Bonner Online-Bibliographie zur Comicforschung
Park, David: "The Kefauver Comic Book Hearings as Show Trial. Decency, Authority and the Dominated Expert." In: Cultural Studies 16 (2002), S. 259–288.
|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Park2002a
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Keywords: Comic-Industrie, Kulturpolitik, USA, Wertham. Fredric
Collection: Cultural Studies
The advent of comic books in the late 1930s almost immediately prompted an outcry over what many critics found to be their vulgar content. In the 1940s, psychiatrist Fredric Wertham entered this enduring debate with his many articles in popular periodicals and his popular book Seduction of the Innocent. Wertham added professional warrant to long-standing decency concerns; he translated the issue into a psychiatric problem and found comic books to be a cause of juvenile delinquency. With juvenile delinquency thusly introduced, comic books garnered substantial critical attention. A Senate subcommittee, spearheaded by Senator Estes Kefauver, was charged with the task of investigating the effects of comic books. This subcommittee’s hearings were shaped profoundly by the interests of the comic book industry and the subcommittee itself. Expert testimony, especially that of Wertham himself, was used as a way of granting legitimacy to the conclusions of the subcommittee, even though those conclusions proposed an industry self-censorship code – the Comic Book Code – that Wertham believed to be counterproductive. This study examines the authoritative voice of Fredric Wertham and the symbolic politics of the Kefauver comic book hearings, with a particular emphasis on how the interests of the comic book publishers made a self-censorship code an almost predetermined outcome. Media decency crusades follow a script that has certain circumscribed roles for each part in the drama. While experts are important and perhaps even necessary for the creation, legitimation and resolution of such crusades, they occupy a dominated place in the debate – able to reach, but not grasp, the process that shapes the policies that are devised.
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