Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Censorship. How Far Have We Come since FOREVER AMBER?
While many reviewers "praised the story for its relevance, comparing Amber's fortitude during the plague and fire to that of the women who held hearth and home together through the blitzes of World War II", others condemned it for its blatant sexual references. Fourteen U.S. states banned the book as pornography. The first was Massachusetts, whose attorney general cited 70 references to sexual intercourse, 39 illegitimate pregnancies, 7 abortions, and "10 descriptions of women undressing in front of men" as reasons for banning the novel. Winsor denied that her book was particularly daring, and said that she had no interest in explicit scenes. "I wrote only two sexy passages," Winsor remarked, "and my publishers took both of them out. They put in ellipsis instead. In those days, you know, you could solve everything with an ellipsis."
Despite, or perhaps because of its banning, Winsor's Forever Amber was the best-selling US novel of the 1940s. It sold over 100,000 copies in its first week of release, and went on to sell over three million copies. Amber became a popular girl's name.
The Catholic Church condemned the book for indecency, which no doubt added to its popularity. One critic went so far as to number each of the passages to which he objected. The film was finally completed after substantial changes to the script were made, toning down some of the book's most objectionable passages in order to appease Catholic media critics. The film was too long, repetitious and dull and suffers from its inability to detail the eroticism of the story due to 1940s censorship. The Motion Picture Production Code was the set of industry censorship guidelines which governed the production of the vast majority of United States motion pictures released by major studios from 1930 to 1968. It was originally popularly known as the Hays Code, after its creator, Will H. Hays.
A 21st Century movie would not suffer the same problems, but it would now have to tantalize a far more sophisticated audience.
Erotic novels also suffer the same problem, and maybe why they are delving more and more into subjects that were not too long ago, taboo. One might ask where do we go from here?
Sources: Wiki and Rotten Tomatoes
I write sensual historical romance where heroes meet their match in feisty heroines. Add a dash of adventure, a murder or two, a mystery or intrigue. What better time to set them than the Georgian, Regency and the late Victorian period on the brink of the 20th Century. The Regency was a time of both opulence and abject poverty. Of economic and social change: the Napoleonic wars, the power struggle for the Americas, and the Industrial revolution when people began to desert the country for the cities. Celebrity Lord Byron wrote dark romantic poetry, and Beau Brummell defined and shaped fashion into a period of simplistic elegance. Men abandoned brocades and lace for linen trousers, overcoats with breeches and boots, and women abandoned corsets for high wasted, thin gauzy dresses. A spend-thrift aesthete known for his scandalous affairs, George IV, the Prince of Wales was made Regent in 1811 after his father was declared too mad to rein. Prinny presided over the elegant society of the ton, the so called Upper Ten Thousand, who defined themselves by an incredibly formal etiquette code which set them apart from the rising middle class.