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From the Hays Code to X-Rated Movies: A History of Hollywood Censorship

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, June 7, 2022 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0180
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Thou Shalt Not, protest photo illustrating the Hays Code’s strictures by Whitey Schafer

From its very beginnings in the 1890s, motion pictures have delighted the public—and upset civic and religious authorities who felt that movies needed to be regulated to protect “innocent” minds and discourage immorality. As more and more cities and states established film censorship boards during the early 1900s, Hollywood recognized some kind of action was needed. The result was the 1934 Hays Code, which set up strict rules of language and conduct for studio films that lasted more than three decades.

As times changed the code was replaced by the voluntary MPAA film ratings system in 1968. And yet 50 years later, the ratings system of G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17 films continues to have its own set of problems.

Media expert Brian Rose, professor emeritus at Fordham University, looks at 125 years of movie censorship and the many ways Hollywood has tried to deal with this continuing issue.

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