By Gerald R. Butters Jr.
if you happen to stuck a film in Kansas via a lot of the prior century, you’re more likely to have noticeable a distinct model than did the remainder of the USA. Theda Bara’s depictions of depraved sexuality have been off-limits, and a movie reminiscent of the 1932 Scarface confirmed a long way an excessive amount of violence for hot folk—a hazard to Protestant tradition and to the morals of the final population.
In 1915, Kansas turned considered one of just a handful of states to set up its personal movie censorship board. The Kansas board managed reveal content material within the country for greater than fifty years, but little is understood approximately its actions. this primary book-length research of kingdom movie censorship examines the original political, social, and monetary components that resulted in its implementation in Kansas, analyzing why censorship laws was once enacted, what the attitudes of Kansans have been towards censorship, and why it lasted for part a century.
Cinema historian Gerald Butters locations the Kansas Board of Review’s makes an attempt to manage reveal content material within the context of national censorship efforts through the early a part of the 20th century. He tells how elements corresponding to Progressivism, problem over baby rearing, and a supportive press contributed to censorship, and he lines the board’s heritage from the issues posed by means of the emergence of “talkies” via altering sexual mores within the Nineteen Twenties to demanding situations to its strength within the 1950s.
In addition to revealing the positive issues of movie content material deemed too delicate for screening, Butters describes the day-by-day operations of the board, illustrating the problems it encountered because it wrestled not just with continually moving definitions of morality but in addition with the vagaries of the political and criminal platforms. Stills from films illustrate the kind of monitor content material the board tried to censor.
As Kansas confronted the march of modernity, even nation politicians started to criticize movie censorship, and Butters tells how through the Sixties the board was once scuffling with to stay suitable as movie businesses more and more challenged its makes an attempt to regulate reveal content material. Banned in Kansas weaves a desirable story of the enforcement of public morality, making it a definitive examine for cinema students and an enjoyable learn for movie buffs.
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Additional resources for Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966
Jowett, Film: The Democratic Art, 82. 39. William Healey, The Individual Delinquent, 307; Orrin G. Cocks, “A Real Motion Picture Ogre,” 20. 40. “How a Brooklyn Priest Deals with the Problem of Moving Pictures,” Moving Picture World, October 29, 1910, 983. 010 Butters Ch01 (1-23) 6/4/07 8:01 AM Page 15 Progressivism and the New Medium of Film 15 In the field of education, motion pictures gained some early support, but many instructors were hesitant about readily accepting the new medium of expression.
35 Two of the major concerns regarding children and their relationship to film involved the depictions of sexuality and crime. Around 1900, American producers began to make films that pushed community standards of decency regarding dancing, costumes (or lack of them), and sexuality. Although the majority of theaters were reputed to maintain polite standards at all times, the smaller independent theaters and penny arcades were looking for a select audi34. Jowett, Film: The Democratic Art, 77; “The Socialist Mayor of Milwaukee on Moving Pictures,” Moving Picture World, June 4, 1910, 928.
47 Religious leaders of the Church of Christ and the Roman Catholic archdiocese were chief leaders in the movement to sanitize the movies. On December 23, 1908, Mayor McClellan called for a public hearing to discuss the general condition of movie theaters. ” The mayor listened to arguments against motion picture exhibition from almost every religious denomination in the city. Frank Moss, leader of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, a reform group, gave evidence and made an elaborate case against the movies.