Additionally, as aggravating at the recent surge in vampire popularity might seem, it helps to know that the same popularity has been ebbing and flowing for more than a century. After the (arguably) first vampire story, The Vampyre, was written in 1819, a wave of vampire stories followed, including the penny dreadful story Varney the Vampire and a novel you may have heard of by Bram Stoker called Dracula. All of which never would have existed without an unapologetic willingness to steal a plot.
Arbitrary Ratings for "Adult" Content
We Think It Started With: The founding of the MPAA rating system in 1968.
As we've mentioned, the Motion Picture Association of America is responsible for sticking ratings on movies that go a long way toward determining how well those movies perform at the box office. Audiences and filmmakers alike have been complaining about the capriciousness of the system for more than 50 years, but they might quiet down about the issue if they learn how tyrannical censorship on productions used to be.
"Rated X? This is nothing less than fascism!"
It Actually Started: In the 1500s.
During Elizabeth's reign, England was in political turmoil. Bloody revolts and protests could spring up from anywhere, so the government enforced strict laws over the theater, since 3,000 people attending a play was more than enough to start a rebellion. Thus, the censorship board was born out of fear, and if you were a theater company at the time, the only thing worse than the rules were the punishments.
A no-cursing-allowed rap battle with Clay Aiken.
Under the eye of the government censors, theater troupes had to submit their scripts and have them approved before they could be performed. You know, to make sure the play wasn't morally tantalizing or overtly violent or contained any controversial political themes. In an ironic twist, the punishments for writers who didn't follow the censorship guidelines were insanely violent and included torture or mutilation.
Not only did this early MPAA terrify writers and bore audiences, it also was responsible for massive gaps in the literary history. Historians believe there are likely plays by both Ben Jonson and Shakespeare that don't exist today because they couldn't get past the censors and so never went into print.
In fact, after a performance of Jonson's play The Isle of Dogs, which was a satirical attack on Elizabeth's court, all London stages were shut down for almost a year. That meant that for months, the people of London basically had no means of entertainment to distract them from their shitty, plague-infected lives. We have to wonder if taking away their fun was really such a great way to avoid a bloody revolution from the peasants. Then again, if we know people, they found other sources for their banned content. It is the one enduring law of entertainment: Porn always finds a way.
Read more from D. McCallum here.
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