Damned In The USA

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Date: 1992

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion, Sexual/Gender Orientation

Medium: Film Video


Artist: Paul Yule and Jonathan Stack

Confronting Bodies: Reverend Donald Wildmon, American Family Association

Dates of Action: September 1992

Location: Aberdeen, Mississippi

Description of Artwork: Damned In the USA, a documentary about censorship, includes an interview with Donald Wildmon along with footage of artworks by Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, and others.

The Incident: Wildmon sued the film's producers last year, claiming that a contract he had signed with them before granting an interview for Damned In the USA gave him the right to control the film's distribution. However the court ruled that the ambiguous wording of the contract, which Wildmon's own lawyers had written, did not require the producers to seek Wildmon's permission before showing the film in the US. Wildmon objects to the film, which was made for Channel Four in England, because it juxtaposes his interview with footage of artwork Wildmon's American Family Association has opposed.

Results of Incident: In Early September 1992, a district court judge in Mississippi had ruled that Wildmon did not have the right to stop the film's distribution in the USA; however, less than a week later, the same judge ordered an injunction against screenings of the documentary while Wildmon prepares an appeal. That order was vacated on September 22, 1992 by the appellate court, allowing the film to be shown at several festivals and fundraising events in late September.

Source: ACLU Arts Censorship Project Newsletter, Fall 1992