This issue of Projections focuses on movie violence, a topic of continuing controversy. Concerns about screen violence are not new. Because of their visceral power, popular appeal, and the seeming ease with which they bypassed established channels and norms of socialization, movies swiftly drew the attention and scorn of social critics and reformers. The city of Chicago passed the nation’s first movie censorship ordinance in 1907. Numerous state and municipal censor boards were established in its wake, and movie violence drove the first court-adjudicated censorship case in American film history. The James Boys in Missouri (1908) and Night Riders (1908) were Westerns that Chicago authorities deemed to be immoral because they concentrated on showing the exploits of violent outlaws. The Chicago reformers felt that the films lacked an appropriate moral balance in failing to devote sufficient attention to law-abiding characters.
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