Yeidy M. Rivero is Associate Professor of Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan. She is the author of
Spectacles of Decency: Morality as a Matter of the Industry and the State
This chapter centers on the ways in which television reviewers, private entities, some audience members, and the State conceptualized morality for television. Initially, discussions about morality and decency on television intersected with ideals of education and high culture. Additionally, for some television critics, the understanding of cultural practices also came with a Catholic/Christian, bourgeois, and Eurocentric notion of morality that operated through racial, class, and gender hierarchies. Modernity in this regard did not correspond to democratic participation in civil society or economic and technological progress, but instead was associated with the racial, ethnic, and cultural composition of the nation. By the mid-1950s, however, the topic of morality took another turn when Cuba’s Ministry of Communication joined the battle against “immorality” on television. Debates about morality became a way for the government to blame those in charge of media industries for the island’s social decay.