Ode to Joy

On this week’s season (and possibly series) finale of Franklin & Bash, the eccentric lawyer played by Malcolm McDowell opened his voice-activated safe by humming the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. That was the theme song of Alex in A Clockwork Orange. Who was played in the film by Malcolm McDowell.

The graphic and stylized violence of A Clockwork Orange was extremely controversial in 1971; it is still disturbing today. After the film was blamed for several rapes, director Stanley Kubrick had it withdrawn from distribution in the UK, a ban that stayed in place until his death.

Anthony Burgess, who wrote the novel the film was based on, told Rolling Stone banning a single film was not nearly enough.  He believed all art should be banned:

All works of art are dangerous. My little son tried to fly after seeing Disney’s Peter Pan. I grabbed his legs just as he was about to take off from a fourth story window. A man in New York State sacrificed 67 infants to the God of Jacob; he just loved the Old Testament. A boy in Oklahoma stabbed his mother’s second husband after seeingHamlet. A man in Kansas City copulated with his wife after reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover. After seeing A Clockwork Orange, a lot of boys will take up rape and pillage and even murder—The point is, I suppose, that human beings are good and innocent before they come into contact with works of art. Therefore all art should he banned. Hitler would never have dreamed of world conquest if he hadn’t read Nietzsche in the Reader’s Digest. The excesses of Robespierre stemmed from reading Rousseau. Even music is dangerous. The works of Delius have led more than one adolescent to suicide. Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde used to promote crafty masturbation in the opera house. And look what Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony does to Alex in A Clockwork Orange. If I were President of the United States, I should at once enact a total prohibition of films, plays, books and music. My book intended to be a delicious dream, not a nightmare of terror, beauty and concupiscence. Burn films—they make marvellous bonfires. Burn books. Burn this issue of ROLLING STONE.”

Oh, wait, I think this modest proposal may be a swift bit of satire.


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