Professor Scahill's "Studies in Censorship"class stepped out the classroom this semester to attend a screening of the 1992 Paul Verhoeven film Basic Instinct and hold an exclusive Q&A with the film's Assistant Director, Eric Jewett. In the course, the first of its kind at CU Denver, Prof. Scahill's students investigated the varied and complex dimensions of artistic censorship. They began the semester with the NAACP campaign against Birth of a Nation and the German efforts to suppress All Quiet on the Western Front in a unit on "Political Censorship." In the next unit on "The Hays Code," the class explored the Hollywood censorship code and the challenges that came from films like I'm No Angel, Scarface, The Bad Seed, and Tea and Sympathy. In this unit on "Sex and Pornography," the class examined how definitions of "the pornographic" were constructed and enforced, and how directors like Verhoeven have pushed at the boundaries of representation.
After the screening, Prof. Scahill's class sat with Assistant Director Eric Jewett, now an Associate Professor in the College of Arts and Media at CU Denver. Prof. Jewett detailed his experiences making the film, providing behind-the-scenes information from the set. As the students were most interested in the censorship battles the film faced against GLBT citizens concerned about negative portrays, Prof. Jewett had many stories to tell about protestors blowing whistles on set and holding up signs saying "Honk if you love the 49ers!" to disrupt audio recording on set.
Thanks go out to Eric Jewett for generously revisiting this film with CU Denver students, and to the Alamo Drafthouse Denver for arranging the film screening and hosting the Q&A aftewards.