Studies in American Political Development



Censorship, Ratings, and Rights: Political Order and Sexual Portrayals in American Movies


Richard A. Brisbin Jr. a1
a1 West Virginia University

Between 1966 and 1971, a remarkable change occurred in the regulation of the sexual content of American movies. A policy of government and industry cooperation in the censorship of sexual portrayals and messages in American general release movies disappeared. Indeed, the collapse of movie censorship appeared quite abrupt. In 1966 state, local, and industry censors nearly kept actor Elizabeth Taylor, in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, from turning into the camera and uttering “You son of a bitch.” By 1971, A Clockwork Orange would contain a scene of rape, frontal nudity, and an accelerated sequence depicting a ménage-à-trois. Such a change signals a synoptic shift in the morality policy governing an industry with significant influence on public tastes.



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