So I originally had this as a blog post on boardgamegeek.com. I suspected it would be too hot for it to handle. Sure enough, before the day was over:
“Your blog has been deleted due to multiple severe violations of site rules, including defending sexism and objectification, dismissiveness to concerns about inclusiveness, personal attacks, and antagonizing.”
And when they mean “blog,” they don’t just mean this post that I’m basically going to mirror on this site. They mean EVERY post that I have ever made under the “Board Game Philosophy” blog title, which is roughly 30 blog posts I think. Jesus suffering Christ, that’s overkill isn’t it? Considering all my other posts weren’t anywhere near as bad as this one in terms of arguments against inclusion. Granted, I’ve evolved a bit since my earlier posts, but I referred to them every now and again for an introspective. My thoughts on what I thought about dice rolling, solo gaming, critiquing games objectively, etc. Basically the only surviving posts from that series are my rant against Gloom of Kilforth, and then my apology for the rant. I mean, fuck man. Those EU articles about Internet censorship must really be fucking them in the ass if they want to fuck users who have legit grievances about board game news up the ass that hard.
Dismissiveness to concerns about inclusiveness? Could’ve just said “dismissive.” But anyway, that was the whole point. The whole point of the blog was an argument against inclusiveness! Bunch of hypocritical cocksuckers these admins, especially when they’ve got exclusive groups on their inclusive site.
I’ve heard about how restrictive this site was, how hypocritical and selective the admins were about what comments they would allow and which they wouldn’t. But now I see how bad it really is. Honestly, after seeing this, it’s worse than I thought. So bad that you can’t even argue about how the community would be better without inclusiveness. So bad that they don’t even practice what they preach!
Your life is trite and jaded Boring and confiscated If that’s your best, your best won’t do
Whatever, here’s my damn blog post that got me a stern talking to (and worse). I did add in some fuck-bombs though, for this site (along with some images and vids).
Studio employees had little time or energy for social life except when they were not working, and in those circumstances they stuck as close as they could to other motion-picture people, hoping to find a new assignment.
After working together all day, players and directors often dined together, visited together. For many performers, whose theatrical work had forced them to travel and live for months at a time in hotels or boarding houses, it was their first opportunity to own a home and live year-round in the same place. Lacking the rich cultural attractions of New York, and the competition and acquaintanceship of creative workers in allied arts, they fell in upon themselves with the intensity sometimes found in isolated, specialized groups, such as diplomats in a foreign capital. They became distinctive, self-aware, permanently settled community of entertainers.
The first real motion picture celebrity was an actress who went by the alias Biograph Girl. It wasn’t until 1910 when she was signed by Universal Pictures for advertisements and personal appearance tours (not to mention going on to appear in 300 films); that was when her name was revealed, Florence Lawrence. She would also go on to invent (but not patent) the automobile “signaling arm” (to indicate when you’re turning and which direction) and the first mechanical brake signal in 1914. She would fall on hard times after suffering from relapse in 1914, her career would flounder in the early 1920s, suffer from bad personal relationships, and commit suicide in 1938. She would not be the first, or last, celebrity to suffer a terrible late-career fate. But she would outlive others, who became stars after her.
1914, Mary Pickford became the first real movie superstar. Canadian-born, co-founder of United Artists film studio in 1919 (as did the other famous film star Charlie Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith), she would star in 52 feature films. Her fame faded when “talkies” (film with sound) grew in popularity from 1927 and onwards. She retired from acting in 1933, and became an alcoholic (the same year prohibition ended). After a tumultuous relationship with her family members, she became a recluse for the rest of her life until her death in 1979.
1914-1919, Theda Bara became popular. Known as one of the earliest motion picture sex symbols, she was also known for being a vamp (dark and seductive) in her film roles. Unfortunately, most of her films have been lost to the ravages of time.
Women’s clubs/organizations were prevalent during this time period. They worked heavily to make prohibition and women’s suffrage legal. Meanwhile the film industry was providing more career opportunities than anything else at the time. Some women also learned to use their good looks to their advantage when off-camera.
Intelligent girls learned to calculate a man’s worth. Enterprising aspirants had several alternatives: they could be supported as mistresses; could marry; could divorce for the alimony; could sue for breach of promise; could blackmail. The leering mogul may have been a real figure, but so, too, was the producer who always kept his door open and never saw a young woman in his office without another person present. Smart women did not become streetwalkers on Skid Row; some of them bankrolled their charms into acting careers.
— Sklar, p.76
1917, the same year famous silent film star Buster Keaton arrived on the film scene, America entered into World War I. Soon after, the film The Spirit of ’76 is released. A film portraying the Revolutionary War. The film would be confiscated by the Chicago censorship board maker of the film, and Robert Goldstein would later be tried and convicted under the Espionage Act, for portraying Britain, America’s ally in World War I, in a negative light. This film has been lost to the ravages of time.
December 18, 1917, thanks to the efforts of women’s rights organizations, the 18th Amendment (prohibition) is proposed by Congress. Prohibition would become the rule of federal law two years later.
November 11, 1918, World War I ends, and the American economy took a nosedive. There was no need to be manufacturing weapons and inventory for war now. When the soldiers returned stateside, they flooded an overwhelmed job market made all the worse when a depression hit at the start of 1920. It made many look forward to finding an escape from reality and into entertainment. Since the motion picture industry showed no signs of slowing down, and with the growing popularity of various movie celebrities, the movies were an optimal choice. And with the European continent devastated by the war and in poor financial straits, it was prime time for Hollywood films to take advantage of the international market like never before.
January 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment is adopted into law. Billy Sunday declares:
The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent.
1919, popular actor Wallace Reid suffered a serious leg injury. In order to finish filming the scenes he was to be in for the film In the Valley of the Giants, the studio would have their doctor provide Reid morphine. From that point on, without having time set aside to allow him to recuperate, Reid would become addicted to morphine.
September 28, 1920 – Eddie Cicotte and Joe Jackson confess to participated in the fixing of the 1919 World Series by the Black Sox. The scandal causes the creation of the position of ‘Commissioner’ to serve as the public face of reform. The film industry would learn from this example as it formed the Motion Picture Producer Distributors of America (MPPDA). Similar scandals were arising within Hollywood, with accounts of celebrities having booze parties and prostitutes, having plenty of money and connections to live a party lifestyle when they weren’t working. Meanwhile church leaders and women’s organizations would continue to rally the public against Hollywood.
1918, Charlie Chaplin (age 29) abruptly marries 16-year-old Mildred Harris. They divorced two years later, causing quite a public stir. In 1922, he married Lolita McMurry, also 16 (making the name almost ironically appropriate). They would divorce in 1927 after a sensational divorce case. During this sensational divorce, women’s clubs successfully urged some states to bar the showing of Chaplin pictures.
Starting in the 1920s, Hollywood allowed mandated abortions on their actresses. Studios determined whether or not a pregnant actress to should keep the baby (taking into account demand for her star presence in their upcoming films). Joan Crawford, Jeanette MacDonald, Tallulah Bankhead, and Bette Davis had abortions for the sake of their careers in motion pictures. Studios even pressured (forcefully) some actresses, such as Jean Harlow and Judy Garland (who became pregnant in 1941 at age 19) were forced to have abortions, sometimes with their parents contributing towards pressuring them to having an abortion (that includes the mother, particularly in Garland’s case).
August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment (women’s suffrage) was adopted into law. Politicians began courting the new block of potential voters.
September 5, 1920 – Model and actress Olive Thomas accidentally ingests mercury bichloride and kills herself. The bichloride had been prescribed to her husband, Jack Pickford to treat his chronic syphilis. The press ran wild with the incident, some accusing Pickford of murder, others declaring Thomas committing suicide after her husband forced her to participate in drug-induced orgies, among other wild theories. This became one of the first big scandals that would rock Hollywood.
Thanksgiving 1920, a gang of around 8 young men would drug and sexually assault 2 teenage girls in San Francisco. This incident would make headlines, and be perpetuated when more women came forward with similar rape charges (referring to separate but similar incidents). 75 women’s clubs would have their representatives attend a meeting on December 13, 1920, and form the Women’s Vigilance Committee (WVC). Their goal: to curb vice, and support female victims, witnesses, and family members at trials.
March 1921, the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry (established in 1916) would issue “Thirteen Points” that the movie industry was to avoid for the sake of avoiding promotion of immoral conduct, in order to appease the ever-growing protests of religious/womens organizations. This ultimately didn’t work, as many studios flat-out ignored the existence of the points.
Americans had always been of mixed minds about great wealth. They agreed it was a desirable goal, but they feared the temptations that came with the power of money–the release it gave from ordinary social restraints.
Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle would begin his rise to fame in 1913. He was a big name alongside that of Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton, even working with both of them on separate occasions (and was close friends with Keaton). A comedian who’s role was largely slapstick humor, and taking the blunt of most jokes (partly because his on-screen character deserved it at times). However, September 5, 1921, Labor Day, that day marked an incident that would not only change his life forever, but also drastically accelerate the controversy of the motion picture industry (let alone Hollywood), and increase the pressure from both women and religious organizations. It was a night of partying at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco for Arbuckle and company. A party with plenty of booze, which was illegal at the time, though virtually all major Hollywood stars did this.
Arbuckle would spend a portion of the evening alone in a room with another aspiring film actress Virginia Rappe, a woman who used to be a fashion model, advocated for women to seek non-traditional forms of employment, became a clothing designer, all before she reached the age of 25 (though she would lie about her age during her film career, claiming to be younger than she was). After they spent a portion of the evening together at the party, she would spend the next two days in physical pain before being admitted to an asylum for treatment. (It was common for actors to get medically treated anywhere but hospitals to keep things on the down-low, especially since actors were known within the industry to be drug users and alcoholics, which could cause medical problems the industry didn’t want to be made public.) She would die September 9, 1921, 4 days after the event at the hotel. William Arbuckle would be accused of rape and manslaughter, be arrested, and tried at the courts.
From there, the controversy would explode. This event would be the catalyst women and religious organizations had been praying for to ignite their war on film, and turn the war in their favor on what they considered an immoral practice that needed to be reigned in and suppressed. It would also be the catalyst that would cause the government to get even more involved in the industry, outside of pro-war propaganda films (which was no longer relevant since the Great War’s end in 1918). And the controversy would be covered by the papers, many of which were controlled by William Randolph Hearst. The papers would largely smear and ravage Arbuckle’s image, while portraying Rappe as an innocent angel. And this wasn’t limited to just America. This also made international headlines, as Arbuckle and his films were also popular in foreign markets.
A former friend and director Arbuckle worked with, Henry Lehrman (who was also former domestic partner of Rappe), would speak out against Arbuckle.
Would I kill Arbuckle? Yes. I feel just as any other man with red blood in his veins. I will not deny that I have said I would kill him if we were to meet. I hope the law will punish him and that he will receive full justice for the crime.
— Merrit, p.118
District Attorney Matthew Brady, the prosecutor on the case, worked with the WVC to rally against Arbuckle, hoping their influence and his association with them, combined with the potential of securing a guilty verdict, would ensure his maintained position as District Attorney when the next election took place.
Religious organizations and preachers would also speak out against Arbuckle.
He has assaulted public decency and morality. He has betrayed the thousands of little children who laughed at his antics. He has defied chastity and mocked virtue.
— Evangelist Robert Shuler [Merrit, p.165]
The only exceptional priest who spoke in Arbuckle’s favor would be the Protestant preacher who spoke out against alcohol, Billy Sunday.
I feel sorry for ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and do not see how any court in the land could convict the fallen idol for murder or manslaughter. […] The girl died, but I believe her death was caused by an accident and not by Roscoe Arbuckle.
Theaters across the nation would pull and ban all Fatty films to avoid controversy.
September 14, 1921, the Los Angeles city council held a meeting to discuss increasing film regulation. Protestant ministers spoke in favor of regulation and censorship. The president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, William Desmond Taylor, would speak out against such regulation. He would make a statement titled “The Nonsense of Censorship.”
Censorship of motion pictures is a menace to the very principles of the Constitution of these United States of America.
November 14, 1921 – December 4, 1921, the first trial of Roscoe Arbuckle takes place, with 5 women and 7 men on the jury. The WVC (the president of the club at the time was Dr. Mariana Bertola) sided heavily with the prosecution. The jury (which had their names and addresses released in the papers) voted 10-2 not guilty. It was a hung jury, where one of the women jurors, Helen Hubbard, became internationally famous as the “lone holdout.” She was too stubborn in her refusal to acknowledge some of the facts of the case. She would make a statement post-trial, referring to her time on the jury:
There is no place for the woman on the jury. […] Any woman is a fool to even get on one if she can possibly get out of serving. I’d rather die than go through it again. The general attitude and language of the men is offensive to a woman.
— [Merrit, p.225]
It is worth noting that at this time, it was still a bit controversial for women to be serving on the jury. This had been legalized in California in 1911, and still remained questionable that women could be considered fair and impartial jurors. During this Arbuckle trial, the Chicago Tribune would state:
It is a fair presumption that the cause of exact justice was injured by the presence of the women on the Arbuckle jury. A woman might have to overcome her aversion for a man charged with immorality before she could get anywhere near the issue of whether he was guilty of manslaughter.
— [Merrit, p.225]
The WVC, of course, praised Hubbard’s stance. Nothing much was said of the other 4 women who voted not-guilty along with the other 6 men.
January 11, 1922, the second trial begins. This time the jury would consist of 11 men and one woman.
It’s not prison I’m afraid of. It’s not the loss of fame or fortune. It is the loss of regard; the loss of affection, the fact that the kids may think I am guilty that hurts me…. Guilty? The law says a man is not guilty until he is proven so. But, my friend, let a man once be arrested and charged with a crime; let his name go broadcast in those first, cruel stories, regardless of fact, and he is branded guilty…. I have suffered.
— Roscoe Arbuckle [Merrit, p.244]
January 14, 1922 – William Hays resigns his cabinet post as the Postmaster General to become the President of the newly formed Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA). His annual salary would be $100,000, an increase from his postmaster general annual salary of $12,000, and even higher than the president of the United State’s $75,000 annual salary. He would stay on as postmaster general until March 4.
February 2, 1922 – The director William Desmond Taylor, the director who spoke out against censorship, is found murdered. The murder, unsolved to this day, unraveled careers of several Hollywood stars and further damaged Hollywood’s reputation. Actresses revealed to be addicted to cocaine, underage girls alleged to have sexual relations with the deceased director, among other various acts of prostitution, drug dealing, and prohibition gangsters. Taylor’s death exposed more than just the incidents he was involved in. It exposed the actions of others within Hollywood.
This would cause the papers to refocus their attention on Hollywood in general, bringing back up accusations of the depravity and danger within Hollywood. This would, in turn, increase calls for film censorship. There would also be a movement among Hollywood critics who would espouse nativism and anti-Semitism, since most of the major studio heads were immigrants, all of whom were Jewish.
The American public is ardent in its hero worship and quite as ruthless in destroying its idols in any walk of life. It elevates a man more quickly than any nation in the world, and casts him down more quickly–quite often on surmise or a mere hunch. It is the general inclination, when trouble happens to strike in film circles, for the thoughtless to whisper, malign and gossip and to speak with that mock sagacity of the times of “the inside dope”[…]
The man and the woman who thus accepts as worthy of esteem this filmland neighbor should do himself or herself the moral honor of refusing to accept tattle and shoulder shrugs in place of fact–as he undoubtedly would in the case of his respected physical neighbor.
–Statement attributed to Arbuckle [Merritt, p.255]
Hollywood wouldn’t be in much of a position to defend itself, since there were other celebrity controversies already brewing, if not already exposed in the papers (such as aforementioned Chaplin marriage and extra-marital affairs controversy, and Olive Thomas’ accidental drug overdose). They needed a sacrificial lamb to keep the mobs at bay. Arbuckle, one of their biggest stars that currently had the biggest spotlight shined on him due to the controversy and the coverage in the papers, would be their prime candidate, regardless of his innocence or guilt.
The pressures of aspirants and fans had caused studios and stars to build walls of privacy against the outside world.
February 3, 1922, the second trial ends, in a 10-2 hung jury vote of guilty, with only the lone woman juror, and another male juror, voting not guilty. The defense was overconfident in this trial.
The public is tired of seeing some morally rotten but highly paid actor or actress glorified and held up as an idol. The public is tired of having sex flung in their faces. People who live decent lives, the mothers and fathers with families that they are trying to raise to be upright and decent, are tired of seeing film after film picturing infidelity and red love. They are tired of seeing the other man as a permanent fixture in the home–according to the movies. They are giving the producers their chance to reform from within. If they don’t, public opinion won’t do any reforming at all. It will simply annihilate the motion picture industry altogether, just as it did the saloon.
— District Attorney Matthew Brady [Merritt, p.278]
March 13, 1922, third trial began. This time, there would be 8 men and 4 women on the jury. April 12, 1922, they would all reach a verdict of not guilty. The 12 jurors would make a statement following the acquittal.
Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel that a great injustice has been done him. We feel also that it was only our plain duty to give him this exoneration, under the evidence, for there was not the slightest proof adduced to connect him in any way with the commission of this crime. […] The happening at the hotel was an unfortunate affair for which Arbuckle, so the evidence shows, was in no way responsible. We wish him success, and hope that the American people will take the judgement of fourteen men and women who have sat listening for thirty-one days to the evidence, that Roscoe Arbuckle is entirely innocent and free from all blame.
Arbuckle would also make a statement.
For this vindication I am truly grateful to God and my fellow men and women. My life has been devoted to the production of clean pictures for the happiness of children. I shall try to enlarge my field of usefulness so that my art shall have a wider service. It is the duty of all men to use the lessons that have been given them by experience and misfortune for the benefit of all–to make themselves more useful to humanity. This I shall do. I can only repay the trust, confidence and loyalty bestowed upon me during my trouble by millions of men and women throughout the world by rendering service in justification of their faith.
Arbuckle was broke after the trials. Thanks to his celebrity habit of reckless spending, his attorney fees, and the fine to be payed for unlawful possession of alcohol, he was in dire need of finances. Finances he hoped to recoup with ease once he got back to working in movies again.
April 18, 1922 – Will Hays forbids Roscoe Arbuckle from ever working in Hollywood again. However, it would not be Hays who acted alone on this. According to Hays’ memoirs, Joseph Schenck and Adolph Zukor came to him after the third Arbuckle trial and demanded Hays and the MPPDA be the ones to publicly blacklist Arbuckle, while keeping their names (and thus Paramount Pictures) from being associated with the blacklisting. In turn, it would give credit to the MPPDA for coming out swinging, getting Hollywood to clean up its act, an act publicized (and at times blown out of proportion) by the papers, and the Protestants, among other organizations. Arbuckle’s films continued to be banned across the country (as they had been since prior to the first trial).
“Fatty” Arbuckle was a movie “goat.” While he escaped conviction in court he was crucified by public sentiment which demanded that somebody be made to pay for the loose lives of too many of the movie stars. It was just Arbuckle;s misfortune that the choice fell upon him. It might have been anyone of a number of others no better than he. A little more than usual vulgarity and an accident directed selection of Arbuckle. So he is paying for it all.
–Editorial in a Wisconsin newspaper, November 22, 1922 [Merritt, p.289]
Senator Henry Lee Miles would denounce Arbuckle while on the floor of the US Senate, and further state:
At Hollywood, California, is a colony of these people, where debauchery, riotous living, drunkenness, ribaldry, dissipation, free love, seem to be conspicuous.
The California Congress of Women and Parents supported the banning of his films, as did the San Francisco Federation of Women’s Clubs. The general public, with the aided influence of women’s and religious organizations, plus gossip articles in the papers, was still generally against Arbuckle and in support of keeping his films suppressed. In addition, the public grew even more curious as to the (secret) lives of Hollywood and the celebrities they (once) admired.
After the Laughter Dies
May 1922 – The Sins of Hollywood: An Expose of Movie Vice is published by an anonymous author, later identified as Ed Roberts (former editor at Photoplay).
To the boys and girls of the land these mock heroes and heroines have been pictured and painted, for box office purposes, as the living symbols of all the virtues–
An avalanche of propaganda by screen and press has imbued them with every ennobling trait.
Privately they have lived, and are still living, lives of wild debauchery.
Unfaithful and cruelly indifferent to the worship of the youth of the land, they have led or are leading such lives as may, any day, precipitate yet another nation-wide scandal and again shatter the ideals, the dreams, the castles, the faith of our boys and girls!
It is for these reasons that the SINS OF HOLLYWOOD are given to the public–
That a great medium of national expression may be purified–taken from the hands of those who have misused it–that the childish faith of our boys and girls may again be made sacred!
If the screen is to be “cleaned up,” the sores must be cut open–the puss and corruption removed–This always hurts! But it is the only known way!
During the 1920s, several women would become major Hollywood stars. Colleen Moore’s fame would arrive in the early 1920s, being known as one of the first flapper girls (meaning a 1920s woman who showed disdain for conventional dress and behavior). Then there was Clara Bow, who would become the first natural sex symbol (and would be known within Hollywood to freely sleep around with several men).
Many of these stars, however, would not have a good end to their stardom.
May 27, 1922 – Actress Audrey Munson attempts suicide in Mexico, New York, by attempting to swallow a solution of bi-chloride, the same substance that killed Olive Thomas. Unlike Thomas, she would survive the attempt, but became mentally unstable, and would spent the next 65 years in a mental institute until the day she died.
December 20, 1922, Hays released a statement referring to Roscoe Arbuckle:
In our effort to develop a complete co-operation and confidence within the industry, I hope we can start this New Year with no yesterdays. “Live and let live” is not enough; we will try to live and help live.
While this was taken to mean it was ok for studios to screen “Fatty” films again, and employ Arbuckle, it was later revealed in Hays’ memoirs that Hays didn’t intend for Arbuckle to work in movies again so much as be given the opportunity for employment elsewhere, so that he could at least make a living; in the spirit of fair-play and charity. Ultimately, the statement ended up ringing hollow in the industry and with the public. Women’s and various Motion Picture organizations, religious groups, and teachers groups, all still demanded Arbuckle films not be shown.
Arbuckle would release a statement, asking for “the rights of an American citizen,” to be treated fairly and not be unjustly/maliciously be attacked by others who are “refusing to abide by the established law of the land.” He would even quote scripture, and reference Jesus and his acts of forgiveness. His statement proved futile in improving his position. Even theater producers offered Paramount sums of money in order to purchase Arbuckle films that hadn’t been exhibited. Paramount would refuse. Arbuckle’s career was virtually finished.
Thus, as author Greg Merrit states, “It was America’s first great battle in a culture war.”
January 1922 – Actor Wallace Reid’s morphine addiction eventually spiraled out of control. He would eventually be admitted to a sanitarium after a mental breakdown. Will Hays would visit him at the sanitarium December 19, 1922, and would later proclaim that despite his state, Wallace was recovering. Wallace would later die in the sanitarium on January 18, 1923, a fate similar to the one Audrey Munson would face. His widow produced a movie about the dangers of morphine addiction called Human Wreckage (1923) which toured the country. The film is lost, unable to be viewed today.
The board of motion picture censors of Portland [Oregon] today ordered the arrest of Andrew Saso, manager of a theater, on the ground that he had shown a motion-picture featuring Roscoe (Fatty) Arbuckle. Films featuring Arbuckle have been banned by city ordinance since October 15, 1924.
— Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1932 [Merrit, p.359]
March 3, 1931, The Star Spangled Banner is made the national anthem via congressional resolution, signed by president Herbert Hoover.
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
June 29, 1933, Roscoe Arbuckle, who was on the verge of a potential acting come-back, dies in his sleep of a heart attack. Some papers would declare that he literally died of a broken heart.
Here is the sad spectacle of a man being punished by so-called democracy! A man who was acquitted of a trumped-up charge by three American juries! But our militant good people arose to crucify, to persecute an innocent man! They dragged him down from the topmost pinnacle of being the clean and funny comedian that he was and made of him the world’s most tragic figure!
— Rupert Hughes, making a speech towards Roscoe Arbuckle at a 1925 Hollywood banquet [Merrit, p.307]
Regarding Virginia Rappe, and whether or not Arbuckle actually caused her death by raping her, it seems unlikely. There really isn’t any evidence that indicates he did rape her. At worst, he might have had consensual sex with her, but even that is a bit far-fetched, at least from what I’ve concluded from my research. As to what caused Rappe’s health deterioration during and after the party, there are a number of things that could’ve contributed. One, years of alcohol consumption weakening her bladder. Two, the fact that she has had at least two abortions in the past (part of that whole Hollywood mandate thing that began roughly in the 20s), and one abortion could’ve caused a small tear to her bladder that grew overtime. Plus the doctors did anything but treat her symptoms correctly for at least the first two days after they were shown.
In any case, there is at the very least a reasonable doubt as to Arbuckle’s guilt. Sure he led the celebrity lifestyle, become a higher class than most American workers, and spent in excess for mansions, vehicles, booze, parties, etc (as many top-paid celebrities back then did, and still do today). But that doesn’t excuse the wrongful condemnation by women’s rights organizations anyway (among others). And the parallel’s to today’s #MeToo movement are uncanny.
It only seems ironically fitting what events would take place just before Arbuckle’s death.
July 13, 1923 – The Hollywoodland sign is erected.
September 18, 1932, Millicent Lilian ‘Peg’ Entwhistle, known for being a stage actress, was on a downward spiral career-wise. She would hike to the Hollywoodland sign, climb a ladder on the “H,” and threw herself down the mountain. Her suicide note would read, “I am afraid, I am a coward. I am sorry for everything. If I had done this a long time ago, it would have saved a lot of pain.” Soon after, the one and only film she ever appeared in, Thirteen Women, would premiere November 11. It would be neither a critical or commercial success. When it was re-released in 1935 during the Hays Code era, 14 minutes would be cut from the film.
All of [the scandals] made the media, and of course America, question: What is Hollywood like? We go to see the product that they make every week. And they’re feeding us ideas and images. But how do they live? Are they not living by the same standards, the same moral values by which we live?
— Mark Viera
If the law is wrong, it ought to be changed; but the power for that is not with us.
–Chief Justice Morrison Waite of the United States Supreme Court; Virginia Minor v. Reese Happersett (1874); case in which the Court ruled that the Constitution did not grant anyone, specifically a female citizen, the right to vote even when a state law granted those rights to certain citizen classes.
In order to promote reform, it is first necessary to show the wages of sin.
Nearly every man who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.
The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.
— Thomas Edison
Carrie Nation, a radical feminist and member of the temperance movement (against alcohol before prohibition), went about busting up saloons in 1900 for a few months in protest of alcohol; she usually did this wielding a hatchet. A year later, Edison would capitalize on her popularity with the film Kansas Saloon Smashers. It’s only inevitable that films would cover topical subjects outside of boxing. Carrie Nation would later die in 1911, with her last words being, “I have done what I could.” In 1919, her dreams of national prohibition would be realized. One year later, women would be given the right to vote.
But political fear is more than an individual experience, and it affects more than personal lives. The morals contributing to it descend from tradition and popular belief, and the rational calculus underlying it reflects the realities of social and political power. Whether by design or consequence—for sometimes the outcome is intended, other times not—political fear reinforces a society’s distribution of power and resources, influences public debate, and compels public policy.
— Corey Robin
In 1894, one of the first films ever was censored by the mayor of Newark, New Jersey. The films is titled Carmencita. It was censored because, during the dance, the woman’s underwear is (briefly) visible. But this was a minor act of censorship compared to what would happen three years later.
1. To go back over the course by which one has come.
2. To return to a previous point or subject.
3. To reverse one’s position or policy.
— The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
This is one of those films not many know about, and if they do know about it they’re probably only aware of the theatrical cut. Upon my first viewing, that’s the version I saw. Sometimes the film goes by the alternative title Catch Fire, other times it goes by the intended title Backtrack. Either way, it’s most likely the theatrical cut (TC). The Director’s Cut (DC), on the other hand, can be found and can be viewed. But as far as I can tell, it’s only available on VHS. It has never gotten a DVD release, let alone a Blu-Ray release. So I had to settle for lesser video quality, which is a shame because it becomes impossible to make out some text that, while not mandatory to see, would certainly improve the viewing experience. Also hurts that it’s not available in widescreen unless it’s the TC version.
To make a long story short, the DC is far superior to the TC. This is a criminally underrated film, underrated because of the ravished treatment it got by studio interference which made it more shallow than intended (to the point where Dennis Hopper demanded his name be removed from it as director). Also underrated because it is misunderstood, primarily because of the TC treatment, also because few have seen the DC version, and because those who do watch it tend to view it more as a guilty pleasure than anything else (though I will admit, that’s how I initially viewed it until giving it a closer look).
Director’s Cut Review
This film is a cry for something different. A film that is aware of how stale films in general have gotten, which is something more relevant today than back when this was made. Granted I’m only speaking from my current experience, but I do recall there being plenty of 70s and 80s films that generally had bleak endings and/or formulaic plots and atmosphere/progression that seem to come straight out of an assembly line; the independent film wave of the 90s. had yet to hit, but it was just around the corner after this film’s release. The statement is made early on with one of the LED art signs which states:
I AM CRAZY BORED AND FAMILIAR WITH THE ENDING
And another sign which states:
I WALK IN AND OUT OF THE CRACKS OF MY SKULL WHEN THERE IS NOTHING
Blatant, literal, with very little wiggle room for interpretation. This is the art style of one of our main protagonists Anne Benton (played by Jodie Foster). She specializes in LED light art for politics, personal relationships, cliches, and for statements on the excessives of average people. LED lights appeal to her because they are familiar, they are everywhere, and people are drawn to them. Normally they are used for advertisements, for shallow consumption; but she aims to use them for artistic merit.
But in so making her art so literal, the abstract is sacrificed (to the point where other artists, including one played by Bob Dylan, look down on it). While her art is easy to understand, her wants/needs/desires are not. She isn’t truly happy, and she subconsciously wants something different, but she can’t figure this out for herself because she is so literal.
Opposite of Anne is Milo (played by Dennis Hopper), a hitman for the mafia who also has a taste for the abstract art. His hobby, when he’s not collecting art, is playing the saxophone. He knows what he likes, he knows what he desires, but he has difficulty in expressing it clearly. Thus he plays the sax very poorly, but becomes drawn to Anne’s art style because she can express things so clearly.
The film becomes a sort of “opposite’s attract” love story, with a dose of Stockholm syndrome thrown in for good measure. The plot is about artist Anne witnessing a mob murder, then being chased by the mob, the police, and the mob hitman Milo. Milo eventually tracks her down, but decides to keep her as his own rather than kill her. Over time, they both fall in love with each other, and attempt to flee the mob and the police together. There are a few ways to interpret this, one of which is the happy union of the literal and the abstract. Of having art daring to try something different, something many may find controversial. Of having two art forms together that shouldn’t be together, that just don’t match up. But the thing about art is that it is subjective. Some will enjoy various forms more than others. And sometimes the strangest combinations can work. In the case of the film, the idea that Stockholm syndrome can work; in that regard, I state that this film was ahead of it’s time before Beauty and the Beast made that shit popular. And come on, not everything can turn out like The Collector (1965).
There is also a reference to D.H. Lawrence in this film, which is ironic not because he expressed similar themes about relationships in his works, but also because his works were also subject to censorship and misrepresentation. It’s as if the controversy surrounding this film only helps to make its point, though it would be nice if the DC was around in some modern streaming service or on DVD/Blu-Ray so others to appreciate it.
“Passion’s a hard thing to conceal.”
Let’s get back on track here (heheh). Anne’s LED signs have an affect on Milo. Signs with messages such as:
LACK OF CHARISMA CAN BE FATAL
EVEN YOUR FAMILY CAN BETRAY YOU
MEET DREAMS YOU CAN’T RESIST
CALM IS MORE CONDUCTIVE TO CREATIVITY THAN IS ANXIETY
PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT
The art inspires him, makes him want to change his life. But being a hitman who has difficulty in expressing himself, that’s kind of difficult to do (obviously). And on top of that, he becomes self-aware at how much he sucks (or more appropriately, blows) at playing the sax. So he opts for kidnapping her, after being influenced to do so in a manner she mentions in an audio recording he gets a hold of, where she says:
“I don’t know if I can be with people I don’t know, if I’m fit for it anymore. I’m cut off and I’m losing my connection. I do have this fantasy. There’s a man in the dark. I can see his face. He’s got a scarf around my neck and I know I’m gonna die. And nothing else makes any difference. I realize now that I’m selfish and I’ve always been selfish, and that’s fine. […] This time I actually believe I’m safe. No one knows where I am, and eventually this will all be forgotten, and I’ll be forgotten too.”
So when he comes to kidnap her, he does so in the method she envisions. He handcuffs her and wraps a scarf around her neck. He then gives her the choice of being killed by him, or by living, but belonging to him. She takes the second choice. Thus Milo is fulfilling a desire within her, while also fulfilling his own desire. Yet she is against this at first (understandably), and does not warm up to Milo at all for a long period of time.
But as the film progresses from there, she eventually begins to accept her internal desires, and begins to accept Milo. The literal and the abstract begin to intermix, and both become more accepting of each other’s views; though they get in an argument over the validity of the way each view art, and how meaningful their lives are whether together or as individuals; it is more-or-less reconciled soon after, as if the film doesn’t really give a shit about that typical moment in romance films where the inevitable temporal break-up happens before the inevitable reconciliation. The film is attempting to be different after all, and could be said to be somewhat satirizing other films of that type of genre.
Which brings me to the other meaning to be had outside of abstract vs. literal art styles. As stated earlier, it is a film that cries out to be different because it’s bored with the average Hollywood fluff that comes out regularly. So the film itself opts to be different, not just with the progression of the plot and subject matter (Stockholm syndrome works), but also changing genres at various intervals. It goes from being a thriller, to a slow-burn character study, to a teen romance (I’ll expand on that in a moment), to an action shoot-em-up, and having a happy ending in spite of the odds and how it seems to go against what had been built up during the first half (at least on an initial watch; it does fit together when looking at it from a critical stand-point, barring leaps in logic). It attempts to make it so that either it gives you an ending you don’t expect, or an ending you’re not bored with even if it is expected.
Which brings me to the overall theme of the film, relating to the title Backtrack. In one sense, it’s about backtracking to what made us enjoy films in the first place at an earlier age at an earlier time. Particularly that of the 70s, and anything pre-Hay’s Code mid-1930s, and in the modern context, much of what has come since 2012 (personally, I think films have largely lost there edge at some point between 2006-2012, depending on how strict you are about film quality and allowing studios/directors to take chances with respectable budgets). Just let the film-makers run wild and do what they want how they want, and come what may. A cry for freedom, for independent film-making. While the film’s cries may not have been heard, given that it bombed in theaters and was re-edited to make the theme convoluted, if not entirely absent, they were cries shared by others which lead to the indie film movement of the 90s.
The alternative way to look at the term backtrack is with how the characters go from being mature to immature during the 2nd act, primarily during the 2nd sexual encounter between Milo and Anne. They go from being mature adults, who have been conditioned to lock away all childish thoughts and impulses over the years, to regressing back into a child-like state. It’s like how college kids (or even teenage kids) who are in one of their first relationships would interact. How they laugh and giggle, and how they become more care-free about the world (even though the dangers of reality creep in off and on with the mafia goons catching up to them). They even bicker like teenagers at one or two points. The backtrack refers to going back from adulthood to childhood. Because children are more easily pleased, more easily entertained, than adults. They possess something that is missing from adults which can make them more closed off and isolated. They don’t have those walls built around them which are slowly but surely built as they age, especially in schools. It’s something that was preached in Pink Floyd’s The Wall. To backtrack is to tear it down. Embrace what allowed you to embrace the joys found in childhood. It is what can allow you to not be alone, to not become isolated. But this doesn’t work if it’s one-sided. Others can only be as accepting if they are just as free of this thought-control. In order for that to happen, the current life must die in order for the new life to arise, like a phoenix. The film represents this with the native american ceremony, the burning of the pilgrim, who represents people in general.
And when you think about it, don’t we all have our own innate desires that may be considered abnormal, or even taboo? Some women want to be dominated by a macho man who can take charge. Some men want to have a woman in a slave-like role. Many want to have someone who can change their life for the better, even if it is done in extreme manners that usually only work out well in your head. Some things that teenagers daydream about. And in the end, all children enjoy seeing a happy ending.
It is a way of life Anne didn’t consciously realize she wanted. She finds a piece of pottery under the dirt at this theater house in New Mexico, something she doesn’t understand yet, something she wasn’t actively looking for. Then later on in the movie, she finds a matching set of pottery in an entirely different location (this may have implications within the literal context of the film, but I’m not sure myself). Thus she realizes she has found something she didn’t even know she was looking for, which is fixing something she didn’t realize was broken.
One last thing before ending the analysis. There comes a point in this movie where Jodie Foster’s character finds and cares for a lamb. I shit you not. And this came before she did the film Silence of the Lambs. Good God, how can one not watch this portion of the movie without making jokes or puns? But anyway, the film makes some symbolism of this by showing a statue of some woman with a lamb at the mob boss’ house, the mob boss being Vincent Price (someone make a Vincent Price as Hannibal Lector meme please, I’m begging ya’).
Issues With The Movie
Now as great as this all sounds, the film isn’t without its issues (putting aside TC and DC differences). The helicopter action scene is mediocre at best. There’s a moment where Milo leaves his sax behind before driving away from the cabin to run from the mafia, yet he has the sax back during the end credits (maybe he bought a new one). Dennis Hopper may not have been the best choice to play Milo; he’s not terrible, but he seems a little too off and awkward even for his character. And the ending is a bit far-fetched, but one could argue the reason those mob bosses put themselves in such a vulnerable state is because Vincent Price basically wanted them all to do, along with Milo, and coerced them into confronting Milo on their own. This isn’t explicitly stated at all, but one could reach that conclusion with the dirty cop twist. Still, would’ve been nice to have seen that conversation.
Some argue that the film falls apart and becomes stupid during the second half without how the dialogue and character interaction get, but I chalk that up to the whole Backtrack theme. Of course the dialogue becomes more childish and less intelligent. They’re backtracking! As to whether that will be to your tastes, that’s up to you.
TC vs. DC
The music is different and far worse in the TC. Both versions contain scenes that aren’t in the other, though the DC is the overall lengthier film. Ultimately, the TC tries to make the film out to be some off-kilter action/thriller/romance flick, but it comes off as more awkward than the DC intended, and that’s saying a lot. At first it sets up the feel that Anne isn’t in to Milo at all, to the point where he rapes her during their first encounter, that she berates him (as opposed to just messing with him in a lighthearted manner) during the second encounter. Then next thing you know, she’s laughing with him and enjoying herself with him. It comes out of the blue as opposed to the more gradual development seen in the DC. Granted, it’s still a strange thing to see, the whole Stockholm thing working out, but at least the DC makes a better effort at it. And they make it seem like Milo is an expert sax player in the TC, which contradicts that abstract-literal art theme which the TC pretty much tosses aside. Lastly, they downplay (if not altogether remove) any hint that the movie is attempting to subvert expectations, to be a satire of mainstream film, or at the very least something that attempts to do something different just for the sake of doing something different, making that one of the main messages. It does so by removing some of the LED light art which spells this out for the viewer.
Take a look at how this scene differs greatly between the TC and DC versions of the film. It’s amazing how much a difference in editing/pacing/music can change a scene.
Highly recommended movie, so long as it’s the DC version you’re watching. It’s different and fun. It’s something wants to be taken seriously, and yet doesn’t want to take things so seriously. It’s an intentional fun contradiction. A film made by an adult for adults who want to release a bit of their inner-child, while Joe Pesci is screaming fuck fucker motherfucker and motherfucking every other second he’s on the screen. Plus you get to see Jodie Foster naked, which is incredible because I didn’t think that was possible.
PS: It is worth mentioning that the character Anne Benton is inspired off the real-life artist Jenny Holzer, who has been doing similar art styles since the 70s, and is still around today doing her own kind of art as far as I know. Even the line, PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT is something that made her famous. Seems as if she had an admirer in Dennis Hopper.
PPS: Jodie Foster probably did Silence of the Lambs after this just to spite the film, because she didn’t enjoy working on it.
I’ve never had an iTunes, Spotify, MailChimp, Stitcher, or Pinterest account, so that’s no bother for me to ignore them from now on. Facebook, I’ve just deleted my account which I’ve had deactivated (by myself intentionally, Facebook didn’t deactivate my account against my will) over the past several months. Fuck them, and fuck Zuckerberg.
YouTube, well, I’m not going to go so far as to stop using that platform altogether. After all, there are plenty of users using that platform who are just as outraged over this Orwellian tactic of censorship as I am, and are making videos expressing their frustration, and I’d hate to stop supporting them. So I’ll stick with YouTube, for now, but I’ve got an account up on BitChute just in case, and Vimeo, and DailyMotion.
LinkedIn, you’re fired. You’ve never helped me get a job anyway (I’ve done just fine without you), and you’re Google owned anyway.
And for a bonus mention, there’s also a website called YouPorn that has also banned InfoWars. I’m not going to bother questioning why their content would be on that site, though I find it amusing to imagine the scenarios. But one thing is for sure, there’s plenty of other websites to jack off to, including my own.
I don’t condone the banning and censoring of a platform just because one disagrees with their news and opinions. They say it’s because they promote hate speech; to that I say take a good look at 30% of all the other people that utilize your services, and see how much of a cocksucking hypocrite you really are. What they really mean is, “We are banning these people because their politics don’t agree with ours, and their news articles aren’t biased in the way we want them to be biased.”
So I’m going to retaliate. I’m going to download the InfoWars app just out of spite. I’m going to visit their website more often (some of their news articles aren’t half bad; Alex Jones isn’t the only guy doing things there, he can be avoided if he’s too much for you). And I’m going to go about transitioning from Gmail to other mail services. Maybe ProtonMail, or Zoho, or something. And I sure as shit ain’t giving any of the websites who banned InfoWars a penny of my money. Because they’re not just going to stop with InfoWars if they see they can get away with it, especially just a few months from a midterm election. They want to see if they can get away with this and censor others, like what Youtube and Facebook and Twitter have been doing in the past, only on a smaller scale. They’re already trying to do something similar to Fox News, among others. They want to ban/censor all conservative sites, and all conservative speakers. They’ve raised the stakes. I say many others should do likewise against them.
PS: Goddamnit! I fucking hate it when it comes to shit like this. I didn’t want this! I didn’t want to live in a time where censorship gets so extreme it starts affecting politics and elections! I didn’t want to get into a position where I’m defending InfoWars and fucking Alex Jones! It’s forcing me to get more political than I am now. And it’s also encouraging me to use the Brave web browser as opposed to Chrome or Firefox. This is bullshit!
And it turns out these assholes are just proving the point of that film Death of a Nation. August 4, 2018, the pro-Trump rally in Portland, Oregon gets attacked by ANTIFA thugs, and results in at least one person getting his skull cracked open and pouring out blood (he lived). You know, like the black shirts in Pre-WWII Italy did to other peaceful protesters and assemblies.
And on top of that, YouTuber Jeremy Hambly (of the channel The Quartering) gets attacked by an SJW at GenCon, allegedly by a guy who wears a “Punch Nazis” T-Shirt. At GenCon.At a boardgaming convention. In my type of atmosphere, my type of hobby. It’s not just limited to filmgoers and film critics, now we have board gamers to worry about. The worst part is that this SJW thug is supposedly one of the people running a booth at GenCon, and owns a shop. A police report is filed, Jeremy followed the proper procedures for GenCon in terms of reporting unacceptable activity such as harassment and violence (let alone assault), and GenCon officials do nothing. The police so far do nothing. Rather, GenCon would rather ban users from their Twitter feed who bring up the topic (90+ users last I checked), and YouTube would rather take down the video where Jeremy brought up the incident on his channel. Thugs physically attacking people for their political beliefs, authorities not doing much to dissuade them, and media outlets covering it up as much as possible. Tell me that’s not similar to the shit being brought up in this film? Tell me this isn’t something that will lead us down to either a civil war, or the rise of a socialist dictatorship?
YouTube may have taken down the video [EDIT: not the case, see below], but that’s why alternatives such as BitChute exist. And long story short, if you want to keep video evidence of something to support your arguments that you’ve found on YouTube, download it yourself. Otherwise, it’s nice to have alternatives. Try supporting BitChute just for the sake of having a platform alternative. Though that being said, it’s based in the U.K., so it’s questionable if even this will last considering all that’s been going on down there. Also, feel free to support Jeremy in his lawsuit:
Edit (8-6-2018): Ok, so I read through The Quartering’s tweets, and it turns out he made those YouTube videos “private” for now in an attempt to prevent the situation from escalating until the legal endeavor is over. YouTube didn’t take those videos down. That being said, I still support BitChute because there were (multiple) times in the past where YouTube did in fact block videos or have them removed (sometimes an entire channel, like the recent InfoWars), while BitChute has remained reliable (even if their “streams” aren’t always stable).