By Gerald R. Butters Jr.
in the event you stuck a film in Kansas via a lot of the previous century, you’re more likely to have obvious a special model than did the remainder of the United States. Theda Bara’s depictions of depraved sexuality have been off-limits, and a movie akin to the 1932 Scarface confirmed a long way an excessive amount of violence for warm folk—a danger to Protestant tradition and to the morals of the overall population.
In 1915, Kansas grew to become one in every 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 nation movie censorship examines the original political, social, and monetary elements that ended in its implementation in Kansas, interpreting 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 areas 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 components reminiscent of Progressivism, hindrance over baby rearing, and a supportive press contributed to censorship, and he lines the board’s background from the issues posed through the emergence of “talkies” via altering sexual mores within the 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 consistently transferring definitions of morality but in addition with the vagaries of the political and felony platforms. Stills from films illustrate the kind of reveal content material the board tried to censor.
As Kansas confronted the march of modernity, even country politicians started to criticize movie censorship, and Butters tells how by means of the Sixties the board used to be battling to stay proper as movie businesses more and more challenged its makes an attempt to manage display content material. Banned in Kansas weaves a desirable story of the enforcement of public morality, making it a definitive learn for cinema students and an pleasing learn for movie buffs.
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Extra info for Banned in Kansas: Motion Picture Censorship, 1915-1966
The second rationale in explaining the acceptance of motion picture censorship by some citizens in the state was an unconscious fight against modernity. This was an attempt to preserve the “traditional” Kansas way of life. A common sentiment in prewar Kansas was that modern life was simply moving too fast. Sudden, dramatic changes in American society, particularly in regard to technology, were taking place. By World War I, the automobile was beginning to have a significant impact on the state. 15 Automobiles were transforming work patterns and connecting rural residents with 13.
The typical argument that films were the bane of Western civilization came from William A. McKeever, a professor at the Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University) in Manhattan. ” Reports from around the nation came in about children who tried to imitate what they had seen on the screen. The American Review of Reviews noted that two Pittsburgh youths tried to hold up a streetcar after viewing a train robbery on a motion picture screen. 37 Reformers claimed that such acts proved that there was a direct connection between motion pictures and crime, even though many other causes such as family instability and poverty were conveniently left out of the argument.
4. Leo E. Oliva, “Kansas: A Hard Land in the Heartland,” 261. 5. Jowett, Film: The Democratic Art, 190. 6. Sally Foreman Griffith, Hometown News: William Allen White and the Emporia Gazette, 131–32. 020 Butters Ch02 (24-51) 6/4/07 8:03 AM Page 26 Banned in Kansas 26 The Republican Party in Kansas was not enthusiastically united behind the principles of Progressivism. In the first few years of the new century, a significant power struggle took place between traditional Republicans and the new reform faction of the party.