Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966 by Gerald R. Butters Jr.

By Gerald R. Butters Jr.

           should you stuck a film in Kansas via a lot of the earlier century, you’re more likely to have visible a unique 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 some distance an excessive amount of violence for warm folk—a danger to Protestant tradition and to the morals of the overall population.

            In 1915, Kansas turned one in every of just a handful of states to set up its personal movie censorship board. The Kansas board managed display content material within the nation for greater than fifty years, but little is understood approximately its actions. this primary book-length examine of nation movie censorship examines the original political, social, and financial components that resulted in its implementation in Kansas, studying 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 regulate monitor content material within the context of national censorship efforts throughout the early a part of the 20 th century. He tells how components similar to Progressivism, drawback over baby rearing, and a supportive press contributed to censorship, and he lines the board’s background from the issues posed by way of the emergence of “talkies” via altering sexual mores within the Nineteen Twenties to demanding situations to its energy within the 1950s.

In addition to revealing the nice 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 regularly moving definitions of morality but additionally with the vagaries of the political and criminal platforms. Stills from movies illustrate the kind of display 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 appropriate as movie businesses more and more challenged its makes an attempt to regulate monitor content material. Banned in Kansas weaves a desirable story of the enforcement of public morality, making it a definitive research for cinema students and an pleasing learn for movie buffs.

 

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Extra resources for Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966

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To reel in his rural audience who had been warned about urban life, he argued, “We read in the newspapers day after day the stories telling of separations and divorces and fights in the cities, of arrests for drunkenness and murders resulting from drink. We read of the poverty in the slums where children 16. Jowett, “Capacity for Evil,” 60. ” Then, in order to contrast the wholesome country life with the immoral squalor of the city, Capper continued, “When we think of all this in the great cities, can we doubt for a moment, my friends, that the clean, wholesome life of the Kansas country folk, as we find it typified in a quiet, decent, law-respecting community like Clay county, is far and away the happiest, the most useful life.

First, the industry increasingly began to base films on acknowledged cultural masterpieces, demonstrating that motion pictures could be uplifting and educational. Cinematic versions of Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, A Doll’s House, Faust, and A Christmas Carol were all produced between 1908 and 1910. 59 What became increasingly apparent was that if the industry was going to continue to grow, some type of regulating agency that would satisfy both the industry and the demands of reform and religious groups needed to be established.

Carl Becker quotes E. H. ”21 This interference on the part of state or city government in determining what was “moral” or “immoral” for Kansans was readily accepted by many 20. Henry Farnham May, The End of American Innocence, 92; Capper, speech at National Purity Conference, November 8, 1914, Box 46, Capper Papers, KSHS. 21. Griffith, Hometown News, 197; Becker, “Kansas,” in Everyman His Own Historian, 25. 020 Butters Ch02 (24-51) 32 6/4/07 8:03 AM Page 32 Banned in Kansas Progressive reformers.

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