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In the 1930s, anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, artists Miguel Covarrubias and Walter Spies, and musicologist Colin McPhee all spent time here. Their accounts of the island and its peoples created a western image of Bali as "an enchanted land of aesthetes at peace with themselves and nature". Western tourists began to visit the island. The sensuous image of Bali was enhanced in the West by a quasi-pornographic 1932 documentary Virgins of Bali about a day in the lives of two teenage Balinese girls whom the film's narrator Deane Dickason notes in the first scene "bathe their shamelessly nude bronze bodies". Under the looser version of the Hays code that existed up to 1934, nudity involving "civilised" (i. e. white) women was banned, but permitted with "uncivilised" (i. e. all non-white women), a loophole that was exploited by the producers of Virgins of Bali. The film, which mostly consisted of scenes of topless Balinese women was a great success in 1932, and almost single-handedly made Bali into a popular spot for tourists.

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