Saturday, December 19, 2020

Hollywood was never our friend

 We watch old movies and TV shows almost exclusively. I've known that Hollywood kept pushing perversion for decades and were only kept in check by the Church but I'm seeing how Hollywood executives managed to subtly manipulate the public even in the so called Golden Age of entertainment. It was often done with such a delicate touch that it must have taken a huge amount of rewriting and meetings to pull it off. 

Rocky was watching a nearly 60 year old Western TV show a few weeks ago  and suddenly I saw something that I never would have noticed as a child. The heroine owns a saloon (No, it's not Gunsmoke), but to my adult eyes it seemed more like a brothel with scantily clad "girls" living upstairs. The hero is the local sheriff and he and lady saloon owner have a relationship that will not end in marriage,  because the heroine likes her freedom and the sheriff doesn't want to be tied down or leave a widow in case he gets killed trying to clean up his very rough town. 

A local farm girl leaves her dreary, puritanical father and finds work and happiness in the saloon. Her widower father is broken hearted and shows up at the saloon demanding that his daughter return home. He is shocked to see that a cowboy is apparently sleeping in his daughter's room and he angrily tells the woman owner of the saloon that she is a sinner who has debauched his child. He comes back late that night with his shot gun and is prevented from killing the cowboy by the sheriff.

 It turns out that the girl is not a prostitute and she and the cowboy are married. The saloon is really just a saloon, (probably for the sake of the censors), and the scantily clad girls who work there just serve food and drinks and flirt but really don't do anything upstairs but sleep alone. The father is made a fool of and everyone laughs at him while he stands there looking embarrassed but relieved. That show very cleverly made the church going father look bad.  That was a poison in the subconscious of the young viewers. 

Another movie that I watched was even more overt. In this one a local woman is an adulteress who sees a murder as she returns from her off screen assignation with her lover. An innocent man is accused and is going to hang. He has one witness, a girl from the saloon who says she saw him going about his own business at the time of the murder and he had nothing to do with it. The innocent man's lawyer, who is the hero of the movie somehow finds out about the local wife and questions her in court. Desperate to save her marriage and not be humiliated in public, she perjures herself. The prosecutor jumps up and demands that the court can't possibly take the word of a harlot over that of  a respectable married woman. The innocent man's lawyer gets the married woman to confess and the innocent man is saved from the gallows. This movie was made in the late 40s or early 50s but it deliberately made the prostitute the truly good woman and denigrates the married lady. Hollywood was never our friend.