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September 17, 2023

Thou Shalt Not, Photograph Created by Whitey Schafer in 1940 to Protest the Hays Code

In 1934, Hollywood photographer A.L. “Whitey” Schafer took this staged photo which mocked the Motion Picture Production Code (aka Hays Code), a set of moral guidelines that were applied to American films that were released from 1934 to 1968. The photo attempted to violate as many rules as possible in one image.

The Motion Picture Production Code stipulated the following:

“No picture shall be produced which will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience shall never be thrown to the side of crime, wrong-doing, evil or sin. Correct standards of life, subject only to the requirements of drama and entertainment, shall be presented. Law, natural or human, shall not be ridiculed, nor shall sympathy be created for its violation.

Prohibitions on:
1. Nudity
2. Suggestive dances
3. Discussions of sexual perversity
4. Superfluous use of liquor
5. Ridicule of religion
6. Miscegenation
7. Lustful kissing
8. Scenes of passion”

The Hays Code stipulated that a kiss can only last 3 seconds. If you watch Hitchcock’s movie, Notorious (1946), there’s a kiss scene that lasts two and a half minutes. The actors just break off every 3 seconds.


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