Friday, September 30, 2005


CleanFlicks = Censorship

We are walking a slippery slope. Yesterday, I wrote about a move underway by the medical industry to ban the filming of births in the delivery rooms (Movies on My Mind 9/29/05: "Filming Births: Banned in America?") and also of Sony Pictures' abandonment of the new Albert Brooks film for its use of the word "Muslim" in the title (Movies on My Mind 9/29/05: "Does This Mean the Terrorists Are Winning?") These restrictions on films are disturbing. Right in line with this ongoing trend is CleanFlicks, a company that literally edits the "dirty" parts out of a film and re-markets them for family viewing. Sensing pushback from Hollywood, the Utah-based company --which was started by Ray Lines after his neighbor asked if he would edit a film using his home-based software -- filed a preemptive lawsuit against the Directors Guild of America (DGA), asking for a ruling that their editing practices are legal. The case is still pending in a Colorado court, is expect it to last for years. I can see this going to the Supreme Court. So, should CleanFlicks compromise the impact of a masterpiece like Schindler's List and edit out the naked men and women on the way to concentration camp gas chambers? How about Meg Ryan's orgasmic screams in the deli scene in When Harry Met Sally...? Where would it stop? Films are works of art! I'll repeat that...films are works of art. And as such, should be given full protection from such tampering. Now, I know there will be those who will argue that this is just a choice, and the actual intact film (as it was intended) could also be purchased or rented. Or those who will argue that this is really no different from the edits a film incurs when shown on TV. I would argue this back...the more this happens, the more a mindset will be developed that it's OK to happen. Guess what? Schindler's List and When Harry Met Sally... are not meant for family viewing. That's why they are rated R. Who's to say that a film (a work of art) should be altered just to give a family a chance to see the film together? Want to see a film together as a family? Try Finding Nemo or Shrek or The Incredibles...all fun for children and adults alike. Why does a 10-year-old need to watch The Deer Hunter or The Godfather or even Die Hard for that matter? I mean, should we glue some pasties on the Venus di Milo? or add a fig leaf to cover up Michelangelo's The David? I'm sure there are those who would say yes, and they are the same misguided folks who will spend money so CleanFlicks can offer the whole family an evening's viewing of ...what?...The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? "Come on kiddies, you're gonna miss Leatherface. Hurry up with that popcorn and sit down!" Does anybody see the absurdity of what's happening?

Remember that 20 minute film called Scarface they showed on network TV? I loved when Sousa warns him, "Don't you ever try to fool me, Tony." And the brilliant move on the part of the filmmakers where we see the Colombian rev up the chainsaw but they never show us what happens to Tony's friend after that...movies have been edited for television and airplanes forever and most everyone involved seems happy to take their residuals.
The morons of this country are doing far more dangerous things than watching bowdlerized versions of movies. Maybe if they have enough movies to watch they'll stay home on election day.
What it really comes down to is wanting our cake and eating it too. If you are a film maker and are willing to let your film be edited for TV you are probably getting financial renumeration for the run. Therefore you are willing to let your art become chopped up. Individuals who object to the content of certain films feel entitled to "see what everyone else sees" but without the violence, sex and language. If it is art then it is art, don't chop it up for a few dollars to have it seen on television. If you object, don't go see it there are plenty of other ways to entertain yourself.

By the way...if it is art in it's entirety why is that when it is released on DVD it includes deleted scenes? Or alternate endings? Doesn't that change the nature of the picture as well?
Hey, cool, Google has a CleanFlix ad on your home page.
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