we don’t have to deal with those messy disturbing factors like child abuse, poverty, drugs, or discrimination. He lambasts paperback books by reading a passage from one of them in which a teenaged gang member talks about how he enjoys the “kicks” of sex, alcohol, drugs, and criminal activity. The passage is indeed somewhat disturbing, but Putnam gives us no context for it, so we don’t know whether or not the story was written to make us identify or agree with this criminal character. Perhaps the passage was included to establish just what a bad guy he was. Putnam ends by invoking religion, saying that our government is founded on God’s laws. I guess he’s never read the First Amendment––he certainly has no knowledge of the concept of separation between church and state. Of course, this is all appalling, but there’s a creepiness about this film that keeps it from being much fun. Putnam seems to me to be a little too interested in this “perverted” stuff he is trying to stamp out. His extreme interpretations of a lot of it give you a glimpse into just how dirty his own mind probably was. And he’s so strident that after awhile I just wanted him to shut up.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: *** (sadly, these kinds of attitudes are not that unusual, in the 50s or even today). Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *** (gets docked for being painful to watch).

No comments:

Better Reading

Better Reading . Teenager Harold Wilson has a problem—he can’t read for (expletive deleted). So he has to spend all his free time studying ...