Fallen Flappers & the Male Gaze: Verbal Hallucinations & Lapp

“No picture shall be produced which will lower the moral standards of those who see it.” – The Production Code – 1929

Introducing our uncensored flicker through the forgotten floor of the 1920’s cutting room… Lapp

The ‘fallen flappers’ in our latest music video were once deemed too shocking to be shown to the public. As the central theme of our song Lapp is the male gaze and its destructive nature, we have resurrected some of the many forgotten moments commissioned by men, filmed by men and whose censorship by men illuminate a highly salient and contradictory era of sexual tension in 20th Century history.

When moving pictures first emerged at the turn of the century, they presented viewers with a flickering new form of entertainment. Even without sound, the mass appeal of these early movies and their portrayal of sex and violence managed to draw fire from America’s moral guardians. In the 1930s, film industry executives embraced a strict set of guidelines, or Production Code, that governed movie content for two decades.

Despite early admonitions, the motion picture industry flourished, and by the 1920s, forty million Americans from all walks of life went to the packed moviehouses each week. Moviemakers, wanting to attract young people, made films that were a reflection of their times — it was the age of flappers doing the Charleston, honky-tonks playing the new sounds of jazz, and gangsters running numbers and selling liquor during Prohibition. Hollywood’s new movie moguls were getting rich without any concern for freedom of expression or censorship.

It was a rash of Hollywood scandals in the late teens and the early twenties that helped intensify the ire of local censors and forced the film industry leaders to address the industry’s image problems. In 1921, comedian Fatty Arbuckle was accused of the rape and murder of a young actress; director William Desmond Taylor was found murdered; actor Wallace Reid died of a drug overdose; and America’s sweetheart, actress Mary Pickford, obtained a quickie divorce to marry dashing matinee idol, Douglas Fairbanks. Studio heads hired a public relations man, Will Hays, to bolster the industry’s tainted reputation by convincing the nation that Hollywood was not all scandalous and that the movie industry would censor itself.

But Hays was merely a spokesperson. Since he had very little power to change the content of films, the criticism escalated, exploding into a national crisis when sound technology gave the movies a voice. In the late 1920s, state censorship boards were working overtime to keep up with the “talkies.” These talking pictures incensed religious leaders concerned about America’s youth. “Silent smut had been bad, vocal smut cried to the censors for vengeance,” wrote Father Daniel Lord, an influential Jesuit teacher in the twenties. Catholic religious leaders especially turned up the heat on Hollywood, calling for strict moral standards and a Code of conduct for movie content based on the premise that “no picture shall be produced which will lower the moral standards of those who see it.”

The Production Code spelled out specific restrictions on language and behavior, particularly sex and crime — two sure-fire box office draws. It prohibited nudity, suggestive dances, and the ridicule of religion. It forbade the depiction of illegal drug use, venereal disease, childbirth, and miscegenation. The language section banned dozens of “offensive” words and phrases. Criminal activity could not be presented in a way that led viewers to sympathize with criminals. Murder scenes had to avoid inspiring imitation, and brutal killings could not be shown in detail. The sanctity of the marriage and the home had to be upheld. Adultery and illicit sex, although recognized as sometimes necessary to the plot, could not be explicit or justified and were not supposed to be presented as an attractive option.

Lyrics

Lapp eyes

Adorn me with lap eyes

You cannot but refuse to infuse desires shaft of might

Such perspicacities become the absence smelt at night

Lapp eyes

You floor me with lap eyes

A scent of what’s between her webs and that which lured the bate

Can synaesthesia forewarn when sense evaporates

You cannot customise the matter shaped by cell-bound cries

So stroke such memories with symmetries that shrunk your life

Lapp eyes

They usher my demise

A gentle tryst inside to satisfy your weakest vice

And yet each brick was laid to resonate and score your strife

Lapp eyes

I teeter on the edge beneath her rhythmic thighs

Just a lick

hold a bit

Doesn’t fit

Queue spit

Or let it rip

Now double quick

And hold on tight

Skin that aches

for sinful grace

And what a mess

she makes

Lapp obsessive taste

Your breath suggests

A tenderness

beyond harness

a deep caress

such underhandedness

Juxtapositions flux behind

Such propositions threw your grind

Mr auteur DeMille

Slide your lens until

My silver scream is shrill

Wrap, recap then refill

Haute couture’s the cure

When allures drab demure

Takes an impromptu detour

Rough ride a Hansome cab

Vociferous cries try to end, then

Your vigorousness decries your intentions

Your doll like eyes

They try to

Sensationalize

My Nobel Size

Apprised

Your lap gaze, amazed, red-eyes

You shot a scene

That’s most obscene

Your coin slot

Squat routine

Feeding with no cuisine

How’d you please a crowd

when your life’s been endowed

with an avowed shame cloud

Float boats for damp bank notes

Blow it up, life size

Blow it up, life size

Well, go figure, there’s a mine below

That feeds the gentry with a dazzling glow

The hands that bled to make them sparkling

must pay to see them glisten on my skin

I’m ready for my close-up

I’m ready for my close-up

I’m ready for my close-up

Mr DeMille

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