WWI, there was increased pressure from the public to institute some
type of censorship or government regulations. A lot of this was due
to the public's conception of a wild and scandalous Hollywood, after
the unsolved murder of director William Desmond Taylor and a starlet
after an orgy involving Fatty Arbuckle.
the early 20s, 8 states and several cities passed their own censorship
1922, to avoid government involvement, the Motion Picture Producers
and Distributors of America hired Will H. Hays, who had been the Postermaster
General and was President Warren G. Harding's brilliant campaign manager.
this settled the public outcry, but after several years of no real
change, the public began to again apply pressure for change. In 1930,
the Hays office introduced the Motion Picture Production Code listing
all the things that could not be shown or implied.
nothing changed, so in 1932 a resolution was introduced into the U.S.
Senate to investigate the motion picture industry.
the investigation started putting pressure on the industry, in 1934,
the Catholic Church formed the Legion of Decency to boycott any film
that didn't use the Production Code as a guideline.
the MPPDA gave in. A Code Seal was developed and the members of the
MPPDA agreed not to release or distribute any film that didn't carry
that seal. A $25,000 penalty was institued for any picture that did
not receive the Code Seal.
provided a self censorship that eliminated the public outcries for
1945, Hays retired and handed the reigns over to a former head of
the United States Chamber of Commerce, Eric Johnston. Shortly after
the name was changed to the Motion Picture Association of America.
was Johnston who, beginning in the 1950s, first had to grapple with
television, opposing the trade restrictions that were being proposed
by nations around the world. With all the changes, the Production
Code approval system was basically abandoned. Johnston preached free
trade policies that would enable Hollywood to move its filmed and
video products into every country around the globe.
Johnston died in August of 1963. Ralph Hetzel served as interim head
until 1966, when the Hollywood studios persuaded then White House
assistant, Texan Jack Valenti, to take the job.
were problems almost immediately after Valeni took office. Public
ethics had changed and studios were challenging the list of do's and
don't's trying to keep profits up in a poor economy. Studios were
simply distributing films that didn't make the Production Seal guidelines
to smaller subsidiary distributors.
weeks, discussions of a plan for a movie rating system began with
the president of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO)
and with the governing committee of the International Film Importers
& Distributors of America (IFIDA), an assembly of independent
producers and distributors.
took 5 months to develop, but by November 1, 1968, the birth of the
new voluntary film rating system of the motion picture industry was
announced, with three organizations, NATO, MPAA, and IFIDA, as its
monitoring and guiding groups. See Ratings
headed the MPAA waging political battles protecting the movie studios
until he retired in 1996.