History of Censorship in Spain: So Close to Now

He had not finished reading it, though the censor was already guessing at the audacity of the play he was possessing. It was about a love affair between two women, but what really upset Emilio Morales de Acevedo – theater critic for Brand– The existential stench that emanated from some of the dialogues. The two other censors who examined the script did not notice the lesbian drama it raised I hate that?Although they agreed that the author, who was Rafael Rosselló, would have to curb his doubts and rewrite the work, if he wanted to premiere it at the beginning of the next year, 1950.

los Latest cases of censorship They have revived a debate about political control and the use of culture that takes us back to the times we thought were over. The problem is complex by its nature It is rooted in the threshold of our memory. As old as the arts and literature, censorship has been an unavoidable shadow of culture. Plain or diffuse, changeable according to the time clock and date, it boasts fantastic last names (political, religious, moral, aesthetic…) and encourages its ancestors to happily transmit the final truths, like the one who hands out candy to children. for our ancient ancestors had already ascertained the ineffectiveness of censorship without the support of propaganda and a set of reasons which, more than anything else, justified the stability of their governments.

Censorship added a tie to the neckline of Sarah Montel’s dress at one of the Venice Festival’s concerts

It’s hard to tell something so old, Institution or custom?, which crossed the centuries to do essentially the same thing in societies that had little to do with one another. To make matters worse, Censorship is messy and has a good wardrobe with trend-setting clothes. Occasions, mentalities, and even the meaning of freedom changeThus, it is difficult to compare the excesses of the Inquisition with the firmness of the Enlightenment. Nor are their contours clear when the practice of criticism, cultural and liberating policies, even inertia or market direction have effects similar to censorship: uniformity, complacency, intellectual and artistic impoverishment, melancholy, outbursts, yawns…

Sergi Torricella (left) and Xavier Puppis at 'El mar.  A vision of some children they have never seen before, by Alberto Conigero and Xavier Pubis, whose authors denounce its abolition in the town of Previsca, Burgos.
Sergi Torricella (left) and Xavier Puppis at ‘El mar. A vision of some children they have never seen before, by Alberto Conegero and Xavier Pubis, whose authors denounce its abolition in the town of Previsca, Burgos.David Ruano (TNC)

As a society, what kind of shadow are we casting at any given moment? The answer is ambiguous, like the censorship itself, but it is easier to shed light on the topic from some perspective. Rare is the time when censorship did not appear in Spain. In addition, this country has the dubious fortune of having recent experience of what happens when it settles for decades in the heart of the state and its laws, in its leaders and subordinates, and in the daily lives of the majority. It has been 84 years since the last prior censorship regulation. The order of July 15, 1939 wanted to guarantee the political and moral education of the Spaniards by subjecting literature, cinema and musical compositions to the “zealous and constant intervention” of the Francoist state. Since last year, censorship has been operating under the provisions of the Serrano Suñere Press Code, which imposed the regression of newspapers and their compliance with mandatory listing slogans, with the aim of creating a collective conscience inspired by fascist values. The deviation of the regime to approach the Allied powers led to the abandonment of the totalitarian cultural project which, however, did not find a real alternative to Franco. Instead, the dictatorship was content to suppress inappropriate speech.

Variable and opaque censorship

The interesting thing about the previous censorship that governed culture designs until 1966 is that they were not homogeneous or transparent. And the creators ignored its foundations, learned to foresee them and take care not to prejudice the interests of the state, the church hierarchy, the moral code of national Catholicism, the ideological adhesive of the victors. The task of the censor is not exhausted in judging the content of the works, but is deputed to evaluate their formal qualities. For this reason, although not bypassing the aesthetic conservatism that defended the dictatorship, Pilar Milan Astray or Adolfo Torrado – cinematographers who never suspected dissatisfaction; Today, he is theatrically dispensable – lacking the respect of the censors who justified their deplorable act with the legitimate aim of raising the country’s artistic and cultural standard.

Specifically, the live nature of the performing arts complicated its relationship to censorship, as the authorized text would be performed over and over again, in different contexts and in front of different audiences. Preventing public order disturbances included enabling a wide range of Recreation inspectors who did the surveillanceIn both cities and towns, performers transgress, either altering the authorized version of the work, or displaying vulgar gestures and costumes. The censorship at that time acquired the face and will of hundreds of officials, volunteers, presidents, religious people and citizens without a general or private blemish in their files. Out of conviction, inertia, or ignorance, they acted vaguely, that is, according to subjective interpretation of what was not written. Faced with such arbitrary standards, how did the creators communicate with the audience? Antonio Boero Vallejo chose to negotiate with the censors, if in doing so he succeeded in preserving the message of his theater. On the contrary, Alfonso Sastre refused to enter into a dialogue which he thought was cheating and gave up the possibility of his release.

Playwright Alfonso Sastre is a victim of censorship.
Playwright Alfonso Sastre is a victim of censorship.Bernardo Perez

At the dawn of the sixties, Even those loyal to their leader Note the need to cancel prior censorship. The Spanish economic miracle in the making will find more supporters who advocate a certain openness. the The Press and Printing Act 1966 boasted of false liberalism because, in practice, that shadow persisted in the minds of creators and producers who, rightly, feared that increasingly reluctant and angry censors would pounce on the work about to be released. acclaimed control standards They finally saw the light of day in 1963, although they hardly changed in relation to the previous decades. What has changed are the intentions of those who set out to reclaim the liberal heritage of their predecessors, in search of pluralism and a richness of thought without labels, that far exceeded the narrowness of the rigid political and social order, and the sensitivity to difference.

The suffering of Franco’s censorship was painful for its supporters. His anxiety struggled in vain with a cultural neurotic eager to free himself and enjoy his 40-something majority. The sign of the times—the dictator is now dead—and the upheaval of a powerful group of artists, writers, and journalists reduced censorship to the category of serious annoyance, then laughing stock, for those who now felt powerful and confident. In 1977, he made history.

But let’s go back to the fall of 1949. That author, Rafael Rosselló, admitted the omissions and corrections that the censors asked of him. The truth is that his work, even as it was rewritten, continued to speak of an impossible love and in words that are not at all optimistic. The censors didn’t talk any further, until actress Joseta Hernán managed the premiere I hate that? In Alicante and Zaragoza, to the bewilderment of the public and critics of the local press, aware of what they witnessed: everyone, creators, intellectuals, businessmen, critics and spectators, knew that censorship was not infallible, but that defects of this caliber were extraordinary. However, the event did not stand out, perhaps because fear still amplified the community’s vulnerable legacy.

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