Fun Facts About Movie Censorship: Porn, Boxing, Sacrilege and Fatima's Coochie Coochie DancesteemCreated with Sketch.

in movies •  4 months ago

In 1877 Eadweard Muybridge discovered stop motion photography while photographing a galloping horse. Eadward’s benefactor, Leyland Stanford, had a book written by someone else analyzing Muybridge's work. Muybridge was given no credit in the book. The Royal Society of Arts had offered to fund Muybridge’s research, but when they saw the book they were like, “Aw hell no. He just plagiarized all Stanford’s hard work.” Muybridge packed up all his shit and set up shop at the University of Pennsylvania, who was going to pay him to photograph hot college chicks and animals at the zoo (Not at the same time). You can be guaranteed that any time a new visual medium is invented you got about five seconds before someone uses it to take pictures of nekkid boobies. Muybridge was no exception. All of Muybridge’s nudes were filmed in a scientific setting so it looked like legit science. But I find it interesting that the best way he could find to document movement of the human form was by having naked boys play leapfrog, and women pouring buckets of water over themselves. You know…for science.

Thomas Edison also stole Muybridge’s technology. You know…for money. In 1896, Edison released the titillating twenty second stag film “The Kiss”, featuring a mustachioed gentleman and a woman who looks like Shrek’s mom digging in for a few salacious pecks on the lips. The public outcry was immediate. Newspapers called for police to get involved. One critic said, "The spectacle of the prolonged pasturing on each other's lips was beastly enough in life size on the stage but magnified to gargantuan proportions and repeated three times over it is absolutely disgusting." The Roman Catholic church was at the forefront of the public moral outrage and called for censorship of moving pictures to protect the moral fiber of America. Edison was happy for all the publicity.

That same year he put out “Fatima’s Coochie Coochie Dance,” featuring a belly dancer. After critics slammed it for being too deviant for public consumption, white lines were drawn on the film to look like a white picket fence covering up the more risqué parts of her body. It was the first motion picture to be censored.

That same year a French director released Le Coucher de la Marie (Bed Time for the Bride). It was a homely looking woman taking off like a hundred layers of undergarments while her husband waited impatiently behind a partition.

Any time the moral majority is getting their panties all twisted up about something, its either:

A: Some bullshit nobody is actually doing like the Satan worshipping hysteria in the late 80’s.

B: Something everybody is doing, that the "actual" majority would rather the "moral" majority leave them the fuck alone about. But then the actual majority does what the moral majority wants because everyone is ashamed of doing what they don't realize everyone else is actually doing too.

Take for instance Mae West. Mae was a vaudeville star, turned Broadway star, turned movie star. She spent eight days in jail for “corrupting the youth of America” thanks to her smash hit Broadway play “Sex.” Mae’s overt sexuality and bawdy attitude made her a household name. She would eventually get blacklisted from Hollywood for her sexual magnetism, despite in 1935 being the highest paid person in Hollywood and the second highest paid person in America after William Randolph Hearst. If Lindsey Lohan was the highest paid person in America after Bill Gates, I’d say the general population is probably ok with whatever she was doing. I’m getting ahead of myself though.

The first porn flick came out in 1915, entitled “A Free Ride.” It featured a guy picking up two girls on the side of the road. He pulls over to take a piss and the girls get all hot and bothered and fuck him. I guess over the last hundred years porn producers took an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to plots. According to the credits on the film, it was directed by a guy named A. Wise Guy, and photographed by Will B. Hard.
Hahaha! That’s not their real names.

Anyway, porn films were an underground phenomenon. People called them “Smokers” because they were usually showed in smoke filled rooms in male only fraternities. So, if you ever wondered why your grandpa spent so much time at the Elk’s Lodge, it wasn’t because he was planning a pancake breakfast.

Mainstream movies were also pushing the boundaries of what whiny bitches considered appropriate, and it wasn’t just boobies. In 1897, a fifteen round boxing match between James J. Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons was filmed for Edison’s Kinetoscope, which was a thousand pound box that one person at a time looked into. So you had to pay a separate fee to look into a bunch of different boxes, each showing a different round of the fight. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union took special offense to the fight and worked tirelessly to get it banned. Some people thought women shouldn’t be allowed to see half naked men sweating on each other. Other people thought men watching half naked men sweating on each other was totally gay. Either way, it felt the wrath of censorship.

In 1907 the city of Chicago, fed up with people being happy, decided the chief of police would be allowed to view every moving picture that came into town to decide if it was considered appropriate enough for public viewing. Other cities soon followed suit. From the start, the motion picture industry came under attack from Protestant and Catholic church leaders. It turns out the only thing the Catholics and Protestants hate more than each other is the idea that someone out there might be having a good time. Several censorship boards were created. Fortunately there wasn’t a whole lot they could do other than give movies bad reviews. I can understand the church’s desperation. By 1920, 50 million Americans a week were going to the movies. The church wasn’t taking that shit laying down. In 1921, over a hundred bills were submitted to congress regarding censorship of motion pictures.

At this point, movies had moved past being vehicles to show off what cameras were capable of, they were a reflection of society. Movies in the roaring 20’s depicted people having fun. Movies during the 30’s depicted how fucking miserable everyone was during the great depression. Neither of these were ideal for institutions who didn’t want the population doing too much thinking on their own. Gangster movies were extremely popular, as well as horror movies, but even scarier were political and social commentary movies that could potentially rile up an unhappy population.

The new breed of celebrities that Hollywood created didn’t help their own case, unfortunately. Hollywood was rocked in the 20’s by a series of unrelated murders, drug overdoses, and scandals. In 1921 screen legend Fatty Arbuckle’s fat ass got arrested for allegedly raping a girl at a party whose last name was Rappe (not where the word comes from). She died a few days later from internal hemorrhaging and the courts accused him of rupturing her bladder by crushing her. He was eventually acquitted. It turns out her problems had more to do with hard living and possibly some botched abortions than being crushed. Still, Fatty’s career as an actor was over and the church took no time painting Hollywood as a den of filth.

Charlie Chaplin had a bad habit of having too many wives, one of whom was 16 while he was 36, and an 18 year old when he was 54. He had an affair with a woman named Peggy Hopkins Joyce, who is the person whom the term “Gold Digger” was created for, on account of her track record of marrying and quickly divorcing millionaires.

Hollywood darling Joan Crawford was dogged by rumors throughout her career that she got her start in movies by performing in a stag film called “The Casting Couch” in 1918. Bette Davis said about Crawford, “She slept with every male star in Hollywood except Lassie.”

There were also an alarming amount of people in Hollywood committing the sin of being gay while enjoying their life.

Protestant censorship boards had been doing a shit job of censoring movies since the creation of the National Board of Censorship in 1909, but thanks to all the Hollywood shenanigans, censors finally had enough ammunition to launch an effective attack against immorality. In 1930 the great depression was going on and spending money on leisurely shit like movies wasn’t in people’s budget. To make matters worse, a large portion of Hollywood was run by Jews. See, the Jewish population was discriminated against, so they had a hard time getting into established industries. Being a new invention, there was no movie industry, so enterprising Heebs flocked to California to carve out their own slice of the American pie. Jews weren’t the problem; Jews HAD a problem. The Jewish community was no stranger to being blamed for everything wrong in the world and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Protestant Censorship Board, and the Catholic Church had no problem using anti-semitism to vilify motion pictures. Because of the depression, they couldn’t afford goyems boycotting movies.

A 1915 Supreme Court case determined movies were not protected by the first amendment as free speech. In 1918 Congress passed the Sedition and Espionage Act stating it was illegal to criticize the government. These events, and a growing pile of other ones were making government censorship of movies an imminent certainty.

In 1930, in a pretty smooth move, Hollywood elected former Postmaster General and Chairman of the Republican National Committee, William Harrison Hays, as the Chairman of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA). His job was to make sure movie content was squeaky fucking clean so nobody could complain about it. Then he went to Washington and said, “Look fellas, we solved all the morality problems so you guys don’t have to do any extra work or spend tax payer money fucking with us.” It worked. The Catholic church was happy because they weren’t big on Government telling people what to do; that was their job. Everyone else fell in line with them. Censorship was now rule of the land, but at least it didn’t get written into law and the Jewpocalipse was averted.

Hays came up with a list of things that would get you in trouble called “The dont’s and be carefuls.”

  1. Pointed profanity — by either title or lip — this includes the words "God," "Lord," "Jesus," Christ" (unless they be used reverently in connection with proper religious ceremonies), "hell," "damn," "Gawd," and every other profane and vulgar expression however it may be spelled

  2. Any licentious or suggestive nudity-in factor in silhouette; and any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture

  3. The illegal traffic in drugs

  4. Any interference of sex perversion

  5. White slavery

  6. Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races)

  7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases

  8. Scenes of actual childbirth — in fact or in silhouette

  9. Children's sex organs

  10. Ridicule of the clergy

  11. Willful offense to any nation, race or creed

And be it further resolved, That special care be exercised in the manner in which the following subjects are treated, to the end that vulgarity and suggestiveness be eliminated and that good taste may be emphasized:

  1. The use of the flag

  2. International relations (avoiding picturizing in an unfavorable light another country's religion, history, institutions, prominent people, and citizenry)

  3. Arson

  4. The use of firearms

  5. Theft, robbery, safe-cracking, and dynamiting of trains, mines, building, etc. (having in mind the effect which a too-detailed description of these may have upon the moron)

  6. Brutality and possible gruesomeness

  7. Techniques of committing murder by whatever method

  8. Methods of smuggling

  9. Third-degree methods

  10. Actual hangings or electrocutions as legal punishment for crime

  11. Sympathy for criminals

  12. Attitude toward public characters and institutions

  13. Sedition

  14. Apparent cruelty to children and animals

  15. Branding of people or animals

  16. The sale of women, or of a woman selling her virtue

  17. Rape or attempted rape

  18. First-night scenes

  19. Man and woman in bed together

  20. Deliberate seduction of girls

  21. The institution of marriage

  22. Surgical operations

  23. The use of drugs

  24. Titles or scenes having to do with law enforcement or law-enforcing officers

  25. Excessive or lustful kissing, particularly when one character or the other is a "heavy."

Now that everyone calmed the fuck down, Hollywood went back to cranking out movies. They played fast and loose with the rules though, on account of the Dont’s and be Carefuls being a blueprint for movies nobody wants to fucking watch. The Catholic church caught on to their scheme and were pretty pissed for having a fast one pulled on them. In 1934 they created the Catholic Legion of Decency. They made 10 million Catholics sign a pact promising to boycott all movies they found indecent. Hollywood was like, “Ah fuck, they got us.”

The next twenty years were a pretty tame time for movies. However, when the 50’s rolled around, WWII and the great depression were over. People were getting back to work and feeling pretty good. All the moral outrage hysteria was a distant memory and so were a lot of the people raising all the fuss in the first place. Also, with all the bad shit the world just went through, two people kissing each other didn’t seem like the end of the world any more. In 1952 the Supreme Court heard the case Burstyn vs. Wilson, over a movie called “The Miracle.” It was about a simple-minded goat herder chick who meets a guy in the field she believes to be Saint Joseph. He gets her drunk and date rapes her, getting her pregnant. When she finds out she is pregnant she believes she is the Virgin Mary. Now, that’s a pretty fucked up plot, and the protests and outrage the movie received reflected that, despite all the positive things I said a few seconds ago. The law came down on film distributor Joseph Burstyn on charges of sacrilege. Burstyn fought back and took the case to the Supreme Court. His argument was that being charged for sacrilege violates the separation of church and state. The Supreme Court agreed and now movies fell under the protection of the first amendment of the constitution.

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gawd that was a fun read..

"I guess over the last hundred years porn producers took an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach to plots."

so many other good quotable lines..

the don'ts: a laundry list of how artists and actors have skirted the edge of that list and moved the edge out..

Thank for that. A thoroughly great read..

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The thing that keeps me writing is hearing I gave someone a chuckle. Thank you.

I learned a lot about cinematography with this post and I thought I knew a lot to begin with. Your twisted turns in history would make a great college class.

So I guess the only possibly correct thing to do would to be writing a script that ticks all the boxes... except 9.

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I've been wondering about rule 9 for a while, just not enough to google it.

Favorite lines, pics, etc!:

"Hollywood darling Joan Crawford." 😂
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Awesome post man!

Happy New Year 🎉

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Thanks. So I've finally stockpiled enough of these blogs that I have enough pages for a respectable bathroom reader type book. I just need to finish up my holidays and maybe one or two more and I'm going to be ready to work on getting the book out, if you are still down to help me I'd be eternally grateful.

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For sure!
I'm still trying to figure it out too; hopefully my books will be complete by summer.
I have a few friends who have published books: I'll be tapping that brain trust to see where it takes us 🤝

I just waited to see if Edison will jump out to sue someone or steal someone's invention, and boom there he is. I'm pretty sure if he was alive today, he would sue guys like Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. That shitshow would actually be fun.
Happy New Year, Goat.

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I thought about doing a whole post devoted to Edison but I'm afraid by the time I get through with it I'll hate the world even more than I already do, and I'm already two steps away from devoting my life to becoming a comic book super villain.

Hi, @themadgoat!

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Howdy sir madgoat! oh man, lol.. so many great lines here and such clever writing! The entire thing was freaking great. You're really going to do a book?

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That's been the plan the whole time. I wrote all this crap, the feedback has been positive, why not put it up for sale?

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I agree. How do you do that and what form will it be in? Printed or ebook or both?

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Self publishing on Amazon cost the same amount for print and e-book, which is nothing. I keep telling ya man, it's soooo easy to self publish. When you're ready I'll help you publish your westerns.

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thank you sir madgoat. I don't even know if I'll be here in a few months, all depends on the price of steem. But your stuff is much more original and unique than mine and therefore I think much more publishable. lol. I don't know if that's a word even.

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You don't need anyone's permission to self publish. All you have to do is fill out a form with Amazon that is like ten questions asking if you are a human being and then you upload a microsoft word document that is your book. My writing is funny, but it is a niche market. Your writing is some of the most concise, polished, flawless prose I've ever seen. It reads like it's already been proofread by five editors. If you don't do something with your work I'm going to copy and paste all your blogs into a manuscript and publish it myself and hand deliver you the royalty checks.