State censorship and organized boycotts are vigorously opposed
by some participants on a recent Facts Forum Panel program.
Voluntary censorship by submitting pictures to a production
code is approved by guest panelist Arthur De Bra and another
portion of the panel.
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came to uSl
vould sC ■
lay an i-n^j
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Continuing his description of the
production Code Administration, Mr.
ye Bra emphasized that its function
is one of self-regulation. All producers
nave voluntarily entered into agreement, with nothing imposed from the
outside. Twelve men review all the
Pictures with the companies in the
Process from the time the script begins
„"".* P""eliit Arthur De Bra, Director of Corn-
tin,, J ,elotl°ns tor the Motion Picture Associa-
"°n of America.
until the picture is finished. In the case
11 the HI,,,, "| Am A Camera," accord-
'nK to M,.. I),. iSla t)l(,S(. men pointed
"t aifficulties in this script when it
"st.e'"ne in, and worked with the
?.l,lll'o as they went along. Even so.
. '. stud,,, and the producer involved
S'sted on putting some things into
,'e Picture which were a violation of
"e Production code. Mr. De lira e.x-
?Aars Forum News, February, 1956
plained also that once the Production
Code Administration has denied a
code seal to a picture, the producer
has a right to appeal to the board of
directors of the Motion Picture Association, composed of the presidents of
these companies, "whose judgment
about entertainment is motivated to a
good extent by economic necessity,
and consequently are pretty careful
judges. And in this instance they upheld the Production Code Administration," he said. Also, there is nothing to
preclude the producer of this picture
from releasing his film to the exhibitors, without approval, although he
would be taking certain financial risks.
OPPOSITION TO STATE CENSORSHIP
Moving from the discussion of the
voluntary production code to that of
state censorship, Mr. Buckley and Mr.
Combs both voiced their strong opposition to such laws. According to Mr.
Buckley, "We ought always to resist
the temptation to let the state do our
work for us: (A) because it implies
giving additional coercive authority to
the state, which, as a libertarian, I disapprove of; and (B) because the state
is not as sensitive as individual human
beings are to various shades and distinctions and innuendoes which ought
to be taken into account. Therefore
it's infinitely better to have a private
organization and private individuals
exercise their own judgment."
Although agreeing on opposition to
censorship laws, Mr. Combs and Mr.
Buckley sharply disagreed over the
merits of privately organized boycotts.
The latter approved of a voluntary
boycott, or action of the kind that an
enraged society "ought occasionally to
take to curb people who refuse to discipline themselves . . .," that is, producers who affront society.Mr.Combs,
on the other hand, expressed disap-
val of any form of boycott if i
ized, branding it "outrageous, indefensible in every respect."
Mr. Buckley asked of Mr. Combs,
"Would you go so far as to condemn
the Anti-Defamation League for boycotting an anti-Semitic movie? For example, certain scenes from 'Oliver
"I think they are wrong to boycott,"
replied Mr. Combs. "It would seem to
me that it would depend entirely upon
the spirit animating them, and I question very seriously whether any social
group is justified in organizing what
is an economic weapon. When you
come right down to it, that's what
Conversely, Mr. Buckley observed
that it is up to the individual whether
or not to observe the boycott. Also, he
expressed doubt that the Anti-Defamation League has any coercive authority over the Jews patronizing controversial movies, but thought they
have the right to point out such
movies, and to urge Jewish people not
to patronize them.
AFFECTS BOX OFFICE
Also opposed to state censorship of
moving pictures. Professor Hodges had
the further observation to make that
state censorship is an impossible situation in a union of 48 states. What it
actually does is possibly to tip the balance of judgment so that a few states
can really affect the whole success of
a given movie by denying permission
for its showing and disagreeing with
very respectable organizations. In regard to privately organized boycott.
Sir. Hodges expressed again his very
firm opposition, labeling it "collective
control" of his freedom.
Taking a more intermediary stand
between the two extremes of opinion
regarding group boycotts, guest panelist De Bra went back to the workings
(Continued on Page 63)