[April 27 2015]
Censorship has been a hot topic in the media recently—the continuing battle against government censorship of the internet, and the recent UK porn ban are two topics currently under heavy discussion. Sure, we’ve come a quite a way since the time of book burnings, and whitewashing pieces of history from children’s textbooks. We congratulate ourselves for our freedom to speak. And yet on a daily basis we are consuming and sharing information through the heavily patrolled, omnipresent censor-world of social media. For my Purple TV takeover, I’ve selected seven videos that look back at censorship throughout the decades, and the pioneers who helped fight for out freedom of expression. Text Karley Sciortino
Directed by the king of sexploitation films, Russ Meyer, The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959) is about a man who sells dentistry appliances, who sees hot naked women wherever he goes—though only in his imagination. It was the first American movie to show female nudity outside the context of naturalism (i.e. a nudist colony), and is considered to be the first commercially viable American “skin flick.” Its success helped pave the way for more lax censorship rules in Hollywood, which at that point were still enforcing the production code (a code enforced in Hollywood that was intended to uphold “moral standards,” but was essentially just used to censor filmmakers). This film played a big part in liberating Hollywood, and the emergence of more risqué adult cinema from then on.
Pink Flamingos (1972) is John Waters’ notoriously transgressive black comedy. Because of the film’s explicit nature, and the “perverse acts” depicting homosexual and heterosexual sex, Pink Flamingos was banned in Australia, as well as in some provinces in Canada and Norway. Other counties chose to release the film with certain scenes edited out or replaced, specifically a scene in which the drag queen Devine gives a blow-job. This is a scene in which a bunch of the film’s bizarre characters castrate someone.
As we all known, the beloved Pussy Riot are leaders in the fight against censorship, and the promotion of freedom of expression. This is the video of the event that started everything. In February 2012, the band staged a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior, protesting the church’s support for Vladimir Putin during his election. They were removed by police after just 40 seconds, and three members were subsequently convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” and imprisoned as a result.
Walerian Borowczyk‘s Immoral Tales (1974) is a series of four erotic short films, strung together into a feature, that tell somewhat bizarre tales of incest, lust, jealousy, masturbation, loss of virginity and bloodlust. Borowczyk made the film as a reaction to censorship laws becoming more lax.
This is a speech given by the iconic filmmaker, John Waters, about free speech and censorship. As always, Waters is insightful, powerful and SO FUNNY, discussing everything from porn to rap lyrics to Richard Prince.
Margaret Sanger was the lead crusader of the birth control movement in America, and is literally the baddest bitch who ever lives. She devoted her life to this fight, and went to jail 8 different times for her efforts. She opened the first control clinic in the United States in 1916 (for which she was quickly jailed), but the organizations she eventually established evolved into Planned Parenthood. Throughout her life, she continually fought censorship in the name of social freedom. This is a 25 minute interview with her from 1957.
Today, a lot of people think of Hugh Hefner as a creepy old man in pajamas. What we forget is that Hefner was a major social pioneer of 20th century, as well as a campaigner for freedom of censorship, human rights and abortion rights. This 5 minute news interview is a brief history of the social sexual and values of early Playboy, and even shows Hefner’s romantic side.