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Clean Up Your Own Act

Judge tells companies to stop cleaning other's films.

by Richard 'Mr. Moo' Moore
July 23, 2006

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Clean Up Your Own Act
Imagine Saving Private Ryan with no profanity. Imagine The Passion of the Christ with less gore. Imagine Titanic with the steamy sex scene eliminated. Well, that is what you are going to have to do is imagine because earlier this month, a U.S. District Judge in Colorado determined that it was an infrigment of copywrite laws for a firm to make changes in movies and then distribute them.
 
Businesses such as CleanFlicks, Play It Clean Videos, and CleanFilms have been ordered to stop production of editing films and turn over their inventory. These companies are some of the companies that have taken the "questionable" content out of movies and then offer them to the public for sale or rental. The questionables could be sex, nudity, profanity and graphic violence.
 
Now I understand the idea of these companies, desiring to take popular movies and make them family friendly. But I must admit, the idea of "cleaning up" a movie does bother me.
 
Take Saving Private Ryan for example. This movie is quite the war flick. And war is not family friendly. As in real war, the movie has ample blood, gore, guts, profanity and violence. Hey, war is hell and needs to be shown to this generation as something not to glamorize. I remember Vietnam. But most of this generation of 18 years old to 40 something, before the events in Iraq, didn't have a clue about the ugliness of war. Unless you count Forrest Gump. Saving Private Ryan provided a close to life visual of war. War is not sanitized and shucks and golly gee. If you want your kids to see a sanitized and false look at war time, show them Hogan's Heroes re-runs.
 
Most of us, other than in film have never experienced the brutal experience of seeing a person put to death, let alone a crucifixion. Even the church has sanitized the events around the brutal act. So when the world was first exposed to the movie The Passion, we were horrified. It would be a horrible way to die. But let's not sanitize the event. We did that for too long as it is.
 
Personally, if there is any editing going on for my family, I'll do it. I should be able to either use that time to teach my kids something if I deem it necessary.
 
One writer mentioned a comparison that I thought was applicable. Mark Moring, writing in the magazine Christianity Today said: "Picture it this way: Go to a museum that includes Renaissance art, and you're going to see a lot of naked people in paintings and statues … So what do you do? Do you want someone to alter the art itself, to put some boxer shorts on that statue or some strategically placed Post-It notes on that painting?" Beautiful!
 
Just be glad that these companies weren't around when Gone With the Wind was released. Rhett Butler may have departed that final scene with "Frankly, my dear, I just don't care."
 
It's not the same.

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Brooks from Mebane, NC writes:
July 23, 2006
Rev. Moo, You are on the mark once again. I agree that the courts have no business in the morals of our country. White washing the movies takes away some of the naked truth about our society. As a kid, I watch B Westerns every Saturday and at the time I was convinced that six shooters shot dozens of bullets and that a cowboy on the back of a horse could shoot an outlaw out of his saddle at a 1/4 of a mile. I also didn't see blood and suffering when the bad guys were shot. I agree that we cannot and should not clean up blood and guts and cursing just so children can watch it. It is best for parents to withhold the gore and profanity until we feel that our children can understand it real meaning. Just as we need to know the suffering that Christ endured for our sins. It is important gore.

Arian Kulp from Iowa writes:
July 24, 2006
I completely disagree. It seems that your commentary (and much other that I've read agreeing with the judgement) is equating these services with government censorship. Making a deriviative copy has no effect on the original. Writers and directors envision their creation a certain way. If some group of people was editing the film to their liking before release to theaters, replacing the original film, it would be appalling. However, I fail to see how creating alternate versions for interested people can be bad (especially since full DVD's were purchased for each sale -- no money was lost to the studios).

Personally, I hate Disney movies. The majority of their movies in the past 15 years or so have worked way too hard to cater to the parents and other young adults, forgetting about the young kids. The attitudes, language, and innuendo is out of line. So many kids movies, Disney and otherwise are PG. Not because they need to be, but because they fear not enough kids will see a G movie. Why should I not be able to rent a cleaned up version that I'm more comfortable with? How does that affect anyone's enjoyment of the original version? One does not replace the other. Until movie companies get a better handle on what is appropriate for kids, this is a good compromise.

Of course, to Brooks point, some movies don't work as well edited. I wouldn't look for an edited Kill Bill so that my kids could watch it, and I wouldn't want a kid-ified Braveheart. On the other hand, a movie like Titanic (from the article) is mostly acceptable if the sex is removed. Why not make it more accessible? Go ahead and watch the sex if you like it, but my kids don't need it. This way they can still enjoy most of the movie, and talk about it with their friends at school.

Bottom line (sorry, this is almost as long as the article at this point!): you watch what you want to. No one is going to put Post-It's on your favorite paintings in a museum! On the other hand, if I want to look at altered paintings and share them with others outside of that museum, what should that be punishable by law? When my kids are older and ready, then they can enjoy the originals. As long as I know what I'm getting when I pay my money, it shouldn't be a crime.

Mr. Moo writes:
July 28, 2006
you make some interesting points but I think the best way for a company to edit films, if they are so inclined is to purchase the original movie first in its original form. Then take the movie to someone to edit the movie. That can be done without having film makers getting as mad. After all, all you are doing is editing a movie you own.



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