Hollywood likes to think it knows us. It tells us what we like. It tells how and what to think. It decides what we are ready to accept. It protects us from "evil." Never is this more evident than in the 1951 Hollywood version of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Tennessee Williams wrote the original Streetcar, a tale of a cracked southern belle, in 1947. The belle is the ever-so-frail Blanche DuBois. Blanche loses the family plantation and runs to her sister's (Stella) arms. Stella lives with her abusive husband, Stanley, in New Orleans. It is here that Blanche's torturous past and Stanley's blue collar present collide, resulting in Blanche's being committed. We learn how Blanche's husband had committed suicide after being caught in a homosexual affair. We see Stanley rape Blanche. We are immersed in these horrid souls' reality. Tennessee Williams is our tour guide of a bleak reality.
I guess the movie makers did not think this reality could sell enough tickets. The 1951 film version of Streetcar, directed by Elia Kazan, leaves out some important details. There is no mention of Blanche's (Vivien Leigh) homosexual husband. Homosexuality is too disturbing for us to see or even hear about, even though it adds considerably to the story. In the film her husband shoots himself for apparently no reason. Instead of adding to Blanche's deeply troubled past, her husband's suicide only seems confusing. Marlon Brando's Stanley is also cheated in the film. His moment of triumph over Blanche is cut. We, the viewers of the United States, were just not ready to see a real rape scene. An hour and a half of Stanley's physical and verbal abuse of his wife Stella (Kim Hunter) is fine. It is ok for us to see that. There is nothing wrong with watching a man abuse his wife. It is not right to abuse someone, but it is not wrong to watch it. Sex is just wrong. That seems to be the message we are being sent.
In 2002, the film industry is far more liberal with sex, but the film moguls still control what we are ready to see. If a movie is being made about a terrorist plot, you can bet they will try to change it. If a plane is hijacked, you can forget about it. I would like to thank Hollywood for protecting me from all of these ideas. I do not know what I would do with out them. I guess I would have to think for myself.