Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mocking The Pieties Of Politics, Religion And Popular Culture

Before there were subversive blogs people read subversive comic books, especially young people. There is one thing that hasn’t changed over the last fifty or so years, Congress was filled with its share of idiots back then, just like today.

From The pictures that horrified America by Todd Leopold:

Hajdu, who wrote "Positively Fourth Street" about the early-'60s folk music scene, observes that when we think of postwar pop-cultural rebellion, what comes to mind is rock 'n' roll and Marlon Brando. But comic books, he notes, came first. Hundreds of millions sold every month, at 10 cents a throw.

"Everybody read comic books. They were the most popular form of entertainment in America," he said.

The fact that such entertainment was primarily aimed at children and teens raised the ire of authorities, including social scientists, newspaper columnists and political leaders. These works, they believed, were causing crime and degeneracy. They had to be stopped.

Towns hosted bonfires to rid themselves of comics; congressional hearings about the issue helped burnish the image of Tennessee's Estes Kefauver, who had led hearings against organized crime.
I’m not sure what comic books had to do with organized crime. Estes Kefauver sounds like my kind of guy in this respect:
Carey Estes Kefauver (July 26, 1903 – August 10, 1963) was an American politician from Tennessee who opposed the concentration of U.S. economic and political power under the control of a wealthy, exclusive elite.
However, I can’t help but wonder about his thoughts on freedom of speech:
The Comics Code Authority (CCA) is part of the Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA), and was created to regulate the content of comic books in the United States. Member publishers submit comic books to the CCA, which screens them for conformance to its Comics Code, and authorizes the use of their seal on the cover if the books comply. At the height of its influence, it was a de facto censor for the U.S. comic book industry.

The CCA was created in 1954 as part of the CMAA in response to public concern about what was deemed inappropriate material in many comic books. This included graphic depictions of violence and gore in crime and horror comics, as well as the sexual innuendo of what aficionados refer to as good girl art. Dr. Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent rallied opposition to this type of material in comics, arguing that it was harmful to the children who made up a large segment of the comic book audience. Senate subcommittee hearings led by Estes Kefauver had many publishers concerned about government regulation, prompting them to form a self-regulatory body instead.
Some of this I had heard of before, but most of it is new to me. Fascinating.

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