Defying The Censors

There is a time when an artist chooses to be subtle and work at Getting Crap Past the Radar to avoid trouble. Sometimes however, there are times when the artist walks up to the Censorship Bureau's face to deliver a metaphorical "Screw You" and present his work regardless.

When the work in question is worth the effort, especially if it is hailed as an artistic masterpiece, or the larger society has changed enough in its values to agree with the artist, then this can be a Moment Of Awesome as taboos are shattered and freedom of expression has a victory. Of course, it can also backfire and get the author in a lot of trouble.

Compare with Getting Crap Past the Radar (in which the creators still defy the censors, but do it on an underhanded level).


Anime and Manga
  • To Love-Ru Darkness seems to be written with this goal in mind, upping the Fanservice in response to Moral Guardians protesting such works. It's telling that the recap chapter was six color pages of Fanservice from the previous series. Among the most well-known examples is a spread wherein a vagina is obscured by a faucet, but in another panel is clearly visible in the reflections of said faucet.
  • The 2011 animated version of Dororon Enma-kun was pushed for by Go Nagai specifically in response to the new draconian anti-Anime laws in Tokyo. Go Nagai being, of course, the "Father of Ecchi", and his legendary fighting back against Japan's version of The Comics Code created the entire Ecchi genre in Japanese manga and anime. The animated version retains the original's high fetish and nudity content, and swaps out the main male lead for a female version just so they can add additional fanservice.

Comic Books

  • The producers of the classic films The Pawnbroker and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? did this when they successfully appealed to The Hays Code board of governors and made them bend to the inclusion of artistically necessary nudity and harsh language respectively, with the excuse of them being "special exceptions".
  • MGM when it outright defied the Hays Code and released Blowup despite the censors' attempts to stop it, to great critical and box office success.
  • With Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, there is a rumor that this film was not passed for release because Janet Leigh's nipple (or more accurately, that of her body double) was visible during the shower scene. Hitchcock made no changes and merely sent it back, assuming that nobody at the Hays Office would bother to watch it.
  • Otto Preminger famously released The Moon Is Blue in 1953 without Hays Office approval, and had to do the same with The Man with the Golden Arm. (Both films received belated Code approval in 1961.) Preminger had to pressure the censors to pass Anatomy of a Murder, whose dialogue on the subject of rape was fairly explicit for its time. He leaned on the censors to allow lines such as "fight like hell" in Carmen Jones and "screw the captain" in In Harm's Way.
  • Producer David O. Selznick insisted that the famous line "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" had to be included in the final cut of Gone with the Wind. The censors relented, but not without slapping a $5,000 fine on Selznick.

  • Dave Barry had lots of fun in his columns at the censor's expense. When he arrived at the subject of breastfeeding, he had this to say:
    I checked with an editor, and he said I could say "breast" as long as I used it scientifically, rather than to arouse prurient interest. For example, I could say "two breasts plus two breasts equals four breasts," but I could not say: "Hey, get a load of that breast."

Live-Action TV
  • One of the first (if not the first) time the word "ass" was used on US TV was by Jimmy Stewart, in a poem he read on The Tonight Show.
    Lake Barengo is a body of water whose surface is smooth as glass
    But getting to Lake Barengo is a genuine pain in the ass.
    • After the taping, the NBC Censor called up the producer.
    Censor: I heard that someone said "ass" on the show. You know, that's not allowed.
    Producer: Before you say "that's not allowed," let me tell you who said it: Jimmy Stewart.
    Censor: Oh, Jimmy Stewart said it? That's OK then.
  • Shake It Up: In "Give It Up", Mrs. Loccasio mentions that she used to dance as a Vegas showgirl in her birthday suit.
    • From the same episode:
      Deuce: FYI, Seraphina told me couture means fancy clothes. I thought it meant lady parts.
  • A lot of Dan Schneider shows do this in general. While he excels at Getting Crap Past the Radar, there are some things that he could not possibly have believed would escape the censors' notice. (Example: Victorious had an episode where the students slept over at Sikowitz's house. Keep in mind: They are high school students and Sikowitz is their teacher.)
  • When The Doors were on The Ed Sullivan show, they were told they couldn't sing the line "Girl, we couldn't get much higher". Jim Morrison did anyway, getting them banned from the show from then on. The incident appears in the Biopic as a Moment Of Awesome. Allegedly, this was actually because Morrison was extremely nervous and forgot to change the lyric, not because of any rebellious intent.
  • In 2003, the Rascal Flatts got into some controversy for their music video "I Melt" due to some nudity and sensuality. Rather than edit the video in order to fit the sensibilities of the country music channels, they kept their video as it was, saying they were satisfied with it.

Newspaper Comics
  • Bill Amend says that words like "sucks" are a big no-no for newspapers, so it's fun to occasionally make them central to a strip's joke so that they can't be easily edited out.

  • The Howard Stern Show blatantly baited the FCC, costing radio stations that carried it millions of dollars in fines.

Video Games
  • In-Universe example: In Fallen London (where you have Victorian-era ideals of decency), a couple mid-level Persuasive storylets involve this, especially notable if you have or want Bohemian connections; you can help a poet friend get his banned work republished and organize readings of banned poetry. If you fail, it raises your Scandal meter.

Western Animation
  • Also, there's an entry on Histeria's Getting Crap Past the Radar section that might fit, where they actually got "Damn the torpedoes!" into the daytime children's cartoon. There's no way the censors overlooked that, so it fits much more with this trope.
  • The Simpsons: Invoked by Bart when his boy band has a gig at Springfield Elementary.
    Bart: Hello, Springfield! Now, here's a song that your principal Skinner doesn't want us to play.
    (audience boos)
    Skinner: That's not true! This assembly was my idea. I like your brand of inoffensive pop-rock.
  • Alex Hirsch, creator of Gravity Falls, compares working at a censored place like Disney to "trying to paint a picture while a chimp constantly hits you in the head with a wiffle bat". In this metaphor, the "chimp" is a "network censor" and the "bat" is "arbitrary concerns which justify their job position." Let's face it, it's not easy to get things like eating children and summoning demons past Disney.