Portland's Battle to get Rid of "Unfair" Censorship

On July 16 1916 a censorship battle began in Portland with the hope to secure “fair and unprejudiced” censorship of the motion pictures that were being presented in the state at the time. This campaign was opened by the Oregon Motion Picture Mens Association. Petitions where the main way the association worked to get the larger theaters in the area to back the campaign, and once this occurred the petitions were sent to the city commissioners of Portland. The main goal was to grant “theatre men” the right to appeal to the courts if they content was being censored in a specific local area. This group of men believed that the current conditions were “un-American and intolerable”, and at the time of this article being posted, they believed that they would be able to secure 50,000 names to back their cause.

This article is a small sample of the grand story of censorship in Portland in the early 1900s. During this time, Portland was expiring an economic boom, which brought people into the area and grew the population. Also during this time, the film industry was taking off and because this new found population was looking for new leisure activities such as a new Amusement park in the area called Oaks Amusement park, film became a big part of the culture in the city. Because of the popularity of the theaters, local city governments needed to censor the content being put out in masses, so they applied very strict censorship laws and rules. Obviously this had an impact on some of the film makers and actors careers if they content was deemed inappropriate, so battles like this took place in order to maximize the profits being made by film makers. The most interesting aspect of this censorship fight back is that it has no mention of how women would play a role in it, are the Oregon Motion Picture Mens Association just fighting or the rights of all actors to protest their contents censorship, or are they fighting for the rights of just men to do so, judging by the wording of this article, it seems to be the ladder.

Works Cited:

Erickson, Mary P. “‘In the Interest of the Moral Life of Our City’: The Beginning of Motion Picture Censorship in Portland, Oregon.” Film History, vol. 22, no. 2, 2010, pp. 148–69. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2979/fil.2010.22.2.148. Accessed 21 May 2022.

“Fair Censorship is the Demand of Movie Picture Association” The Oregon Daily Journal July 6, 1916. p. 6.