This is a blog about curse words… or it could also be called “Times have sure changed!’.
In 1897, the state of Maine enacted a statute that banned boxing from being shown in films. Then, in 1915, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case that held that there could be censorship in films because they were considered commerce and not art; which meant that there were no free speech first amendment protection.
Wikipedia provides an interesting listing of the various content that was disallowed in early films. (here) Such censorship ranged from language and subject matter, to content that still would not be allowed today.
The Motion Picture Production Code was drawn up by a Republican lawyer/former Postmaster General by the name of Will H. Hays. He prepared guidelines for filmmakers to assist in what would become standards of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. It was known as the Hays Code, which was enforced under the Hays Office or Board.
That brings me to the infamous movie Gone With The Wind. Prior to that movie, curse words were not allowed.
On November 1, 1939, an amendment was passed that would effect the dialogue of that movie. The amendment still recognized that using the words “hell” or “damn” were still not allowed unless their use “shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste.”
With that amendment, Scarlett O’Hara tearfully asked Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), “Where shall I go? What shall I do?”. With that, a nation was shocked when Butler uttered his last words to her, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn“. In 2005, that quotation was voted as the number one movie line of all time by the American Film Festival.
My how times have changed. I hope you have a great weekend!
And for our pic o’ day: