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Tuesday, December 08, 2020 

A slideshow about the history of censorship in the US

Arcamax posted a slideshow from Stacker Media dedicated to the issue of censorship's history in America, comics included, and it makes an important point what's really suffered:
But it has been sex that has sparked the most passionate arguments over the limits of free speech, whether it is in explicit novels, graphic pornography, classic Greek plays, Shakespeare, poetry, or just the culture’s puritanical tendencies.

Movies and comic books have adopted systems to censor themselves as means of averting full-fledged censorship by authorities. Comic book stories were accused of sending risqué messages to children, and even the cartoon character Betty Boop started wearing longer skirts to avoid criticism.

Still today, schools across the country grapple with keeping books on their library shelves and in classroom curriculum over seemingly incessant objections that they are profanity-riddled or obscene and inappropriate. Throughout the years, the U.S. Supreme Court has drawn the lines around just what merits protection as free speech—lines that have shifted considerably over the years.
This is definitely getting somewhere when they acknowledge that sex often ends up the biggest victim of censorship, regardless of whether there's a valid argument about the approach to its use made. Whereas violence, by contrast, is given leniency because entertainment producers just have to have something to market, no matter the cost, and if Hollywood donates so much to Democrat campaigns, I suppose that could explain at least in part who's enabling these double-standards. I'm glad somebody in the mainstream press thought to bring this up. Although, on the 21st of 41 slides in the series, when it gets around to the 1954 Senate hearings on comic book topics, it says:
Comic books were the focus of censorship arguments over whether they exerted a dangerous influence on children. Publishers in 1954 created the Comics Magazine Association of America and a Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval that policed the use of horror, crime, sex, and violence. The code was heavily influenced by the book “Seduction of the Innocent,” by German psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, who found a gay subtext in the stories of Batman and Robin and claimed Wonder Woman was a lesbian.
Don't they mean to say, "thought and perceived there to be" such a thing? I don't want to sound like grammar police myself, but I think it's still awfully sloppy to say "found" when it was all greatly exaggerated.

On the other hand, when they turn to part 30, regarding Stan Lee addressing the issue of drug abuse in Spider-Man, they say:
The Spider-Man publication of stories involving drug abuse triggered a battle with the Comics Code Authority, which was eased in 1971 as a result. The revised code loosened restrictions on horror and crime comics, sexual content, and drug use. But only a handful of major publishers were still involved, and the code had lost its clout.
That in itself is good. But you know what's sad years later? If you look at how Colorado's practically encouraged drug use by legalizing cannabis, and Oregon's done worse by allowing people to all but get away with it if they're just carrying "small amounts" of hard drugs, that's why years afterward, stories that took up a courageous direction and addressed a challenging issue regrettably failed to make an impact. Why, what does all this say about the politicians who're coming close to legalizing these abominations?

And then, look at all the modern censorship of the past decade, where anti-sex mandates turn up in comicdom - including, but not limited to - Marvel's output. One of the very companies trying to ease up these restrictions in the first place. I've got a feeling that if Lee were still alive, and Spidey had been created just a few years ago, and Lee wanted to do the kind of story he'd first done in 1971, he wouldn't be allowed to, nor would he be allowed to make She-Hulk a big green sex symbol. The people now running the store are such ingrates, and should be ashamed of themselves for bringing back what Lee tried to clear away.

I think it's important when press sources are willing to address these issues, but if they're not willing to acknowledge the slide-back to old tactics we're seeing in the present, it hollows out the true impact. Unless somebody in the MSM is willing to address these issues from a present-based perspective, it does little good to write about it. There actually are one or two more recent items of importance cited in the slideshow, but still much more could be done to address these issues.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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