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This Week in MIT History

By Dana Levine

In February of 1985, the Pornography Screening committee voted to allow the Lecture Series Committee to show the sexually explicit movie Body Talk, thus permitting LSC to screen the movie without restriction.

In an attempt to find films which the committee would approve, the movie was shown in an open screening during the previous IAP.

The committee’s approval allowed LSC to show the movie in Kresge theater and on Registration Day, situations in which the showing of sexually explicit films was otherwise prohibited.

In an interview, committee member Kenneth M. Weems stated that the committee approved the movie because it was “not detrimental... or demeaning. I don’t think it was objectification of sex,” he said.

John Hildebidle, chairman of the committee, described a checklist of standards which a film must meet to be approved. This list includes stipulations that “the films should reflect believable reality or normalcy in the relationships and sexuality displayed” and that “the films should generally promote a positive attitude toward sexuality.”

Although the committee approved Body Talk for open showing, a previous suggestion, The Opening of Misty Beethoven, was rejected.

LSC later changed its attitude towards officially showing pornography, accepting a voluntary ban on the films which expired in 1995. LSC has since considered showing pornographic films, and resurrected its own Pornography Committee to discuss such issues.

The committee, later renamed to the Committee on Erotica, eventually decided not to screen erotic films.