Much like football and fresh apple pie, the cinema is an American pastime. It is rooted in the 20th century and has matured over the decades, mirroring the social and cultural growth of our nation. Compared to their precursors, contemporary films vary in content and target audience and convey a multitude of messages to viewers. But film would not demonstrate such variety without the cultural staple of our media, a constitutional right that is, in itself, an American pastime. Freedom of speech, as provided by the First Amendment, has fertilized the growth of cinema, and, in kind, the history of film has proven that free speech is easily applied to many media platforms, protective of controversial content, and accessible to all Americans, regardless of cultural background. The cinema is embedded in our nation’s history, driven by our passion for the motion picture and preserved by the inalienable rights provided by the First Amendment.
Speech as a Medium
The First Amendment explicitly protects freedom of press, religion, petition, assembly, and, of course, speech; it does not, for obvious reasons, reference motion pictures (“First Amendment,” n.d.). Fortunately, the term "speech" is vague enough to apply to multiple media platforms and is not limited merely to verbal or typographic communication. Freedom of speech, therefore, is moldable to every medium in existence, and because every medium has its strengths and limitations, free speech amplifies the constant exchange of ideas by allowing different mediums to coexist while under legal protection (Sterin, 2012, p. 22). For example, the malleability of free speech has allowed film, a visual medium, to be protected like the printed word, although doing so has proven to be a challeng...
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...scuss controversial issues, and provides minority voices the necessary tools to communicate. Film exemplifies these characteristics, which are, perhaps, the greatest benefits afforded to us by the First Amendment. Without the cinema, we would have one less viable method of expressing free speech, and our nation would be, at the very least, lacking in culture.
Barbas, S. (2012). How the movies became speech. Rutgers Law Review, 64(3), 665-745.
First Amendment. (n.d.). Legal Information Institute. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment
Hooks, B. (2009). Reel to Real: Race, Class and Sex at the Movies. New York: Routledge.
Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. (2013). Digital History. Retrieved November 18, 2013, from
Sterin, J. C. (2012). Mass Media Revolution. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
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