National league of decency

has anyone heard of this organization? apparently it was an ancestor – direct or indirect, i’m not sure – of the usccb’s office for film and broadcasting.

last night i was watching “elmer gantry” on amc and host robert osborne mentioned in his introductory remarks the catholic league of decency (the original name of the national league of decency) in the context of why the film wasn’t made until 1960.

he characterized it more or less as a self-appointed censor which until the 1960’s could make or break a film by withholding a favorable rating, in which case catholic filmgoers would refuse to see the film.

the academy of motion picture’s description that i posted the link for above doesn’t come across as nearly so scary.

This group of responsible Catholics was following the Biblical principles of helping your brother in Christ to not stumble by seeing movies that contained objectionable, to Catholics, material. The Church was solidly behind them. There was no direct censorship by the Church, Catholics were simply given a list of judgements by the League that they pledged to follow as families and individuals. The Church recognized early on what power the motion picture contained to affect people (film was used effectively as a propaganda tool during World War II for example). The goal was to encourage holy living. After the League disappeared in 1970, Hollywood gradually upped the amount of immoral and objectionable material in films and hard core pornography became widespread.

God bless,

No Ed, the absence of the League is not what caused violent movies to appear.

The more likely thing is that people decided that rather than relying on a small group of people to make decisions for them, they could make those decisions on their own.

There is documented evidence that motion pictures and television programs began the slow poisoning of the Body of Christ in the 1970s. A small group of companies literally controls the media in the United States today.

God bless,

No. There’s documented evidence that society continued to evolve and change. The 30’s were different than the 20’s, the 40’s different from the 30’s, etc, etc, etc.

The urge to do new things and break boundaries is innate in humans.

Or did you expect that we’d all stick with black and white TV’s watching I Love Lucy for the next 300 years?

Yeah, and they’re all a bunch of villains sitting around trying to figure out ways to undermine Christian values, right?

in ed’s defense, there does seem to be a coarsening and sleazifying (new word) effect at work in popular entertainment. we seem to have gone from “i love lucy” to “love boat” to “shot at love with tila tequila” at dizzying speed.

i disagree with ed that it happened as a direct cause of the dissolution of the national league for decency. i think a number of things in society at large changed during the course of the 1960’s, beginning with the relationship of catholics to their church hierarchy.

it’s very difficult now for the bishops to issue a command and get people to comply in lockstep formation. that’s partly because people have a more consumer-oriented relationship with organized religion than they used to, and partly because, due to cultural assimilation and affluence, “catholics” are not the monolithic group they once were.

if it were simply a question of the existence of the national league for decency, wouldn’t the usccb office for film and broadcasting play the same role?

Oh, no, I definitely agree.

I just think that there were many factors for that, all of them due to a combination of new technologies and human nature.

Not a small group of people who, for whatever reason, hate Christianity.

You should pick up a copy of The Marketing of Evil.

I was there as first, the Hippies, followed by the Abortionists, followed by the National Organization for Women, followed by the Adult Bookstore owners, the cable-porn industry, and finally, the internet-porn industry, not to mention all the lawyers behind No-Fault Divorce, tried to change the country.

A nice try at social engineering, but not only are Christians reacting but more secular types as well. Hollywood, like most of humanity, tends toward the sinful. Evveryone needs rules to live by. Movies that show boy meets girl, hop into bed, find out how dysfunctional they are, and break up, are wrong.

God bless,

Ooooohhhh, I get it now. You’re just nuts.

I remember the Legion of Decency. Basically, it provided movie ratings. Most Catholic parents wouldn’t allow their children to go to movies that had been rated as “condemned” by the Legion. Neither would they go themselves. So, for a few decades, it did have a lot of economic clout with movie producers. The clout faded, and now, most Catholics probably wouldn’t know what rating the USCCB has given to a movie.

As for cultural decline, a personal anecdote. Growing up in KC, I used to go to a bookstore located downtown, to get my monthly science fiction magazines. At that time, the store had newspapers from all over the country, and a wide variety of general, literary, and even scientific, magazines, and tucked in the back, a small selection of porn.

As the years went on, I continued to get magazines there, but later moved away. Some decades later, I happened to stop in the place with my little brother—the youngest of five. It seemed that by then, the tiny porn section in the back had grown enormously, and was now spread out all over the front and sides, while I had to dig in the back to find the SF mags. He told me later that he had been totally scandalized by what he saw. You might say that the decline of the culture was reflected in the layout of the store.

Indeed, the decline was gradual, which lulled too many people into a sense that things were not that bad. Now that they’ve become much worse, with no sign of improving, many are rejecting the media. A return to a more Orthodox Catholocism is in progress.

God bless,

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