Perversion for Profit
|Perversion for Profit|
George Putnam in Perversion for Profit
|Narrated by||George Putnam|
|Distributed by||Citizens for Decent Literature, Inc.|
|Running time||31 mins.|
Perversion for Profit is a 1965 propaganda film financed by Charles Keating and narrated by news reporter George Putnam. A vehement diatribe against pornography, the film argues that sexually explicit materials corrupt young viewers and readers, leading to acts of violence and "perverted" attitudes regarding sex—including inclination toward homosexuality. Although Perversion for Profit is quite serious in its suggestion that pornography could erode the integrity of American culture, Peter L. Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in a 2003 review that it was "shrill and sometimes comical".
Today, Perversion for Profit is in the public domain, and due largely to its unintentional humor value, it has become popular on the Prelinger Archives website and on YouTube. As Peter L. Stein observes in an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, however, the film also has considerable historical significance, serving as a sort of time capsule of pornography from the era as well as an example of historical concerns regarding media influence:
...as the parade of girlie magazine covers, men's physique pictorials and campy S&M leaflets continues, the film betrays a kind of prurience the filmmakers could hardly have intended. What results is a remarkable visual record of midcentury underground literature and sexual appetites, and a gloss on the values of the society that condemned them.
At the time the Chronicle article was written, Perversion was the Prelinger Archive's second most popular download, superseded only by the well-known Cold War film Duck and Cover. Like Stein, ephemeral film scholar Rick Prelinger, founder of the Archive, views such films as illuminating historical documents or what he calls "unofficial evidence of everyday life".
To bolster his position, Putnam makes a reference to "Dr. Sorokin, the renowned Harvard sociologist". This individual is Pitirim Sorokin, a Russian-American who founded Harvard's Sociology department and served as the American Sociological Association's 55th president.
In order to provide an example of corruptive literature, Putnam reads a lurid passage from a pulp fiction novel entitled Sex Jungle. Published in 1960, Sex Jungle was credited to Don Elliot, a pseudonym for Robert Silverberg, a prolific science fiction novelist. In a 2000 interview, Silverberg explained that the erotic fiction that he published under the Don Elliot pseudonym...
"... was undertaken at a time when I was saddled with a huge debt, at the age of 26, for a splendid house that I had bought. There would have been no way to pay the house off by writing science fiction in that long-ago era, when $2500 was a lot to earn from a novel that might take months to write, so I turned out a slew of quick sex novels. I never concealed the fact that I was doing them; it made no difference at all to me whether people knew or not. It was just a job. And it was, incidentally, a job that I did very well. I think they were outstanding erotic novels."
- "Now, you might ask yourself 'Why this sudden concern? Pornography and sex deviation have always been with mankind.' This is true. But, now, consider another fact: never in the history of the world have the merchants of obscenity, the teachers of unnatural sex acts, had available to them the modern facilities for disseminating this filth. High-speed presses, rapid transportation, mass distribution: all have combined to put the vilest obscenity within reach of every man, woman, and child in the country."—George Putnam, narrator.
- "This same type of rot and decay caused sixteen of the nineteen major civilizations to vanish from the Earth. Magnificent Egypt, classical Greece, imperial Rome, all crumbled away not because of the strength of the aggressor, but because of moral decay from within. But we are in a unique position to cure our own ills: our Constitution was written by men who put their trust in God and founded a government based in His laws. These laws are on our side. We have a constitutional guarantee of protection against obscenity. And, in this day especially, we must seek to deliver ourselves from this twisting, torturing evil. We must save our nation from decay and deliver our children from the horrors of perversion. We must make our land, 'the land of the free', a safe home. Oh, God, deliver us, Americans, from evil."—George Putnam, narrator (closing words).
- "This moral decay weakens our resistance to the onslaught of the communist masters of deceit."—George Putnam, narrator.
- Censorship in the United States
- Dating Do's and Don'ts
- Freedom of speech in the United States
- List of films in the public domain
- Reefer Madness
- Sex education
- Sexual morality
- Sex Madness
- The Story of Menstruation
- This Film Is Not Yet Rated
- Stein, Peter L. "A Rejected Genre: Those kitschy and cautionary starchy industrial and educational films provide an Illuminating Peek at the Past 75 Years of American Culture". San Francisco Chronicle (August 31, 2003). Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- American Sociological Association. "Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin". American Sociological Association. American Sociological Association. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- "The Works of Robert Silverberg". The Quasi-Official Robert Silverberg Web Site. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Horwich, David. "Interview: Robert Silverberg". Strange Horizons. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
- Friedersdorf, Conor (February 1, 2013). "Pornography 'Weakens our Resistance to the Communist Masters of Deceit': And other warnings from the 1961 film Perversion for Profit, the Reefer Madness of porn". The Atlantic (The Atlantic Monthly Group). Retrieved April 20, 2013.
- Strub, Whitney (May 2006). "Perversion for Profit: Citizens for Decent Literature and the Arousal of an Antiporn Public in the 1960s". Journal of the History of Sexuality 15 (2): 258–291. doi:10.1353/sex.2007.0013.
- Strub, Whitney (2010). Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography and the Rise of the New Right. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0231148860.
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