This article discusses the obscenity trial of director Oshima Nagisa's 1976 book In the Realm of the Senses, which includes a series of still photographs and the screenplay from his notorious film of the same name. The case illustrates how obscenity convictions in postwar Japan often hinged on an understanding of the affective power of still images versus moving ones and of images versus text. Central to the censor's charges of obscenity against both the still photos and the screenplay was the contention that they were actually moving images. The essay explores why the censors employed this rhetoric and why films nonetheless were consistently exonerated while literature was consistently found guilty of obscenity in the landmark postwar trials.
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Kirsten Cather; A Thousand Words: The Powers and Dangers of Text and Image. positions 1 August 2010; 18 (3): 695–725. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2010-019
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