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Ban This Filth!: Letters From the Mary Whitehouse Archive Hardcover – 1 Nov 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571281494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571281497
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A splendidly entertaining book... finds the morality campaigner comically wrong on many matters but impressively prescient about pornography and paedophile TV personalities.' --Mark Lawson, Guardian Books of the Year

Hilarious but timely selection of letters for the Mary Whitehouse archive. -- The Sunday Times 'Must Read'

A fascinating time capsule from an age gone by. --Mail on Sunday

Book Description

In Ban This Filth!, Ben Thompson unveils the filth and the fury from the Mary Whitehouse archive! The birth of British pop culture and the swinging sixties told through outraged letters and angry campaigns.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Edward Lawrence on 27 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mary Whitehouse loomed large over my childhood by forever, it seemed, trying to ban my favourite show - Doctor Who. As I sat there blissfully unaware of the detrimental effect of viewing "obscene vegetable matter" or a particular freeze frame of Tom Baker drowning, Mary Whitehouse was on the case. She bombarded anyone who would listen (and many who would not) with letters of complaint. This book collects some of the most amusing and although she often condemns herself in print (particularly in her early days of activism when she could be viewed as both racist and homophobic) this book is not a hatchet job. Some of her criticisms carry a greater weight today - in particular there is a piece early on about Gary Glitter lyrics which, in retrospect....well, you get the picture. I would highly recommend this book as an amusing, eye-opening read about cultural history and a window into a world of everyday activism which, at once, seems almost impossibly distant in time but very relevant to today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By George Smiley on 10 Jan. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like a lot of people who grew up in the 1970s, I have always felt that Mary Whitehouse was a prudish, fun-hating bigot on the wrong side of just about every issue she got involved with. I can't say this book changed my mind about her, but I was left with respect for the fact she stood up for what she believed in, and never gave up her point. She comes out of the book as a more complex character than one might have thought, but hardly more likeable (although some of her antagonists were supercilious and patronising to the extent that there were a couple of instances in the book where I felt myself cheering Mary on). The irony is that while Mrs Whitehouse was getting aerated about what was being broadcast, we now know that far worse was going on behind the scenes of British light entertainment, and probably had been for some time.

Anyway, this is a highly entertaining read which tells you a lot about the state of British culture in the 70s and 80s, about the British right of the same period - and about just how ghastly some of the bien pensant cultural panjundrums of the era could be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. K. J. Hill on 22 Mar. 2015
Format: Hardcover
Mary Whitehouse was born with a maximal sense of outrage but a minimal sense of proportion. Showing how the comedy of this predicament played out is the burden of this volume. The editor, Ben Thompson, has pieced together an eclectic mix of letters drawn from Mary Whitehouse’s archive at the University of Essex. Thompson’s intent is to explain how the ‘Nuneaton Nostradamus’ rose to be a household name.

Early on, we are told that if Mrs Whitehouse and her ‘proper, Christian course’ had got its way, ‘our artistic heritage would have been immeasurably impoverished.’It seems easy to believe. Dr. Who, Whitehouse informed the world, was ‘teatime brutality for tots’. Pinky and Perky was no good – it encouraged bullying. All non-religious music encouraged anarchy. (Alice Cooper was kind enough to send Whitehouse a thank you after her protests about the song ‘Schools Out’ ensured its success.) People had the sheer disregard to say ‘bloody’ on national television; they went even further beyond the pale by referring to pre-marital sex. Some – the truly, utterly damned – not only referred to oral sex, but actually admitted it was rather nice. The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour was so ‘filthy’ that Whitehouse pulled out all the stops to guarantee it was never broadcast on TV, and almost succeeded. The Kenny Everett Show was a dangerous ‘bridge’ that led people ‘from adult pornography to child pornography’. Everywhere, TV shows mocked the Christian religion through its dogged refusal to advertise for it. Even the news was no good - no matter what atrocity one faction committed, if they happened to be anti-Soviet, showing it would fatally sap the nation’s morale.

Mrs Whitehouse’s acolytes in the National Viewers and Listeners Association (NVLA) are given their own time on the stage.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Edwards on 31 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fantastic purchase, and a facinating insight into British social and moral history. Bought a second copy as a birthday gift for a friend.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eugene Onegin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback
In days of yore appearances by Mary Whitehouse on television complaining about this, that and the other (mostly the other) tended to be occasions for mirth and lampooning, but reading this splendid selection of her correspondence I found myself re-evaluating her legacy. This was, I suspect, the aim of this book which features chapters on most of her activities with themed chapters on her dealings with the BBC, the Porn Industry, the Film censor and so on. The volume is an eye-opener in more ways than one-it very clearly demonstrates that Whitehouse was a shrewd manipulator of the media and very happy to be in the limelight notwithstanding her ordinary housewife persona. Secondly it was disturbing to learn more about her backers in the NVLA and Festival of Light who had an agenda which went far beyond cleaning up the media being as they were far more interested in pushing an evangelical Christian message alongside right-wing politics. It is not surprising therefore to report that her views on homosexuality for example are repellent and woefully ill-informed. One can dismiss many of her objections to programmes as easily, but not all. Whitehouse for me had one grasped one essential truth -that the media is so crucial to our lives and our understanding of the world that we need to analyse it with great care and to be aware of the impact it can have on many levels. Hence I found myself in full agreement with her on the way in which pornography objectifies women and the way TV News programmes have become trivialised by their tabloid style items. In the Internet age this book is well worth anyone’s time and money-there is much food for thought here despite Ben Thompson’s sixth form humour which mars his otherwise useful commentary. Recommended.
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