Date of Defense
Date of Graduation
“Free speech empowers creators to entertain and inform, to challenge and inspire. Copyright ensures creators can benefit from their works and protects against piracy. Combined, these fundamental rights enable creators to thrive and bring great stories to global audiences.”
-Motion Picture Association of America
Censorship occurs when work is deemed “obscene” to a certain age group. However, this definition of obscenity is entirely relative. The American film industry uses the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating system to assess what age group is allowed to see certain content. Other countries have alternative rating systems that apply to different age groups. As an artist, I explore those international rules.
While we live in a world moving towards globalization, cultural relativism is still a concept that is present in everyday life. I discovered this when I studied abroad in the summer before my senior year. Since it was my first time in a foreign country, I was exposed to an entirely different culture than my learned American one. Even casual practices like watching movies is a different experience because of the things that are censored. This got me thinking about the variation of rating systems that are in place for each individual country. I exhibit my research as a grid; it is a visualization of a spreadsheet, a standard tool used to compile data. By displaying my images this way, I accentuate how this work is a research-based project. The opacity of the images echoes the visibility of the available data about international censorship.
Value systems get interpreted by organizations in an attempt to have a standardized film classification system. Its purpose is to help parents determine whether or not a movie is age-appropriate for their child. This varies in each country because culture is diverse. By exploring these cultures and what is deemed appropriate, we get a better understanding of why decisions for censorship might be made. Everyone is different, and regulations of censorship might contribute to that.
As an objective researcher, I display information about obscenity. As a subjective artist, I have my own definition of obscenity. Someone else may have their own as well, and that may or may not be the same as mine. And that’s okay. But I know obscenity when I see it
Wellman, Grace, "I Know It When I See It" (2020). Honors Theses. 3313.
Honors Thesis-Open Access