For individuals at all points on the political spectrum, and especially for those engaged in any form of expressive enterprise – from comic book illustrators, to film directors, to performance artists – censorship typically carries very negative connotations. Indeed, for many, censorship is the very antithesis of freedom and creativity. However, we can and should conceive of censorship more neutrally – simply as the imposition of constraints. On such a construal, censorship is not obviously always a Bad Thing. This point is crucial for any effective argument against particular instances of censorship. For, if we simply define censorship as something always to be rejected, then we have merely asserted what potential censors deny, and we have provided no reasons to reject censorship. Moreover, a neutral construal of censorship better allows us to grasp that there are different agents of censorship, that censorship can and does have a range of targets and motivations, and that (apparently paradoxically) constraints of some kind may well be part of the very creative enterprise itself. Here I shall be concerned only with censorship as it has affected and continues to affect film. Obviously, there is much else to be said about the censorship of the press, art and literature (see “Further Reading” in this chapter and “Pornography”).
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