To Censor or Not To Censor? That is the question.

Americans today are inherently against censorship as it violates our right to free speech. But what if censorship did not exist in any form? Our culture and society would be vastly different; sex, nudism, and murder everywhere. In the 1930s, censorship arose in the film industry. Rather than facing government regulation, film proprietors developed a form of censorship that they could control on their own terms. Films changed in order to meet the new standards of “decency.” So-called evil things such as sex and crime could still be portrayed in movies but they could not be as blatant and good always had to win in the end. As we saw in class, the comedy changed as a whole. Before the codes arose, comedies served to tear down the common American values such as family, success, and freedom. The Fatal Glass of Beer, which is definitely the funniest (and weirdest) example of comedy that we viewed in class, focused on tearing apart the ideal family. When the decency codes came about, comedies sought to build up and bring together. It Happened One Night brought the classes together by pairing a rich girl with a down-and-out guy in a cliche story that parallels TItanic. Although we view censorship as an evil entity, maybe it is a necessary evil. Some of the most well known classic films were produced in the 30s such as Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and The Adventures of Robin Hood, adhered to the “codes of decency.” Even though the development of censorship in the film industry complicated and changed things, amazing films were still produced throughout the decade that attracted vast audiences.

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3 thoughts on “To Censor or Not To Censor? That is the question.

  1. The absurdity of ‘The Fatal Glass of Beer’ presents such a unique look into the family construct. With family being so important to Americans, tearing it down seems to provide a resonating observation of the pessimism during the depression. With gangster films criticizing business, negative comedies criticizing government and now mocking the ideal family, what is left to believe is good? It’s recognizing that the social constructs of the modern age have perhaps failed us. What does it say about the system as a whole? Overall, early 1930s film provides a unique look into the minds of Americans of the time (of course I understand it may not reflect reality completely). Nonetheless, they’re an absolute gem for us to study now.

  2. You seem to be making the point that laws in general are censorship and so then it is a way to keep order and needed. To a point I agree with you. We simply can’t have a society of pure chaos. We do need rules but at what point do we stop? It is important to keep balance between free will and order. Do we want to live in a society where adults are subject to constant supervision & require permission to do or say things? Like most things censorship can be used for good or evil and must be kept in check.

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