ESSAY 9 - ESSAY#9 Film Censorship When is a Film...

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When is a Film Objectionable? Copyright Frank Scheide, 2003 ESSAY OBJECTIVES: Examine the questions and problems behind censorship and its history in American film. I. The Nature of Film Censorship As we have noted many times, the motion picture is a medium of communication that conveys messages to an audience. The viewer experiences an emotional, intellectual, and physiological involvement with these messages while participating in this process. The effects the message may have on a person will vary from individual to individual. We might forget about a film in a matter of days or have memories of that motion picture for the rest of our lives. Since each of us responds differently to a film these memories may be positive, negative, or a combination of both. Censorship is concerned with limiting the content of a motion picture when certain critics claim it has a bad effect on viewers. The movies have always been controversial. There have been people who have complained about the subject matter of certain films almost from the very first public screening. The issues of what material should be restricted, the degree of limitation, and who will determine and enforce such restrictions raise questions that have been debated long before the appearance of this particular medium. No one has ever come up with a solution for regulating film content that meets everyone’s satisfaction and probably never will. A review of the issues relating to the history of film censorship can give the responsible film consumer some perspective on this matter. There are two general positions that people have taken in the debate as to what should or should not be shown in the movies. The most conservative argument is that there are some subjects that are so objectionable they should not be shown at all. A counter position is that audiences should decide for themselves what they want to see – an argument often linked with the right to freedom of speech. As is usually the case, the underlying issues are much more complicated than these two rather simply stated positions suggest. As with any freedom, one is free to exercise that behavior up to the point where it infringes upon someone else’s freedom. Some films are made that abuse the people who appear in them, such as child pornography. Children who are forced to appear in such films are exploited at an age when they can not properly exercise control over their own lives. Society must protect children from abuse in those situations where the adults responsible for them will not. The exploitation of children, and the anti-social behavior of viewers who watch these films, can not be condoned. This is one of the few instances where groups advocating censorship and freedom of speech are in general agreement. Every individual’s basic rights must be protected even if it means limiting certain other freedoms – in this case the production and viewing of child pornography. Censorship employed to protect other rights can sometimes be justified, but usually the
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course FILM LECTU 1103 taught by Professor Student during the Spring '08 term at Arkansas.

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ESSAY 9 - ESSAY#9 Film Censorship When is a Film...

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