Sometimes, one cultural form takes decades longer to reach a path on which another has already tread. In the case of American film, the restrictions produced by the inflexible Production Code meant that what was more freely expressed in other artistic forms, most prominently in both literature and theater, was generally castigated of content that was offensive to the Catholic-based moral strictures of the Hays Office authority. Themes found provocative, usually dealing with the sexual (especially what was considered aberrant, i.e. homosexuality) and the morally depraved (curiously, this was not exclusive to criminal or blatantly antisocial behaviors, but also included such domestic indiscretions as adultery or, in the case of the more perversely myopic stretches of Production Code moralizing: miscegenation) were banished outright as cinematic content unless the materials were reworked in heavily disguised fashion to obliterate overt hints of “moral depravity” from the film: thus leading interesting avenues open for the advancement of genres that were able to transmute the offending content more easily within their specific stylized characteristics- film noir, the advent of the “adult” western and even the musical form.
Subject to later, but no less strenuous external creative pressures was the comics industry, which was criticized and castigated by fervent crusaders as a detriment to the youth of the nation; the campaign of negativity finding its fullest expression in the infamous 1954 book by Frederic Wertham M.D., “Seduction of the Innocent” which blamed what the author saw as a growing danger of depraved juveniles running rampant under the influence of zombies, eye-gouging villains and the sexual subtext (as he saw it) of, amongst others, a presumed lesbian Wonder Woman, and presumed homosexual partners Batman and Robin. With this book as a fuel for moralistic hysteria, coupled with hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, the industry was forced into accepting their own version of the motion picture Production Code, the self-regulating, censorial board, the Comics Code Authority, which exists in a symbolic sense, if no other, to this very day. The CAA effectively banned graphic depictions of violence and mayhem, removing the very source of EC comics’ widespread appeal, and forcing them to cease publication of their most successful titles.
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