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Jenkins v. Georgia

Banned Films

On 14 April 1894, Thomas Edison put on the first-ever public demonstration of his kinetoscope, an early motion-picture viewing device. Two weeks later, on 28 April, an Atlantic City protest against a peep show called Dolorita in the Passion Dance became the first attempt to ban a motion picture. Since then, movies and morality have often been at odds with one another.

In 1913, Ohio became the first state to attempt a ban on a film, and two years later the U.S. Supreme Court upheld local censorship in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio.

The United States, unlike most other countries, has no system of national censorship; rather, since the 1930s Hollywood, through the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association (later renamed the Motion Picture Association of America, or MPAA) has been self-regulating. By the early 1960s, however, the old guidelines had broken down, and in response to growing concerns over sex and violence in films, MPAA joined with associations representing theatre owners and film distributors to establish the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA). The latter reviews films and gives them ratings that range from G, meaning that they are suitable for general audiences of all ages, to X, films suitable only for persons 17 years of age or older.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Jenkins v. Georgia - Significance, "i Know It When I See It", An "obscenely Boring" Film, Defining Obscenity