[Censorship of the motion pictures "Le Ronde" and "M"]

Saturday, January 23, 1954

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes discusses the Supreme Court ruling regarding the censorship of "Le Ronde" and "M." They found that state censorship boards could not ban the movies based on the argument that they were immoral. He criticizes another person who argued that trying to define immoral is like trying to define red. Seldes believes that you can define "red," because it is what most people agree is red. The ethical difficulties of defining morality is more difficult - it varies between individuals and changes over time.

Seldes notes the return of Elmer Davis to the air - a short television show and a radio program. He mentions Davis' book "But We Were Born Free" and his discussion of freedom of the press. He discusses the role of the journalist in the interpretation of news. What is the obligation of a news organization to print possibly slanderous allegations. He notes the "shirt tails" of stories, which may be salacious and irrelevant. The old standard of purely factual journalism is no longer enough. He discusses Davis' dislike of ex-radicals, who now are acting intellectuals of society.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 71504
Municipal archives id: LT3087

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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