Progressive educators have had another of their ambiguous brainstorms and are advocating courses in the appreciation of movies in the public schools. The pupils, it seems, will go to certain selected pictures in company with their teachers. They will then discuss them in class, when particular characters will be pointed out to them as highly virtuous, whereupon they will collectively admire these characters. The result, according to the pedagogues, will be greatly to heighten the taste of the future movie public.
The whole process has about it an air of unconscious irony, faintly reminiscent of the educational methods pictured in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World." For it is not hard to guess what type of picture the teachers will choose for their tender-minded young charges: it is almost certain to be "educational" and "uplifting," and its capacity to amuse is likely to run in indirect ratio to its capacity for moral elevation. The students will go to the selected shows because they are forced to, and they will take part in the classroom discussions as perfunctorily as they swallow the rest of the dubious instruction daily forced down their unwilling throats, but when left to themselves they are sure to attend movies containing a plentiful supply of gangsters, gin, illicit love, and shots of Miss Ginger Rogers disrobing. Even should some enterprising teacher take her pupils to a genuinely amusing cinema, the task of discussing it would undoubtedly provide some embarrassing problems. Consider, for example, a class of tenth or ninth graders toying with the moral implications of "Reunion in Vienna."
In short, when the child doctors develop more than their usual discrimination between such samples of real life as are set before them, they will end by spilling the sugar coating on the wrong pill. It is possible, to be sure, that the sugaring may be abandoned, and criticism of the cinema as art, good or bad, heartily compounded. Only this would be the proper purge for Hollywood greensickness. But the hope is quixotic; the educators' idea will probably have two very different outcomes. First, vast sums will be squandered on equipment which will enable the schools to show their own pictures. Second, a certain number of children are bound to be converted by the moral maunderings of their instructors into a slightly above normal crop of prudes and prigs.