Photographer Glen Scarborough, taken from Creative Commons

Censorship of television and movies is a discussion the American public has been having for over 100 years. Some believe in the freedom of personal expression while others feel as though movies and TV should be regulated in order to protect the public from graphic material. Whatever the circumstances, there is no doubt that the content in most television and film has become increasingly explicit and violent over the years.

Since the early 1900s, members of the film industry and lawmakers have been debating about whether or not television and film should be censored by the government. Recently, the argument is generally centered around ensuring the safety and mental stability of children and teenagers. Some argue that there is evidence to suggest that violence in the media has some correlation to aggressive behavior of children and teens, however the data is not solid enough to be sure due to unrelated factors that could be responsible for a child’s behavior.

I do agree with the argument that children should be shielded from violent and graphic content, whether it be in movies, television or video games. However, I don’t believe film and television should be mandated by the government in a way that unnecessarily hinder’s an artist’s vision. At the end of the day, it is a parent/guardian’s job to censor what a child sees. Artistic liberty is an important part of modern society and as long as there is no real violence or abuse taking place, content creators should have the freedom to release their work. Filmmakers shouldn’t have to adhere to unreasonable censorship laws, such as cutting out all violence and sexual content.

In the past there have been some extreme cases of censorship, such as demands to alter the plot of Casablanca in order to align with the public’s moral and religious standards, as the film contained instances of adultery. Despite public outrage, many censored movies persevered and are now considered classics, such as Scarface. Overly conservative censorship laws were mainly lifted following the 1973 Supreme Court case of Miller v. California, which redefined the federal government’s definition of obscenity. The new definition of obscenity gave filmmakers more leeway regarding what they could show on screen. As long as any lewd content arguably had artistic value, it didn’t break any censorship laws.

The amount of graphic content consumed is ultimately up to the audience, so it is important to pay attention to warnings and ratings provided by a television or film company. At the end of the day censorship should be moderate, protecting those who are vulnerable with warnings and restrictions while still allowing artistic creativity for content creators.

 

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