From Terminator To Nanny

Garret Epps highlights the "irony that makes [Schwarzenegger], a figure who owes his present eminence to his performance as a naked murderous robot--the new symbol of censorship" in Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association. Epps also examines the slippery slope of banning certain content from children:

California's proposed exception is not based just on some alleged special harmful quality about video games, but on the idea that government, if it chooses, may limit all offensive violence to "protect minors' physical and psychological welfare, as well as their ethical and moral development." If the Court creates the exception California seeks, another state might make it a crime to sell a Terminator video to minors--or, for that matter, a copy of The Iliad--the most violent book I have ever read.

More than two dozen entertainment and media companies, moral-reform groups, and civil liberties organizations have filed amicus briefs in this case. By far the coolest is from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. That brief reminds the Court of an episode I am just old enough to remember--the systematic government destruction of the vibrant postwar comic-book industry.

A flamboyant psychiatrist named Frederic Wertham wrote a book, The Seduction of the Innocent, that blamed America's "juvenile delinquency" problem on comic books like EC's Weird Science, Crime SuspenStories, and The Vault of Horror. The resulting legal backlash wreaked havoc in the industry; it took until the 1980s for the comics world to recover. These days, graphic novels like Art Spiegelman's Maus, or Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Higgins, and John Gibbons, are justly considered major narrative works of the twentieth century. And comic book historians utter the names Weird Science and Vault of Horror with reverence and sorrow.

The Terminator franchise has inspired dozens of comics and graphic novels, in fact.