Back to the syllabus



The documentary entitled Censored provides the viewer with a one-hour overview of the role of censorship in American film history. 


Why do we find crime and violence so entertaining?


Jane Addams in 1906 opened up a theatre for films that she felt would be uplifting---it was not successful, it lacked the lure of violence that the other theatres offered.


Do movies cause violence or only reflect the violence in our society?


If we are going to have censorship, who decides what should and should not go into the films?  The history of censorship in America is largely one of maintaining the status quo and that status quo is one in which powerful moneyed forces decide and they decide in ways that will ensure their continued wealth and power.  It is all about controlling the information flow so as to control the way you think.


Remember:  thoughts…..feelings…..behavior.


The greatest example of censorship was World War One during which the powerful wanted to control the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of Americans in order to win a war…..and in order to break the unions that were nibbling away at their profits.  D.W. Griffith touched on this in his movie Intolerance in which he portrayed the massacre at the Ludlow mine owned by the Rockefellers---so the movie was banned nationwide.


Sex, Alcohol, Drugs, Crime, Violence…..This is the stuff of movies; this is the dramatic material for playwrights, poets, and artists.  It is inevitable that movies and other art forms will deal with this subject matter.  It is also inevitable that some in our society will advocate censorship.  When they so advocate, we should immediately suspect their motives given the history of censorship.

Back to the syllabus