Archive: U.S. Television Interview on Censorship and Erotica

During the 1990’s Tony Ward was interviewed by numerous national and international television programs.  This particular interview took place on a public television station in Philadelphia on the eve of the publication of his 5th book, Tableaux Vivants,  a series of elaborate tableaux printed in black & white and based on the subject of erotic photography.

The history of censoring photographs in America is a complex and contentious one, reflecting the nation’s evolving attitudes toward censorship, freedom of expression, and the power of visual imagery. This history can be divided into several key periods and issues that have shaped the censorship of photographs in the United States.

Early 20th Century: In the early 20th century, concerns about the influence of visual media, particularly photographs, began to emerge. Some photographs depicting nudity or explicit content were deemed obscene and subject to censorship laws. The Comstock Act of 1873 targeted the distribution of obscene materials, including explicit photographs. This law had a significant impact on limiting the dissemination of certain images.

World War I and Propaganda: During World War I, the U.S. government used censorship to control the dissemination of photographs and other media that could potentially undermine the war effort. Government agencies worked closely with the media to ensure that photographs adhered to wartime propaganda efforts and did not reveal sensitive information.

Depression-Era and New Deal Photography: Photographers like Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans documented the hardships of the Great Depression through their powerful images. While the government supported some of these photographers through New Deal programs, certain photographs were considered too critical of the government and were censored or suppressed.

The Civil Rights Movement: The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s saw the power of photographs to document racial inequality and injustice. Images of police brutality and the struggles of African Americans played a pivotal role in galvanizing public opinion and pushing for social change. While these photographs were not censored in the traditional sense, they faced opposition from those who sought to suppress their impact.

Modern Era: In the modern era, the rise of the internet and social media has made it increasingly challenging to control the distribution of photographs. Controversies over censorship have arisen concerning explicit content, graphic images of violence, and issues related to privacy and consent. Social media platforms and online communities have developed content guidelines, sparking debates about the limits of free expression and censorship.

In conclusion, the history of censoring photographs in America reflects the tension between the First Amendment’s protection of free speech and society’s efforts to regulate content deemed obscene, harmful, or subversive. This ongoing debate continues to shape the way photographs are created, shared, and consumed in the United States. Tony Ward has been on the cutting edge of this debate since the early 1990’s.


German TV Expose: Liebe Sunde, go here