Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio236 U.S. 230 (1915) • State of Ohio passed a law forming a censorship board to review and approve all films • Supreme Court declared that movies were a business, not an art, and thus not protected by the First Amendment • Wrote “They may be used for evil”
1920s Post-World War I
A period of cynicism and breaking with traditions following the great upheavals in society caused by World War I.
Movies used more and more of what put butts in the seats –sex and violence
1930s The Great Depression
Movies created a sense of community • People would go to the movies on a regular basis, usually once a week • Movies catered to their regulars • Door prizes like a set of dishes • Sing-alongs • Community announcements
A full evening of entertainment • A cartoon • A newsreel • A short subject, like a travelogue or a comedy short • A movie, sometimes two
Movies as morale builders • Upbeat and optimistic • musicals
As a backlash against the openness of the Roaring Twenties, many people in society insisted on censorship
Look at these costumes Or lack thereof
The Hays Office • Started in 1930 • Run by Will H. Hays • Set standards for movies • Adopted from a list devised by Father Daniel Lord, a Jesuit priest • Had no effective enforcement
Hays’ 3 Principles • No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin • Correct standards of life, subject only to the requirements of drama and entertainment, shall be presented.
3. Law, natural or human, shall not be ridiculed, nor shall sympathy be created for its violation. This was followed with specific restrictions
Restrictions • Nakedness and suggestive dances were prohibited. • The ridicule of religion was forbidden, and ministers of religion were not to be represented as comic characters or villains. • The depiction of illegal drug use was forbidden, as well as the use of liquor, "when not required by the plot or for proper characterization."
Methods of crime (e.g. safe-cracking, arson, smuggling) were not to be explicitly presented. • References to alleged sex perversion (such as homosexuality) and venereal disease were forbidden, as were depictions of childbirth. • The language section banned various words and phrases that were considered to be offensive.
Murder scenes had to be filmed in a way that would discourage imitations in real life, and brutal killings could not be shown in detail. "Revenge in modern times" was not to be justified. • The sanctity of marriage and the home had to be upheld. "Pictures shall not imply that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing." Adultery and illicit sex, although recognized as sometimes necessary to the plot, could not be explicit or justified and were not supposed to be presented as an attractive option.
Portrayals of miscegenation were forbidden. • "Scenes of Passion" were not to be introduced when not essential to the plot. "Excessive and lustful kissing" was to be avoided, along with any other treatment that might "stimulate the lower and baser element." • The flag of the United States was to be treated respectfully, and the people and history of other nations were to be presented "fairly."
The treatment of "Vulgarity," defined as "low, disgusting, unpleasant, though not necessarily evil, subjects" must be "subject to the dictates of good taste." Capital punishment, “third degree methods”, cruelty to children and animals, prostitution and surgical operations were to be handled with similar sensitivity.