The film industry was formed in the 1890s in New York and Chicago. The industry invented the first motion-picture shows. Throughout the years, more people from those cities began to pay attention to films and began enjoying watching it. Films were becoming the most popular entertainment. Every city had one or more theaters and tons of people attend those theaters. It beame a great way to socialize and see how successful the film industry had become.
Even though the industry became popular, it provided detrimental influence on children, so censorship was created to protect those films by either editing the inappropriate scenes in the film or rejected films to premiere. According to the children in the cities of Chicago and New York, they believed that the shows played in theaters were real and they should mimic it. In the article, “ The House of Dreams”, the author, Jane Addams, mentioned that youth believed that “views the deeds of the hero simply as a forecast of his own future and it is this fascinating view of his own career which draws the boy to shows of all sorts.Order now
They can scarcely be too improbably for him, portraying, as they do, his belief in his own prowess” (pg. 78). Type of movies about revenge, romance, drama, and action heroes, interest the youth, so Addams believed that the youth could not tell if the shows are real or not. As a result, “ An eminent alienist of Chicago states that he has had a number of patients among neurotic children whose emotional natures have been so over-wrought by the crude appeal to which they had been so constantly subjected in the theaters, they have become ictims of hallucination and mental disorder” (92). Only were children suffering from mental issues from those movies but, those movies also showed what the children should do and that would be there future. In the end, films caused crimes and chaos in the cities. One example that a child committed a crime was stealing “ a mass of artificial flowers with which to trim a hat.
She stated that she had taken the flowers because she was afraid of losing the attention of a young man. (pg. 0)” That man was the only man that ever took her to movies and if he doesn’t see him, she will be heartbroken and couldn’t go to the theater ever again. She cannot live without the theater. This example shows how films affected children’s mind causing them do illegal actions instead of having common sense. That girl could have gone to the theater with a different guy instead of being so obsessive with that one guy, but movies taught her that she needs to keep that one guy by being all “dressy” and giving him attention.
Another example story that Addams wrote that had to do with children committing crimes was about how a family of a women, two boys, and a baby are in poverty where the mother sends her boys out to beg for money. They didn’t listen to their mother, took a revolver, killed a Chinese laundry-man, stole money from him, and gave the money to the mother where she was thankful (79). Addams also mentioned a story were nine, eleven, and thirteen years old boys planned to kill and rob a milkman. They bought a gun tried to shoot him, but they missed.
Not only young boys were causing illegal actions. Older boys were also doing it too. For example, “ Thirteen young lads were brought into Municipal Courteach one with an outfit of burglar’s tools in his possession” (94) Those boys told the judges that they saw a play that had a burglar that suggested that other people should follow his path. Those types of shows were unacceptable, according the writers, similar to Addams, because it filled the youth’s minds to accept those actions and made them okay to do it.
The communities in both New York and Chicago were afraid that there will be more crimes so the communities created censorship. Censorship started to happen in the late 1890’s due to the films being a threat to morality. For an example, the film, The Kiss, by Thomas Edison is viewed as an evil film because it was showing sexual scenes that children end up seeing in theaters. About a decade later, Chicago enacts the first movie censorship law in America (A Brief History of Film Censorship). Later on, other cities and states knew about censorship and formed their own censorship organization.
New York was the second city that trying to censor movies. In the article, The Campaign to Curb the Moving Picture Evil in New York: Organized, it mentions the Mayor Gavor was trying to regulate shows so it can become “a clean, safe, healthful, and moral place for children of New York City. ” By taking those actions, “ the Motion Picture Conference organized for the purpose of improving the physical conditions at moving-picture theaters” They had a bill that integrates films but the Committee of Rules did not except it.
Even though the bill was rejected, Commissioner Fosdick did some investigation on theaters and children and found out that theaters were evil and it affected children’s mind. Thomas D. Walsh reported that children do not have supervision while watching movies making them sit with “evil-minded and depraved men”. He also reported that there were twenty-eight cases of crimes committed from those actions and tons of other cases cause my immoral actions from children. Walsh wasn’t the only one that reported how evil films are, Miss Maude E. Miner, Secretary of the New York Probation Association did too.
She stated that there was a child who admitted that he or she would ask a man to get him or her a ticket because he or she was not old enough to go to the movies by him or herself. The child told that the man would do that to others, and then bring them to the balcony where they began their vicious work. Miss Miner later had her opinion about children seeing motion pictures. She believed that theaters should not show any immoral films and that they should humane organizations, such as Russell Sage Foundation, showing educational and entertainment pictures that not only instruct lessons to children, but also to poorer classes.
Later on, Tom Gunning explained in his article, From the Opium Den to the Theatre of Morality, that the Board of Censorship was created on March 1909 due to the mayor of New York City “ revoking all licenses for nickelodeons in the metropolitan are and ordering them closed” and how the movies had negative affects in the society (146-147). The Board of Censorship affected the showing of movies. In the article, The Campaign to Curb the Moving Picture Evil in New York: Organized, it mentioned that the board would show “special release pictures” “special” theater that no children are allowed to go to.
Those first films they censored were the prizefight at Reno and the famous picture of Roosevelt in Africa. The board also reviewed the films that production companies had submitted and either passed the movies, if the production companies made certain changes, or rejected the films completely. Gunning used the movie, La Parapluie d’ Anatole, as an example that showed that the board passed the film if it were edited, such as changing the name of the movie, cutting out the letter that the son wrote to his mother, making it two versions, and cutting out part of a scene in the prison (148).
Instead of submitting shows to the board for approval, theater managers, such as Charles Frohman, requested permission from the board so show shows that would give moral lessons. In the article, Frohman Favors Good Sunday Shows, Frohman wanted to show shows on Sunday because he believed that “ the Church is not successfully coping with moral and ethical problems. ” He feels like the plays would reach out to those who need the most influence. His idea was to have the plays be “chosen by a committee of citizens who have long been identified with humanitarian projects in each community and that the strictest civic supervision be exercised. Another reason why he considered to have plays on Sundays was because “ Sunday (is) a day of rest for the public and actors” He imaged that more people would come observe the plays and get the moral lessons behind the plays since jobs are closed and the public are free that day. Frohman mentioned dramatist writers, such as John Galsworthy, Granville Barker, and Bernard Shaw, who created plays that teach righteousness, brotherhood, and humanity.
He mentioned the play, “Justice,” as an example where teaches “ the effect of bringing about prison reforms in England. That and other plays, such as “ Smith,” “The Scandal,” and “The Jews,” are productions that is suitable fro him to play in his Sunday show since they provide moral lessons. Since censorship had surfaced throughout the cities and states, it affected the film industry and the societies. The National Board of Censorship made sure the “evil” films were destroyed and the other films would provide positive influence to the communities. Articles had reports on how many films were either destroyed or edited.
The article, Censors Destroyed Evil Picture Films,” is an example that reported the influence of the board on films. It reported that examined 99 per cent of the movies on the market, which are almost all the films. It means that those films where either left alone, edited, or thrown away because it was too inappropriate to be release to the public, especially children. It reported that since the board has existence, 2,000,000 feet of objectionable films, which had a value of $200,00, were destroyed. Even though film industry lost money on those films, the board had positive influence on the cities, such as St. Louis, Atlanta, Portland, Detroit, and Washington. The children in those cities would get a moral lesson from those movies, such as don’t commit crimes. Another method to improvement the communities that the article mentioned was to let the “adult receives and can healthfully digest simply goes over the heads of children, and if children are defended from the calculated immoral lesson and from excessive scenes of horror and violence, has been accomplished. ” The children ended up not going to motion picture shows because the parents and the laws excluded them.
This is a positive influence since children won’t be allowed to watch inappropriate movies that can ruin their minds and create chaos to the cities and their future career. Therefore motion picture shows should be evaluated before the children viewed it because if movies aren’t investigated, then the youth, in cities like New York and Chicago, would learn the immoral actions and cause destruction to the cities and most importantly, to themselves. Without the invention of censorship, United States would be unstable. Children would keep asking adults to come to the movies with them.
In return, the adults would grab children and abuse them. Children would also keep stealing money from ladies and give it to their mothers or plan an assassination on the neighborhood milkman. Children would not have the knowledge to realize what is romantic, sexual pleasure and think that sex is something to do when you are bored or just to get kids and that’s all. None of the kids would know the cigarettes are deadly to their health and they can end up killed. Censorship is similar to rules/laws where if both didn’t existence, then the whole world would be upside down.
1. “Censors Destroyed Evil Picture Films: National Board Weeded Out …” ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times 14 May 1910: 5. Print.
2. Addams, Jane. The Spirit of Youth and The City Streets. New York: The Macmilla Company, 1930. Print.
3. Gunning, Tom. The Silent Cinema Reader. Ed. Lee Grieueson and Peter Kramer. London: Rootledge, 2004. Print.
4. “A Brief History of Film Censorship.” National Coalition Against Censorship. National Coalition Against Censorship, n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. .
5. Orbach, Barak. “Prizefighting and the Birth of Movie Censorship”. SSRN 1351542
6. “The Campaign to Curb the Moving Picture Evil in New York: Organized.” New York Times 2 July 1911, sec. SM: 15. Print.