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Prohibited by law or by official rules. --AHD

How we are left to guess at the legality of films

from http://www.cinebizarre.com/essay_obspor.htm [Dec 2004]

In America a movie can only be outlawed if it is obscene. Unfortunately that term is largely undefined in law so there's no way to tell for sure what the heck is permitted or forbidden.

I am not a radical, revolutionary or criminal. If the government ever issues a list of the titles of all forbidden films I wouldn't carry anything on the list. But there is no list.

Fortunately, I am only interested in carrying interesting movies with genuine artistic or political value. The small percentage of movies on this site that include any explicit sexual activity have been affirmatively selected on the basis of artistic merit. That's not an after-the-fact dodge, it's the purpose of this site in the first place.

All obscene works must be utterly lacking in artistic merit. Since everything here has some artistic value I should never have to worry about obscenity laws, right? If only it were that simple! Near as I can tell the state of the law allows for legal battles over the definition of "art." It's all perfectly absurd, particularly to anyone has ever made a scholarly study of the arts. I have spent my life working with art, writing about art and making art yet I have no idea what the legal definition of art might be.

Artistry aside, it seems that if a work evokes a healthy interest in sex, a normal lust, it cannot be obscene under the 1985 reasoning of the Supreme Court in Brocket v. Spokane Arcades. That would be a great help if I knew what constitutes a "healthy" or "normal" interest but again, there's no real definition and I don't know what somebody else thinks is normal.

I wish to stay on the right side of the law but I am left to rely on my own educated lay understanding of the law informed by my more extensive knowledge of film history and aesthetics. (And of course my conception of "healthy lust.")

I see five general categories of explicit film and have made a decision that the first two are clearly legal and are indispensable parts of any broad selection of quirky movies, while deciding to not carry anything from the last three categories even if it seems otherwise meritorious: --http://www.cinebizarre.com/essay_obspor.htm [Dec 2004]

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