Disciplining the screen through education: The Royal Commission into the moving picture industry in Australia

Dezuanni, Michael & Goldsmith, Ben (2015) Disciplining the screen through education: The Royal Commission into the moving picture industry in Australia. Studies in Australasian Cinema, 9(3), pp. 298-311.

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In this article, we investigate the complex relationship between concerns about children and young people’s exposure to cinema in 1920s Australia and the use of film in education. In part, the Royal Commission into the Moving Picture Industry in Australia aimed to ‘ascertain the effect and the extent of the power of film upon juveniles’ and Commissioners spoke to educationalists, psychologists, medical professions, police officers and parents to gain insight into the impacts of movies on children. Numerous issues were canvassed in the Commission hearings such as exposure to sexual content, ‘excesses’ in film content, children’s inability to concentrate at school following cinema attendance and the influence of cinema on youth crime. While the Commission ultimately suggested it was parents’ role to police children’s engagements with cinema, it did make recommendations for restricting children’s access to films with inappropriate themes. Meanwhile, the Commission was very positive about film’s educational role stating that ‘the advantage to be gained by the use of the cinematograph as an adjunct to educational methods should be assisted in every possible way by the Commonwealth’. We draw on the Commission’s minutes of evidence, the Commission report and newspaper articles form the 1920s to the 1940s to argue that the Commission provides valuable insight into the beginnings of the use of screen content in formal schooling, both as a resource across the curriculum and as a specific focus of education through film appreciation and, later, broader forms of media education. The article argues debates about screen entertainment and education rehearsed in the Commission are reflected today as parents, concerned citizens and educators ponder the dangers and potential of new media technologies and media content used by children and young people such as video games, social media and interactive content.

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ID Code: 87495
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Australian film, children and cinema, film education, film appreciation, media education, Australian film history
DOI: 10.1080/17503175.2015.1087133
ISSN: 1750-3175
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > FILM TELEVISION AND DIGITAL MEDIA (190200) > Film and Television (190204)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200) > Screen and Media Culture (200212)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > Research Centres > Digital Media Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Current > Schools > School of Media, Entertainment & Creative Arts
Copyright Owner: 2015 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Studies in Australasian Cinema, 2015 http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17503175.2015.1087133
Deposited On: 15 Sep 2015 23:38
Last Modified: 16 May 2016 10:57

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