Censorship and Publicity

Omri Silverthorne was the chair of the Ontario Film Review Board from 1934 to 1974. By the 1960s, he was publicly calling for an end to censorship, and on his retirement he encouraged the government to end film censorship. In 1963, he noted that “Banning any film today only arouses controversy and brings it a publicity value it does not deserve.”  Film makers and distributors know there is nothing like a censorship scandal for free publicity. Robert Lantos took full advantage of the newly conservative Ontario Board in 1978 to promote the slightly silly In Praise of Older Women.

Canadian author Annabel Lyon is not the shameless promoter that Lantos was, but she must be enjoying the publicity given her book The Golden Mean after BC Ferries decided the shocking cover image was not fit for the family nature of their gift shops.

The story has since been covered internationally, including articles in England, South Africa, Iran, and closer to home in the New Yorker.

As noted on Lyon’s blog, Random House declined to add a wrapper for distribution on the ferries. However, the controversy may have influenced the cover choice for the American edition. Or maybe American readers just needed a more action oriented cover.

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