Sex and Violence: The Hollywood Censorship Wars, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sex and Violence

The Hollywood Censorship Wars, 1st Edition

By Tom Pollard


256 pages

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Sex and Violence examines the history and social dynamics of film censorship in the United States. It examines censorship controversies throughout film history, from the beginning of cinema in the 1890s to the present. The book focuses both on formal censorship systems, including state and local censorship boards and industry self-regulation efforts, to unofficial censorship rendered by pressure groups and powerful social movements. It probes beneath the official rhetoric and explanations, revealing sensitive, festering controversies. The book critically examines dozens of Hollywood's most controversial (and interesting) movies, focusing on recurring issues and censorship themes. The book reveals the social and political processes of vetting films and their effect on film form and content. In addition, it examines the use of sexuality and violence in movies and the effects of movie censorship on those issues. Finally, it analyzes and makes recommendations for dramatic changes in motion picture ratings.


"Pollard is brilliant in depicting unofficial forms of censorship, including what he calls the ‘McCarthy Code’ (Cold War censorship via HUAC and blacklists) and the ‘Evangelical Code’ (recent protests by ‘values voters’ and support of films such as The Passion of the Christ, 2004.) An eloquent writer on these issues, Pollard stands on the liberal side of the debate. The book includes an annotated filmography and well-printed illustrations. Recommended."


“Tom Pollard’s Sex and Violence is a rigorous and comprehensive examination of the hidden history of film censorship in the U.S. Essential reading for anyone who believes in freedom of expression in the arts.”

—Kirby Dick, filmmaker and Director of This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

“Not only does Sex and Violence: The Hollywood Censorship Wars provide a comprehensive and interesting history of censorship in the film industry, but the book also provides an insightful examination of the social, political, moral and ethical issues of this very public industry.

—Barbara Boyle, Producer and Chair, UCLA Department of Film, Television and Digital Media

“Tom Pollard is a perceptive commentator with a masterly command of film history. This book is both enjoyable and highly informative, a smoothly written romp through decades of Hollywood censorship, strongly recommended to all readers concerned about America’s culture wars.”

—Michael Parenti, author of Contrary Notions and Make-Believe Media

Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction to Movie Censorship; Production Codes Defined; Hidden Codes; Code Wars; Censorship; Sex; Violence; Religion and Politics; Gender Roles; Creating the Couple; Court Rulings; Chapter Two: Pre-Code Hollywood; Penny Arcades; Nickelodeons; National Board of Censorship; Nineteen Teens; Twenties; 1920s Production Codes; Classic Gangsters; Gender Roles; Creating the Couple; Chapter Three: Hays Production Code; Pre-Code; Don'ts and Be Carefuls; Boycott; Hays Code; Screwball Comedy; Broadway; Hays Code Detectives; Westerns; Gangsters; Film Noir; Social Problems; Defiance; Supreme Court; Nuanced Westerns; Youth Rebellion; Catholic Boycott; Code Evasion; Gender Roles; Creating the Couple; Chapter Four: The McCarthy Code; Isolationism; Why We Fight; Social Problems; Film Noir; Table of contents.

About the Series

Media and Power

Media and Power is a series that publishes work uniting media studies with studies of power.

This innovative and original series features books that challenge, even transcend, conventional disciplinary boundaries, construing both media and power in the broadest possible terms. At the same time, books in the series are designed to fit into several different types of college courses in political science, public policy, communication, journalism, media, history, film, sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies.

Intended for the scholarly, text, and trade markets, the series should attract authors and inspire and provoke readers.

Learn more…

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