This April, Deptford Lounge will be showcasing media that has been previously banned or censored with a Banned Books display and selection of free film screenings.
Curated and chosen by Senior Library Assistant Andrew Mohammed, we asked him to share some thoughts on how censorship has evolved.
The act of censorship is defined as “the suppression of communication or speech which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by government, media outlet or other controlling body”. While it may seem that the age of political correctness is relatively recent, there are pieces of work across both literature and film, that have been censored or banned outright from the beginning of the 20th century.
The reasons for this have often varied and can be specific to location or the current political climate. It’s hard to believe that Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland could be banned purely because of its portrayal of animals acting with the same intelligence as human beings, yet both this and Orwell’s Animal Farm suffered the same fate in the Hunan province of China. Yet it’s easy though to understand why Lady Chatterley’s Lover was banned here in the U.K for over 30 years.
No sex please, we’re British!
Speaking of sex and it’s regular celluloid accomplice violence, these have been the cause of numerous films being banned by the government. The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando, was banned for 13 years upon release for fear it’s town terrorising gang of bikers would incite real life crimes. The violence must have been too much to handle, what with it finally being rated as a PG upon home release.
Skip 15 years later and we enter the Mary Whitehouse fuelled era of the ‘Video Nasties’, with the beginnings of home video not having to be rated before released. This was of course until copies of films such as The Evil Dead ended up in the wrong hands and there was outcry.
As a result, 72 films ended up on the video nasties list in June 1983, with 39 of these successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act. To this date, nearly all are available to own and be appalled at in the comforts of our own homes. Such extreme measures are not only the act of governing bodies with film makers often having to make the final call. After A Clockwork Orange’s release in 1971, a spate of seemingly copycat crimes were linked to the film. As a result, Stanley Kubrick himself withdrew the film from British cinemas in 1974, with this self imposed ban only being lifted after his death in 1999.
This month, we’ve taken a look back to select for you some remarkable and often era defining books and films; we’ll leave it up to you to decide what all the fuss was about (or not!) and pick up April’s film listing from Reception.