OpenNet Initiative. Internet Filtering in Iran in 2004-2005: A Country Study. 9 Apr. 2009.
This repotr by the OpenNet Initiative is a thorough analysis of the internet filtering technology used in Iran. The study begins with a detailed description of the regulation and censorship restrictions in place both in print media and online. Then, the ONI attempts to study the Iranian filtering system. Through accessing remote computers behind Iran's firewalls, the ONI tested a list of websites to see whether they would be accessible or not. They try this technique on multiple computers and do it several different times in order to get an understanding of how consistently a certain website is blocked. Through analyzing the content of HTTP headers and web site loading time, researchers separated sites into four categories: unfiltered, possibly filtered through redirection, possibly filtered with a possible network connection error, and definitively filtered. In Iran, researchers concentrated on two ISPs: the private ParsOnline and the state-owned TCI. Results showed that only one-third of websites tested were blocked. Sites with pornographic material or that provided access to circumvention tools was filtered more successfully. Over the testing period of a year, filtering increased, particularly the filtering of blogs.
This study is perhaps the only empirical study that tests the regulation mechanism in Iran. By providing details of the filtering software and giving empirical data, readers get a clearer picture of the breadth of content that the Iranian government seeks to block. The filtering in Iran appears to be at a sophisticated level, moving beyond pornographic content that violates Islamic law and focusing on more personal forms of expression, such as blogs. One interesting result, however, is that non-Iran specific sites or non-Farsi content is harder for the filtering software to block. Still, the software in place results in an "overbreadth" of sites being blocked, censoring more forms of expression than needed/
Reporters Without Borders. Reporters sans frontières - Internet - Iran. 2004. 8 Apr. 2009.
This report by Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontieres, or RSF) is part of a series of studies that examines obstacles to the flow of information over the internet. RSF's main concern with blogs is that they provide a more-objective source of news than the traditional Iranian media and that they allow for the organization of anti-government protests and demonstration. The RSF report also details the history of Internet regulation in the country, naming the bureaus responsible for controlling access and content on the internet. RSF reports cases of both reformists and conservative hard-liners using government in order to control the Internet. It then details the stories of three cyber-dissidents who have suffered harrassment at the hands of Iranian government officials.
The RSF report provides great background on internet regulation. While efforts at regulation were intensified after the report was published, RSF's concerns remain valid and many of the government policies remain the same. The report also situates the Iranian case in a larger context of internet censorship, which helps by providing opportunities for comparison and contrast. Furthermore, the report demonstrates that both factions of the Iranian government are taking steps to control the spread of information free from government control, perhaps presenting an argument to the idea that this new technology will inherently lead to democratization.
Van Buren, Chris. "Morozov: The Internet No Democratic Cure." Weblog post. Internet & Democracy Blog. 3 Apr. 2009. Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. 7 Apr. 2009 .
In a post on The Berkman Center's Internet & Democracy Blog, Van Buren responds to Evgeny Morozov's piece in the Boston Review on cyber-utopianism. He agrees with Morozov's assessment that intellectuals tend to overestimate the Internet's power to democratize, pointing to the fact that access to the Internet has not removed human rights abusers from power. Van Buren is concerned that online dissidence has led to a wave of heavier repression and authoritarianism that opposes the democratization many intellectuals seek to promote. Yet while believing that intellectuals' idea of technological determinism is naive, he also sees a possiblity for the web’s influence on democratic reform to exist, but in a subtle and slow manner. In order to defend this point, Van Buren examines the Iranian case. The sheer number and variety of Iranian blogs mean that total censorship is impossible, and this promotes the free speech necessary for democratic change. By doing so, Van Buren argues, freer speech becomes more of a norm, and this slowly will defeat censorship. Van Buren also notes that the blogosphere gives a voice to moderates who would otherwise be excluded from the traditional media's emphasis on polarized viewpoints.
Van Buren examines the implicit effects of the existence of so many Iranian blogs. While there is a dispute as to whether or not all Iranian bloggers seek to effect political change, the fact remains that the forum to discuss virtually anything remains open and free to access. Van Buren is suggesting that a social norm will be transferred from the Internet to the real world. At the same time, however, Van Buren ignores the recent efforts of the Iranian government to curb blogging through legal consequences such as imprisonment.
Doostdar, Alireza. "'The Vulgar Spirit of Blogging': On Language, Culture, and Power in Persian Weblogestan." American Anthropologist 106.4 (2004): 651-662. 7 Apr. 2009 <http://www.doostdar.com/articles/vsob.pdf>.
Doostdar, a blogger himself (writing in both English and Persian), opens his article by providing background on the vulgarity debate (bahs-e ebtzeaal) among Iranian bloggers. The debate concerns whether it is important to observe standard orthography and grammar, and whether the use of colloquial Persian is appropriate. Doostdar argues that the debate sparks mostly from the increasing separation of blogging from "offline" media, as well as a political clash between intellectuals and a larger group of people who use the internet to be free from any kind of authority or "intellectual pretense." He also challenges the naive assumption that the emergence of the internet will necessarily result in social, cultural, or political revolution. Doostdar points to many orthographic traits of blog writing to hint at the oral tradition of blogs. He continues on this idea to explain the "dialogic" nature of blogs; that is, blogs engage other texts (and other blogs and bloggers) in a dialogue about material. Part of this dialogue is an established custom of reciprocity that obliges the host blogger to comment on a visiting blogger's recent entries (the practice is known as did-o baazdid: "seeing and re-seeing"). He then discusses the use of "vulgarity" as a form of resistance.
While Doostdar doesn't address the larger social context of Iranian blogging, choosing instead to focus on the blogging community, many of his arguments can be extended from a linguistic debate to a larger social issue. Most importantly, the questions of linguistic authority and legitimacy reflect the dissidents view that the Islamic Republic and its moral code are illegitimate. While Doostdar speaks of resistance in terms of social practices, that resistance can be extended to a more subversive resistance against political authority as well. It is interesting that Doostdar chooses to connect blogging to oral speech traditions; in many ways, Iranian blogs are the discussions that the Iranian public is unable to engage in. Doostdar also ignores the occasional need to misspell in order to avoid censorship or filtering. Still, by examining this debate among bloggers, Doostdar further examines the diversity of Iranian bloggers and demonstrates how impassioned they are about the issues. He also shows how established they are becoming as a community.
- Leonard J. Leff. "The Breening of America." PMLA, Vol. 106, No. 3 (May, 1991), pp. 432-445 Published by: Modern Language Association
Leonard J. Leff’s article “The Breening of America” works to point out the fact that as head of the PCA Joseph Breen worked not only out of concern for upholding decency and morality, but at the same time he attempted to promote a political, profit-seeking agenda. The article indicates that many famed Hollywood directors including Charlie Chaplin shared the same contempt for certain aspects of American culture written about by famous authors such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Steinbeck, but they did not have the same freedom in expressing it.
The article characterizes Joseph Breen, who had fully realized power in July 1934 when The MPPDA created the PCA and named him director. Breen is noted to be morally conservative, and at the same time to have tyrannical tendencies. Nevertheless, Breen is described most aptly in this article as a facilitator between social forces, and American filmmakers. He is attributed with both providing a staunch conservative influence on the social environment, and with maximizing the profitability of Hollywood by way of giving the American public precisely what they wanted to see.
This is a particularly interesting portrayal of an organization that was for all intents and purposes designed to provide censorship. A censor of the film industry cannot be arbitrarily lawless and continually maximize profitability. Joseph Breen realized this and therefore took on his aforementioned facilitator role. This applies directly to The Grapes of Wrath because it begs the question; would the film have been as profitable if it it’s thematic focus was more closely aligned with Steinbeck’s? Leff would contend that it probably would not have been as profitable. Needless to say however, the thematic focus of the film was tailored toward providing entertainment that was uplifting at least to some extent.
- Georges Hugnet and Margaret Scolari The Bulletin of the Museum of Modern Art, Vol. 4, No. 2/3, Dada and Surrealism: Essays by Georges Hugnet (Nov. - Dec., 1936), pp. 3-18 Published by: The Museum of Modern Art
Georges Hugnet details the experimental art movement born in Zurich that became known as Dada. The aim of Dada was aimlessness, experimentation, and a lack of continuity. Hugnet describes Dada as undermining established authority, and negating any notion of good and evil. The complete randomness and chaos of Dada is intended for the sole purpose of awareness. Not awareness of a social context, foreshadowing what is to come in the future or symbolizing what has happened in the past, but only awareness of what is immediate.
It is asserted that Dada came out of the pre-WWI period in response to the looming feelings of chaos and destruction. It is interesting to note that prior to WWII in America, the social and political context of filmmaking and creativity of expression was the polar opposite. Far from being experimental, undermining and subversive, American filmmakers including John Ford had to undertake a formulaic and almost prescribed path if they wanted to produce motion pictures on a large scale.
The dichotomy is interesting because it highlights how filmmaking in America made the complete transition toward being labeled an industry. There was no intent in creating a film other than maximizing revenue at the box office. In this light, the theme of The Grapes of Wrath can be seen to be reactionary to cultural conditions, whereas Steinbeck’s novel can be viewed as instigating cultural realizations.
tagged censorship dadaism hollywood by rale ...on 02-DEC-08
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995.5 .B49 1994
Hollywood Censored by Gregory D. Black details how the American film industry was very much impacted by the censorship of the PCA starting in the mid 1930s and moving onward into 1940. The main function of the self-censoring PCA was to ensure that racy political or sexual material was kept off the silver-screen. The primary reason that people should see movies in the eyes of the PCA was not to be enlightened, challenged, or changed but for the sole purpose of being passively entertained.
The PCA became increasingly effective at dealing with movies that had a deeper social or political subtext. Joseph Breen was the head of the PCA which began effectively enforcing its restrictions in 1934. There were a number of restrictions placed on the films. These included restrictions in the depiction of immoral behavior, nakedness, and of course attitudes toward religion and country.
It is seemingly no surprise then, that after five years of Breen leading the PCA, production companies were quite adept at submitting scripts that could get approval and begin making money at the box-office. In the case of The Grapes of Wrath, the harsh critique of the American political and economic system that was so much a part of Steinbeck’s original work had been written out of the script before even reaching Breen for approval. The story “was reduced to one family’s struggle in the face of exception events” (Black, 287).
It is important to realize that as a director, John Ford’s ability to be creative was very much curtailed by the social constraints of the time. Depicting overly simplified themes in accordance with traditional American moral values was a necessity for Ford. This is something that Dempsey fails to fully make note of in his criticism of Ford’s work.
- Chambers, Whittaker "The New Pictures." TIME Magazine. Monday Feb. 12, 1940.
In a famous review of The Grapes of Wrath, then editor of TIME Magazine Whittaker Chambers defiantly raves about the film. A former Communist party member and Soviet spy, Whitaker ended up defecting from the party and becoming one of communism’s most notorious and outspoken opponents. After breaking ties with the Communist party in 1938, Whittaker went on to become an editor of TIME.
It is interesting to note that Whittaker mentions a brief, albeit scathing criticism of Steinbeck’s original book version of The Grapes of Wrath. Whittaker refers to the Pulitzer Prize winning novel as “propaganda” and containing “phony pathos.” Whittaker goes on to qualify that the type of person who is to gain the most enjoyment from observing The Grapes of Wrath is the one who enjoys “seeing a picture for picture’s sake.” Whittaker claims that The Grapes of Wrath could quite possibly be “the best picture ever made from a so-so book.”
Whittaker mentions that the book translates so effectively to film for a couple of reasons: “credit belongs accidentally to censorship and the camera.” The self-censorship of the Production Code Administration is namely what Whitaker is alluding to here. The editorial criticisms of the American economic system made by Steinbeck are also eliminated from the picture. What remains is an authentic tale of a U.S. farming family. “They wander, they suffer, but they endure.”
This article is highly significant because it not only points out the thematic difference that exists between Steinbeck’s book and Ford’s film, but it also provides a historical context. The P.C.A. at least to some extent allowed The Grapes of Wrath to become a film so long as the theme shifted toward a positivist one. There could not simply be a thrashing of the economic conditions in Great Depression America. Instead, it was necessary to instill some sort of hope in the storyline which culminates in the form of an enduring family struggle.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1998.3.C36 S66 2004
In the chapter entitled “Regulating National Markets: Chinese," Smoodin discusses how Bitter Tea’s financially disappointing box-office reception was not so much a consequence of insufficient interest or appreciation by audiences, but rather, the result of difficulty in passing foreign government censors and officials. He notes that Capra’s film received no serious objections from domestic censors, but encountered a great deal of controversy abroad. The movie was censored in the British Commonwealth due to the representation of “racial mixing,” but it faced even greater resistance from the Chinese government, despite extensive negotiations and compromises on the part of Columbia studios to ameliorate the situation. Global distribution of Bitter Tea was made even more difficult when Chinese censors threatened to refuse all future dealings with Columbia and Paramount unless the film was completely withdrawn from the global market. Scenes were removed and a prologue was added, but ultimately, the censors in China, by lobbying against the film in other countries like the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, Manila and Calcutta, managed to slow down distribution considerably.
Though the Chinese market represents a very small pie-slice of income generated by foreign distribution of Hollywood films, Smoodin’s article demonstrates how film production could be adversely affected overall by the potential for controversy in even one country. What may seem inoffensive to American audiences and censors could be outrageously inappropriate by the standards of government regulation in foreign countries. The mere suggestion of controversy could dissuade other countries from showing a film, as was the case with Bitter Tea in Japan and Cuba. Smoodin’s article clearly demonstrates the inconvenience such controversy created, and explains why studios felt the need to institute more well-regulated and standardized censorship as a means of deflecting these possible disturbances.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995.9.M57 C38 2005
Susan Courtney’s third chapter, “Coming to Terms with the Production Code," examines how miscegenation was regarded by censors during the pre-code years and attempts to trace the exact origins of the “miscegenation clause” included in the Production Code of 1930. Courtney notes that the clause’s exact wording -- “Miscegenation (sex relationships between white and black races) is forbidden” – originally appeared in the “Don’ts and Be Carefuls” of 1927, and remained relatively un-amended until the code as a whole was gradually abandoned in the 1950s. Courtney posits that there was no single source that led to the inclusion of the miscegenation clause (in other words, there was no specific individual or demographic that found miscegenation particularly objectionable); rather, the clause emerged out of consultations conducted by the Hays Office with local or state censor boards across the country, suggesting a more widespread cultural aversion to the inclusion of interracial mixing in film.
In regards to Bitter Tea, this book supplies a significant contextual understanding of how the interracial themes pivotal to the film’s plot would have been received by censors and audiences alike. Courtney notes that the actual enforcement of the miscegenation clause was very unclear, explaining how a film like Bitter Tea could have easily passed muster with American censors. Because the miscegenation clause only makes mention of “blacks and whites," films involving Asian-American interactions were to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Several movies, including “Congai” and “Shanghai Gesture", were never produced because of the inclusion of Asian-American miscegenation, whereas other films seemed to be judged according to a qualified version of the clause that would permit such relations so long as their interactions were limited to “fantasies and identities."
Berenstein, Rhona J. “Adaptation, Censorship, and Audiences of Questionable Type: Lesbian Sightings in ‘Rebecca’ (1940) and ‘The Uninvited’ (1944).” Cinema Journal, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Spring, 1998), pp. 16-37.
In her article, Bernstein addresses the taboo subject of lesbian desire as it is subtly depicted in Rebecca. Even up until the modern day, she explains, societal recognition of lesbians is consistently and unfairly suppressed. Rebecca deWinter serves as an undeniable object of lesbian desire, at a time when female homosexuality was even less societally accepted and understood than it is today. Even though she is dead and unseen, Rebecca is arguably the most powerful presence of the film, not to mention its namesake.
The young heroine feels the wrath of Rebecca most acutely, and is constantly reminded of her omnipresence through her physical possessions and the undying loyalty, and possibly sexual desire, of Mrs. Danvers toward Rebecca. Introducing this subversive suggestion of lesbian desire was risky during the time when Rebecca was made, and it violated specific mandates of the production code. In the early stages of the film’s production, Joseph Breen, the head of the Production Code Administration (PCA) at the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA) wrote a series of letters to David O. Seiznick indicating his objections to Rebecca. The most urgent objection, and thus the aspect of the film which was most readily changed, was that Maxim is left unpunished by the law despite murdering his wife – accordingly, in the film version, the incident is depicted as accidental. Next, Breen objects to the implication of Rebecca as a sexual pervert, and finally to the illicit relationship between Jack Favell and Rebecca, which is suggested to result in an illegitimate child. The second objection subtly implies but fails to explicitly mention the film’s treatment of lesbian desire, though Breen’s intentions are clear.
Thus, not only is the depiction of lesbian desire within the film understated, but even the censorship evaluation dances around the issue. The depiction of lesbian leanings in a mysterious, frightening film like Rebecca is an interesting statement, as the ghostly quality of Rebecca pervading the narrative is echoed by the lesbian’s unseen yet acutely recognized presence within society.
Chapter four of Low's book History of British Film examines the issue of censorship and focuses on films such as The Seashell and the Clergyman, M, Poil de Carotte, La Maternelle, Freaks, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Der Ammenkoenig. Low explains the various reasons that films were censored in Britain including sensitive subject matter such as child suicides, child murderers, and vaguer explanations such as the film containing “revolting monstrosities” and, the most infamous of all reasons which was applied to The Seashell and the Clergyman: being “So cryptic as to be almost meaningless. If there is a meaning it is doubtless objectionable” (Low 70). She goes on to explain the indifference with which the censorship board examined films intended for entertainment and those intended to be art, applying the same scrutiny of acceptability to both.
This chapter may at first appear to have little to do with the thesis of this project, however it lends much to an analysis of Artaud's philosophy and film theory. The indiscretion employed by the censorship board typifies the normative view of the homogeneity in purpose behind films which Artaud vehemently opposed. Furthermore, the response of the board to The Seashell and the Clergyman begins to illustrate the involvement of the audience in art that Artaud advocated, though it falls short of the participation that he desired. This response indicates that the viewers were unable to draw logical conclusions about the content of the film (which Artaud had intended) yet their review fell short of attempting to participate in the experience. The manner of its censorship also highlights Artaud's ideal of the artistic goals to which films should aspire: as with the other films listed above, the board no doubt evaluated The Seashell and the Clergyman as a standard entertainment film, declining to consider it as Artaud and Dulac would have desired. Finally, the inability of the board to derive any meaning from the film exhibits the effects of Surrealism that Artaud intended his works to have, displacing the viewer from a normative reality and severing any identification with characters.
Low, Rachael. History of British Film. Vol. 7. New York: Routledge, 1997. 54-73.
This post in the ACLU blog supports the notion that, at least in some circumstances, copyright protection can hurt the public interest. The constitution protects free speech, and exercising this right in the political realm is certainly protected. To suppress this right hurts not only the First Amendment, but also the public interest. By censoring political speech and opinions, copyright protection does not foster a fully free election in which, throughout the campaign, the public has appropriate access to information necessary to make a decision on who to elect and what policies are best. The policies and the people making them are crucial to the interests on the country, hence the public interest, and, according to this argument, copyright does not serve the public interest by restricting individuals' First Amendment rights.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Tim Robbins NAB Speech
Renowned actor, director and writer Tim Robbins used his keynote address at the National Association of Broadcasters conference on April 14 to speak out about the "dangerous lack of diversity of opinion" that characterizes the state of broadcasting today. Lambasting the media for their failure to treat the Bush administration's lies about Iraqi WMDs with the scrutiny they had shown former President Bill Clinton's sex scandal, he calls on the nation's broadcasters to do a better job of upholding their responsibilities to the public. The NAB initially refused to make Robbins' speech available (in contrast to other speeches from their 08 convention). Then they released an edited version in which many of Robbins' most critical remarks were cut. This is the full version of the speech! (Approximately 22 minutes.)
Posted by papertiger
Lewis, John. Hollywood V. Hardcore: How the Struggle Over Censorship Saved the Modern Film Industry. New York and London: New York UP, 2000. 135-191.Chapter 4, titled Hollywood v. Soft Core, examines arguably the most influential year of film censorship to date. In this year, MPAA president Jack Valenti issued a press release to stating that a new production code/ move rating system would be put into place. The same system is still used today to rate films. The chapter does a good job of outlining the events of how this code came into place. The author explains how the "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" was denied by the PCA but began production anyway, anticipating that change was to come. It talks about the controversy over the language such as "screw" and "hump the hostess" were debated and the issues Valenti faced with content regulation. In the end of the meeting, Warner Brothers appealed the PCA's preliminary ruling to deny Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and the film was released. Because of the films amazing success, it marked a point in history where the industry was beginning to understand that the Production Code was a dated system. The film was released with a warning stating "for adults only" and ranked third in the box office list in 1966 behind two other mature-themed pictures. This chapter is very useful and entertaining in its explanation of the pressures and challenges that Valenti faced when negotiating the new rating system. It offers a very in depth perspective and takes the reader on a film by film journey of the controversy.
Chon Noriega’s piece chronicles the depiction and reception of homosexuality in Hollywood using film reviews from major periodicals as source material. As the Production Code demanded that "Sex perversion or any inference of it is forbidden," the period of the 1930s and 1940s was characterized by films that had few if any allusions to the existence of homosexuality. Instead, as films were adapted from materials that featured homosexuality as a part of the narrative, the issue was substituted for other social problems. Noriega looks at the three such films in which homosexuality is recast, as the evils of gossip, alcoholism, and anti-semitism, respectively. Reviews at the time rarely mentioned the exchange, or if they did, praised the substitution as making the film better. From this “conspiracy of silence” came acknowledgment of homosexual themes and characters in the 1950s. As long as homosexual characters faced a character arc that was sufficiently tragic, and thus didactic, films were acceptable and homosexuality was no longer explicitly criticized in the reviews. Beginning in the mid-1950s and continuing to the 1960s the dominant perception of homosexuality was no longer that it was criminal, but that it was a psychiatric disease that individuals could be pitied for being afflicted with, but could be cured of.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955) is often cited as one of the first films to depict a homosexual teenager, Plato, played by Sal Mineo. However, the film initially had more daring content. Upon submission to Joseph Breen’s office, the film was found to have latent homosexual themes that had to be re-edited. The article illuminates the attitudes towards homosexuality at the time of Rebel’s release and the perceived necessity of the changes.
Cohen, Ronald. “The Delinquents: Censorship and Youth Culture in Recent U. S. History.” History of Education Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 3. (1997)
Ronald Cohen examines the particular causes of heightened censorship during the post-World War II period, focusing especially on the fifties. Society became hyper-aware of the problem of juvenile delinquency in the fifties as newspapers and magazines frequently featured descriptions of this rising and troubling trend. Censorship was a means of social control, to quell the passions of a younger generation that had already proven itself unruly. The particularly strong desire to control the youth of the fifties can be attributed in part to the development of youth culture distinct from that of adults during the period. Cohen examines the Comic sCode, which banned or limited depictions of violence, alleged sexual perversion (homosexuality), sexism, and other affronts to traditional, family values. Similarly problematic but less effectively censored was rock’n’roll music, which was considered to be dangerous because of its sexually suggestive lyrics, ability to incite racial mixing, and overly exciting rhythms. Movies and television did not escape this treatment, although the Production Code became outdated, activists and advocates insisted that the medium remain moral and not serve as a subversive example to the youth. Films, most notably Blackboard Jungle (1955) combined a rock’n’roll soundtrack with violent imagery, earning box office popularity among the teen set and the ire of proponents of family values.
Cohen’s article illuminates the audience for films like Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and of the supposedly dangerous mass culture of the 1950s: white, suburban, middle class teenagers with an increasing amount of disposable income in a prosperous time. The film mirrors its audience in setting, casting, and in content.
ONE MAN'S FAVOURITE FILM IS ANOTHER’S MOVIE OUTRAGE
The Scotsman, December 29, 1999, Wednesday, Pg. 3, 478 words, Phil Miller
In this article Phil Miller gives a light overview of the differing climates of censorship across time and around the world, and refers to some of the more famous individual films that were censored, banned, cut or delayed in their time. In terms of religion, he notes how Britain outlawed the showing of the face of Christ in any film until 1940, and how Monty Python’s The Life of Brian, a religious comedy, was denounced and picketed by religious groups around the world when it first came out. Similarly, the lighthearted Dogma was condemned by the US Catholic Church as recently as 1999. He briefly mentions the Nazi and Soviet propaganda of the 1930’s, and banned horror films such as The Exorcist – noting how what was once a terrifying scene has, with time, become somewhat laughable.
In terms of violence, Miller mention Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saving Private Ryan, Natural Born Killers, Cronenberg’s Crash, and A Clockwork Orange. He compares western culture to that of the Gulf states, where sex is censored far more harshly than violence. It’s interesting to see the pattern in which almost everything that is censored at one time eventually, and sometimes immediately, becomes socially acceptable. Take Saving Private Ryan, for example. The dramatic opening sequence of the American troops landing on Omaha Beach is regarded by many as the greatest ever tribute to that significant day – but it potentially could have been censored for being too true to the actual events in its depiction of deaths and casualties.
It’s also not just the strictness of the censorship boards that change over time, but also the mentality of the filmmakers. Miller writes of Kubrick’s promptness at withdrawing A Clockwork Orange from circulation when rumors of a copycat-murderer came about. A few decades later, Oliver Stone did no such thing in similar circumstances, even after the news of a third young couple mutually participating in cold-blooded murder after watching Natural Born Killers.
Weinraub, Bernard. “For a Less Restrained Era, a Restored 'Streetcar'; The steam around Brando, Leigh and Hunter Gets Even Steamier.” New York Times (16 Sept. 1993): C12. University of Pennsylvania Library, Philadelphia. 7 April 2008. <http://hdl.library.upenn.edu/1017/8765>.
This newspaper article, written forty years after Streetcar was released, announces a re-release of the film that includes dialogue, extra shots, and additional music from the original score that was initially cut due to “inappropriate” sexual content. Beginning with an overview of the film that mentions its four Oscars and twelve nominations, Weinraub recounts the stringent Motion Pictures Production Code and Catholic Legion of Decency in 1929 that attempted to ban Streetcar from theaters altogether. According to the president of Warner Brothers, the film was restored in order to enliven the sexual undertones that Tennessee Williams always intended to display. Stella and Stanley’s primal attraction, the seemingly innocent Blanche’s promiscuous history, the sexual tension between Blanch and Stanley, and Blanche and Stanley’s violent rape scene have all been intensified in Streetcar’s latest version.
As Streetcar was overwhelmingly risqué for 1950s film, Weinraub also makes a point of discussing Williams’ and director Elia Kazan’s relationship with Hollywood officials during the initial production of the film. According to Warner Brothers documents that had just been released to the public, Kazan and Williams were on the brink of disassociating themselves with the production of Streetcar entirely due to the many “moral” objections they received, particularly in regard to the rape scene. Defending his work, Williams claimed that his rape scene was anything but immoral; in fact, he stated it was “a pivotal, integral truth in the play, without which the play loses its meaning, which is the ravishment of the tender, the sensitive, the delicate, by the savage and brutal forces in modern society.” Thus, this situation not only exhibits Williams’ commitment to truth in a world filled with sins such as alcoholism, violence, and suicide (all of which is explores in his film), but also reveals Kazan’s realist priorities as a director. Furthermore, this clichéd conflict between the subordinate artist and superior capitalist sheds light on just how dramatically film has changed over the course of fifty years.
psiphon is a censorship circumvention solution that allows users to access blocked sites in countries where the Internet is censored. psiphon turns a regular home computer into a personal, encrypted server capable of retrieving and displaying web pages anywhere
This comes as a direct result of the Dmitry Sklyarov case. He fears that foreign researchers can be jailed for research in security and cryptology they performed in their own countries if it is viewed to be a DMCA violation in the United States. The DMCA prevents security experts from pointing out bad protection algorithms and only increases the profitability of the “businesses of the incompetent.” Without the ability of experts to point out and discuss bad algorithms, copyrighted material protected by these algorithms are exposed to hacking.
He further notes that the DMCA will not prevent people from discussing ways to break algorithms for illegal uses. His experience is that the “bad guys share their knowledge and act without regards to laws.” It's only the people aiming to increase the strength of computer security that will be silenced. The DMCA only helps pirates win in the end. Cox also claims that what the DMCA would prevent him from saying regarding inspecting computer security systems in the United States would be considered negligent in the United Kingdom.
From Cox's statement, the DMCA hurts the United States software development community in two main ways. It prevents international researchers from speaking, for fear of prosecution of their research or activities in other countries. It also means that the block of the DMCA will hinder US researchers from discussing decryption methods and our own security will be weakened when compared to the advances made by other countries who are able to have these discussions.
The court determined that both posting and linking were not protected by the first amendment. They determined that while there is a part of code which is speech, there is also a non-speech component which can be banned under the anti-circumvention clause. Exemptions are provided for reverse engineering and cryptography. However, these exemptions only extend to the cryptographers and the reverse engineers directly. Publishing their results is not considered an exemption. The consequence of this decision is that to prevent lawsuits, technical journals will likely avoid discussion of Digital Rights Management. For example, discovery of important security flaws would not be published because it might hint as to how to break the encryption. Understanding the flaws of the current generation however is essential to enhancing security for in the future. Development of future security methods have continued to be crippled by the DMCA, due to the limited scope of the exemptions.
In LexisNexis, click "Get a Case" and search for case 253 Pa. 422
In The Matter of The Franklin Film Manufacturing Corporation
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
253 Pa. 422; 98 A. 623; 1916 Pa. LEXIS 862
March 24, 1916, Argued April 17, 1916
PA State Board of Censors appeals to have a lower court’s reversal of Board’s decision to eliminate certain portions of “Virtue”, mentions Act of 15, May 1915 P.L. 534 that established Board of Censors and guidelines for censorship.
In trying to get Virtue approved to be shown in Philadelphia, the State Board of Censors wanted to remove several portions of the film. Franklin Film appealed to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, which reversed the censors. The Board then appealed to the state Supreme Court, which decided that, because the Board of Censors did not act arbitrarily, the portions should be removed. By D. Verbofsky
In LexisNexis, click "Get a Case" and search for case 265 Pa. 335
In The Matter of the Goldwyn Distributing Corporation
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
265 Pa. 335; 108 A. 816; 1919 Pa. LEXIS 552
May 20, 1919, Argued June 21, 1919
PA State Board of Censors appeals to have a lower court’s reversal of Board’s decision to eliminate certain portions of “The Brand”, mentions Act of 15, May 1915 P.L. 534 that established Board of Censors and guidelines for censorship. Goldwyn appealed to the Common Pleas Court of Philadelphia because the State Board of Censors to not approve the film “The Brand” for release in Philadelphia, saying that the film was moral and that the Censors were guilty of “arbitrary and oppressive abuse of discretion”. The Philadelphia court approved the film, so the Board of Censors appealed to the state Supreme Court. The PA Supreme court reversed the order, deferring to the initial decision of the Board, causing the film to not be approved. By D. Verbofsky
This article from the NY Times rips into the Pennsylvania State Board of Censors. It provides an outside view of the censorship to which films shown in Philadelphia were subject. By D. Verbofsky
PA Board of Censors bans films that glorify crime. This blurb in the NY Times gives a view to an instance of large scale film banning in Pennsylvania/Philadelphia, perpetrated by the State Board of Censors. By D. Verbofsky
PA State Board of Censors bans crime movies and prize fight films. This blurb in the NY Times gives a view to an instance of large scale film banning in Pennsylvania/Philadelphia, perpetrated by the State Board of Censors. By D. Verbofsky
Samuel Goldwyn, of Goldwyn Distributing, submits to the NY Times examples of what the Pennsylvania State Board of Censors is doing to his films. Examples are illustrative of types of changes being made by Censors, and what kind of material they objected to being shown in Pennsylvania/Philadelphia. By D. Verbofsky
Smith, Jeffrey A. "Hollywood Theology: The Commodification of Religion in Twentieth-Century Films." Religion and American Culture. 11.2 (Summer, 2001): 191-231.
William Peter Blatty’s inspiration for The Exorcist was a Washington Post article about a successful exorcism, in which he has said that it confirmed his belief in God and religion. Presenting this idea to the public in film format was a major challenge, as it can be difficult to discern the religious message among the externalities, such as special effects. In this article, Jeffrey A. Smith documents the evolution of religion in film throughout the twentieth century, presenting examples in a large number of films including The Exorcist.
Smith shows that the treatment of religion in film transitioned from being respectful and institutional until the 1960s, with MPPDA codes prohibiting the use of God’s name in vain, to being about an individual’s quest for religion later in the century. The Cold War era brought about emotional distance in this topic and eventually, God was being personified into people or characters, and humor was used to address religion. The movement from divine spirits to earthly objects translated into The Exorcist with the evil powers possessing a human life. In this sense, The Exorcist was a film that would classify as a transitional movie among religion in film.
Smith notes that The Exorcist could easily have received an X rating or obscenity prosecution, but the notorious parts were in the context of a church ritual. He proceeds to say that the film “avoids opportunities for theological exposition and can be experienced as little more than a horror show” (214). Although moralistic endings can be attached to possession movies, he accuses films of the “satanic power genre” as being little more than a spectacle and an exploitation of religion. A religious view on the film is essential in assessing whether Blatty achieved his goals, and Smith’s evaluation of religion in twentieth-century film puts The Exorcist into a much larger perspective.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995.62 .L4 2001
This book deals with Joseph Breen, head of the Production Code Administration, his interpretation and strict adherence to the Production Code, and the effect it had on the film industry at the time. The Production Code was a set of guidleines governing the production and content of motion pictures, spelling out what was and was not considered morally acceptable in film. Adopted in 1930, it began to be enforced in 1934 by Breen, and this changed the way film looked. Risque material, including toilet humor, sexual explicitness and gratuitous violence, was often cut from films. Breen’s approach to film directly conficted with that of screenwriters and directors. He “tended toward the literal…and he had a dollars-and-cents approach to the movies: they were more entertainment than art.”
Jeff and Simmons point out that it is for this reason that Wyler worried Breen, for Breen perceived him to be “a new kind of Hollywood filmmaker, independent, uncompromising and fiercly committed to cinema as an art form.” Wyler resented the Code and saw it as an impediment to making mature, realistic films that deal with examine adult themes. Wyler’s original ending to The Best Years of Our Lives as an ambiguous one, with Fred (Dana Andrews) frustrated and disillusioned, wandering alone among the old planes in the airfield. Due to Samuel Goldwyn’s, the producer, insistence, it was changed to a more positive ending, with Fred finding love and hope, and this change was heavily supported by Breen. Though the ending still has an ambiguous sense of openness (it leaves one feeling that though the protagonists have found momentary relief and happiness, but real life will continue), the information in this book demonstrates the limitations of the time period on creative expression. Even though the movie deals with adult themes such as alcoholism and adultery, it does so in a somewhat subtle manner, and even the message of the film conveyed by the film was altered due to standards of the the time. Depsite all this, however, the The Best Years of Our Lives is still a powerful and moving film, a testament to its expressiveness and timelessness.
A 1999 article exploring the controversy behind the censorship of Lolita. Chronicles its initial printing in France, followed by its two-year ban shortly thereafter, and ultimately its overwhelming success in the U.S. following its 1958 publication:
"Lolita" was an enormous success, the first book since "Gone With the Wind" to sell 100,000 copies in the first three weeks of publication. The lack of outrage over the book in America might be attributed to the tenor of the times: sex, and even teen sexuality, was 'in.' Elvis Presley was gyrating to the top of the pop charts and films like "Blackboard Jungle" were glamorizing youth and even juvenile delinquency. Parents were uneasy, but they had more glaring affronts to middle-class values to worry about. "Pedophile" was not a term one read in the morning newspaper. A cynic might add that "Lolita" is a complex and often tricky book, and that only the most fanatical Philistine, intent on ferreting out every incidence of filth, was likely to read it to the end.
Brief history of the Penguin publishing house, including statement on Lolita and censorship:
1958: Putnam publishes Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov, unleashing a storm of controversy. Banned by public libraries in some American cities—and officially banned by the government of France--the book becomes a best-seller. Along with Norman Mailer's Deer Park, published by Putnam in 1955, Lolita is a landmark victory against the threat of censorship.
In the same issue of The New York Times as the Macgowan letter in defense of Lifeboat, Bosley Crowther responds with a strong critique of Macgowan and the film.
Crowther's article is a strong reflection of the American view of films during the height of censorship. His article is not one of strongly synthesized arguments about why Lifeboat is bad for the war effort. Instead he frequently employs the use of rhetorical questions, asking questions like "What's going on out there[Hollywood]?" as if any film whose portrayal of America's strength is questionable is an outrage in itself and needs no further explanation.
One of Crowther's criticisms that does not feature a question mark is that of all the abilities given to the German. He is the only one with the mental, physical, and emotional ability to amputize Gus's leg, navigate the ship through the storm, and row it towards its destination. He credits all of his abilities as being well-explained, but critizes Hitchcock (and unfairly Steinbeck) for giving them to him in the first place. His argument can be summarized as no matter how well you explain Superman's ability to fly, his super strength, or his heat vision, they still make him look like Superman.
He closes his critique claiming that anything that casts doubt on America is inherently bad to morale and for our image overseas, giving credence to the idea of film as Will Hays's silient salesman. Censorship in the 1940s is often attributed only to organizations like the PCA and OWI. However, the critical reaction to Lifeboat shows that if they weren't strictly enforcing unquestionable pro-American ideals in film that their would be outcry from other outlets.