Thursday, November 27, 2008

Perversion For Profit

Perversion for Profit is a 1965 propaganda film financed by Charles Keating and narrated by George Putnam. A vehement diatribe against pornography, the film attempts to link explicit portrayals of human sexuality to the subversion of American civilization, and briefly draws a parallel between pornography and the Communist conspiracy. The film is in the public domain, and it has become a popular download from the Prelinger Archives. Perversion for Profit illustrates its claims with still images taken from various soft core pornography magazines of the period, though with some portions of human anatomy obscured by colored rectangles.

To bolster his position, Putnam makes several references 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 an article discussing the Prelinger Archives for the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter L. Stein observes that the film has gained a different sort of utility than its producers intended: 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.

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