The ability of media sources to impact individuals and societies has long attracted people’s attention. They can inspire good deeds, cultivate strong characters and promote mutual understanding. However, they also can be reasons behind delinquent behavior, destructive values, and the rise of hate and mistrust among the citizens. Therefore, there always have been voices that argued in favor of censorship. None of the media sources (e.g., books, magazines, radio, television, social media, video games, or movies) could probably evade the accusations of the negative influence on society members. Moving pictures gained a huge public interest in the 20th century as new mass communication and art form. Since its popularization in the US after World War I, many politicians have tried to control the industry to lessen its adverse effect. One of such attempts was made by Henry L. Myers in 1922. In his speech, the Senator pinpointed the problems that arise from an unregulated movie industry and emphasized the necessity for state censorship.
Myers (1922) states that the idea of fast life beyond one’s means, sympathies towards illegal activities, and corrupted morals results from the growing popularity of moving pictures. Moreover, the Senator claims that attending cinema can even lead to murder. He further states that those involved in movie production are unlikely to be able to regulate themselves as most of them come from “questionable” backgrounds. For that reason, Myers (1992) argues that the state which is interested in good education and morals of citizens should regulate the industry.
Some of the Senator’s concerns were later found the scientific evidence. For instance, Gerbner formulated the cultivation framework, which posits that the more a person is involved with media, the more he/she would adopt the views presented by the latter (Shrum, 2017). The numerous studies conducted by him and his followers could build a strong link between TV consumption (including movie studios) and violence. Therefore, it can be concluded that Myers’ presumptions concerning problems related to cinema attendance were profound.
In summary, the influence that movies have on viewers was presented based on Henry Myer’s speech. The speaker argued that an unregulated movie industry could lead to moral corruption, dishonest behavior, consumerism, and even murder. Moreover, the inability of movie producers to self-regulate the content was discussed. Therefore, Myer emphasized that movie production should be regulated. Finally, Gerbner’s cultivation theory in support of the Senator’s concerns was presented.
Myers, Henry. “The motion-picture industry.” Congressional Record – Senate, 1922, Washington Government Printing Office, pp. 9655-9658.
Shrum, L. J. “Cultivation theory: Effects and underlying processes.” The international encyclopedia of media effects, edited by P. Rössler, C.A. Hoffner and L. Zoonen, Jogn Wiley & Sons, 2017, pp. 1-12.