Week 12 Concept

How obscenity and pornography are restricted in media content, including these court decisions:  1973 Miller decision; 1988 Hustler magazine v. Falwell

By: Luke Rankin

Over time, obscenity and pornography have more progressively been accepted into our media. Obscenity and pornography draw viewers and get attention from the general public with controversy from one way or the other.

The 1973 Miller Decision comes from the case of Miller vs. the State of California. A man named Marvin Miller distributed illustrated advertisements for adult books to the public. One of the biggest arguments brought up in the court was that “freedom of speech” had no clear rulings against obscenities. The result was that the court created three basic rulings, clearly defining obscenities and anything that fell into the definition would not be allowed. Also, “hardcore pornography” was defined with two basic rules. By putting boundaries on obscenity and porn, the lines became less vague as to what would be acceptable and unacceptable by the media. This is one of the first cases on record for media restrictions relating to obscenity and pornography.

The second case being discussed in this concept is that of Hustler Magazine vs. Falwell. In this case, Falwell was depicting in a Hustler Magazine advertisement campaign and shown having what was described as his first time. Falwell was a minister and found what Hustler did to be extremely offensive. He took Hustler magazine to court and sued for $45 million dollars on the accounts of invasion of privacy, libel, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court ruled that because of first amendment rights, Falwell was not entitled to win the case. Although a parody may be offensive, it cannot be considered malicious.

My example is a video which comes from CNN.com. In my video, some students have directed a message to first lady Michelle Obama in protest of the new USDA lunch guidelines. The video is a parody of a Gotye song. This is just a very basic example of how parody’s exist with many different purposes, good and bad.


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