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Posted: 09.24.2002
Everything clean. Everything new...must be made clean.
Todd and I watched this on the news last night, and to be honest we were shocked -- there is a company out there called "CleanFlicks" that will take existing videos/DVDs like The Matrix and Saving Private Ryan and "clean" them. What does that mean exactly? They will remove or digitally alter cursing, death scenes, flying bullets, excessive violence and nudity and then send you (obviously for a fee) a "clean" version of the movie that is more family-friendly.

As you can imagine, the studios and directors are going postal over this. And this is one instance where I honestly don't blame them. This goes beyond Ashcroft coyly draping blue velvet over artwork he happens to find in bad taste. This is more like making a Ken doll out of Michelangelo's David. It's completely overhauling someone else's art.

Think about it. Do you honestly think movies like The Usual Suspects, Traffic and Training Day were created with "family" in mind? Do Oscar-winning performances and directions really need to be "cleaned" for the Puritan masses? What do you think? (Read more at EOnline.com.)

Hey boy take a look at me...let me dirty up your mind...

I heard about this, last month but, didn;t believe it. I agree with you. This is worse than watching films "edited" for television (which, in itself, sucks).

¤ ¤ credit: j. brotherlove | 09.24.02 at 04:03 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Did you see the part of the news report where they had taken the swords out of one of the major sword fights in The Princess Bride, and replaced them with LIGHT SABRES????? A.) Why are light sabers less violent than swords? and B.) DON'T MESS WITH THE PRINCESS BRIDE.

Whew. I feel better now.

¤ ¤ credit: Tracy | 09.24.02 at 04:04 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Yes, we did see that Tracy -- and we had a hissy fit over it, too! I hope Rob Reiner continues going medieval on their asses for it...

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 09.24.02 at 04:06 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

One of my friends does this with his family - but they do it themselves and don't sell it or anything. Basically just a way to enjoy the movie without having to subject themselves to overly offensive cussing or sexual subjects. I don't particularly have a problem with it if it's the family doing it on their own (though it'd be better to just not watch those movies if you don't want to deal with that stuff), but I definitely do when it's done by someone else and then sold.

¤ ¤ credit: ste | 09.24.02 at 04:06 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

This was reported on by Entertainment Weekly a couple of weeks ago. I remain as outraged now as I did when I first heard of it.

¤ ¤ credit: Zac | 09.24.02 at 04:18 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Hell, Blockbuster and WalMart, to name but two, regularily censor their offerings. Really cheesed me off, too, as I have a bunch of second-hand films bought from Blockbuster which I must eventually replace.

¤ ¤ credit: Bill | 09.24.02 at 04:21 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I think the difference with Blockbuster and Wal Mart (and even airplane movie screenings) is that the edited versions are created and licensed by the studios themselves -- so the directors still have some creative control over the process. The companies doing this for profit are altering the works without the studios creative input or permission.

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 09.24.02 at 04:25 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I read about this a long time ago and even then I didn't like the idea of it. The most fucked up thing about the coverage last night was these parents talking about "Now I can watch The Matrix with my kids." It's NOT a kids movie! Get over it.

Parents today are constantly looking for other people to save their days when what they really need to do is be a parent!


¤ ¤ credit: C.C. | 09.24.02 at 04:33 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

ohhh, this one is right up my alley. seeing how i live in one of the states that has this. all i have to say is the "people" around here love their sheltered little lives.

¤ ¤ credit: Alteredboy | 09.24.02 at 04:51 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

The studios find the Cleanflicks guys more odious, because they're fucking with copyright. I personally find Blockbusters et al more odious, because at least the people buying a Cleanflick flick know exactly what they're getting, whereas there are no signs in Blockbusters that tell me I'm going to be getting a mutilated version of the movie I want to watch.

¤ ¤ credit: Bill | 09.24.02 at 05:11 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

That's exactly why we both refuse to rent from them, too! ;-) We use Netflix...

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 09.24.02 at 05:15 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Butters clean! That is so so very bad. Leave the movies alone. It's bad enough having them hacked to pieces for TV, but to pay people to do it on video/DVD as well? Pluease!!! Isn't that called copyright infringement anyway? Hope they have a nice cell in prison.

¤ ¤ credit: Jessica Parker | 09.24.02 at 05:42 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I hate to say it, but this makes sense for some movies. There are movies that, except for one or two "money" scenes that lend nothing to the story but lend a lot to the wallets of the producers, would be pretty good family fare. With the exception of one or two scenes, Amelie for instance is a movie I would like to show my ten-year-old daughter since it is overall a very sweet film.

I'm not completely against breasts and blood in movies. But when a sparing and judicious edit can make a movie viewable for my whole family, I'd like to have that choice available.

It is ridiculous, I agree, to edit an obvious adult movie like the Matrix into a kid-viewable film. "Now I can watch the matrix with my kid"?! Yeah, right. The only scene that'd be left is the one where they're sitting around the table eating that gruel stuff. Some movie.

Hey I have a better idea. For a nominal fee, I can send 'em a blank tape with the label on it. That way you can do something else -- like play a game or read a book -- with your child. That'd be more responsible than trying to pre-chew an adult movie for child consumption.

I'm ranting again aren't I. Damn. Sorry.

¤ ¤ credit: Cody | 09.24.02 at 06:01 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

OK, first, someone has to be shot for even so much as thinking the Princess Bride needed to be altered in any way.

I'm not a fan of censorship. In fact, I hate it. If I don't want to watch something because I find it offensive, disturbing, etc, guess what I do? I don't watch it. When I was a child, begging my Mother to let me watch this horror movie or that blockbuster with nudity, guess what my Mom said? No. If she said yes to any movie, she had seen it before me, and if necessary, fast forwarded the parts she did not see fit for a child my age to see. Parent's too lazy to preview a film or use the fast forward button?

I could go on for great lengths on this topic... Might be blog worthy :)

¤ ¤ credit: Veshka | 09.24.02 at 08:56 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I think I have a little different opinion than some of you have, so hopefully I can present it in such a way that you'll see the other side a bit. I grew up in a family of very strong Christians. My best friend's family is even more so. They choose not to watch many movies and television shows, even as adults, simply because they do not wish the see the foul language and sex and violence. Artistic vision or no, much of that stuff *is* gratuitous, you have to admit.

The only people who are renting these movies from Clean Flix are the people who do not wish to see these things. Sure, we can say, "don't watch the movie" but they're still human! They want to know what all the hype is with the latest blockbuster, for example!

With what is hopefully tasteful editing on the part of this company, these people who have chosen a life free from gratuitous sex and violence do not have to turn themselves away from everything that is our culture.

Does that make any sense to any of you? It's their choice. They are perfectly aware that they're missing out on some things, and those are the things they want to miss out on.

It's all about choices, in my perspective. I hope that makes some sense. It's the view from the other side, anyway.

¤ ¤ credit: Jen | 09.24.02 at 09:34 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Okay Jen, based on your theory, if I were muslim, I should be able to view a version of the Mona Lisa with a burka (or whatever you call it) over her face. I don't think anybody would disagree that you'd miss something if 75% of the picture were covered (or removed). The directors and writers of these movies created a work of art, whether you approve of the content or not. I understand the Christian view point. I used to be a major Bible-thumper myself. There are films made by Christian writers and directors for people who want to see films without sex and violence. Whether you think it adds anything to the story or not, it is what they created, and it's being mutilated without their consent. If Christians want to see movies without sex or violence, there are plenty of other options without chopping up popular movies against the creators' consent.

¤ ¤ credit: Tracy | 09.24.02 at 10:42 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Could you imagine what the Godfather, Scarface, or the Sopranos would be like? The entire Sopranos first season would fit on one DVD and be 15 minutes long if they cleaned all the shit out of it. lol

¤ ¤ credit: NastyMike | 09.24.02 at 11:39 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Seems to me this "editing" service is for those "Christians" who want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to see all the movies the others are seeing, but they want to pretend they are being good by watching the "cleaned up" version. Geez. I prefer the straightforward hypocrisy of the average "Easter Christian" to this kind of twistiness. For one thing, you can't censor the plot of a movie and leave anything but the opening and closing credits in it. To give an example, Usual Suspects is a movie where the completely (yet somehow admirable, in a way) evil villain takes advantage of the completely amoral (yet somehow admirable) "heroes," and walks away at the end. There wasn't a Sunday school lesson in there that I was aware of.

Sadly enough, these people seem entirely clueless, and their idea of "cleaning up" a movie seems to be "take all the reality out of it and make it incoherent." (For instance, transforming the swords in Princess Bride to lasers.) I don't see how that promotes Christianity. I'll bet these same people totally boycott perfectly decent movies like Harry Potter, because it has "magic" in it, even though it is also permeated with old-world values such as honor, constancy, devotion to the truth, and so on that Christianity is supposed to foster.

¤ ¤ credit: Andrea Harris | 09.25.02 at 01:35 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

I can tell you now that the Christian imitation of popular culture generally sucks. There is not a viable alternative to most things that most people enjoy on TV, in movies, or on the radio. Good God, if you'd ever seen that "Left Behind" movie you'd have to agree to allow the editing on humanitarian grounds. Jesus told us that we'd have to suffer, but please.

That said, this is a conflict between rights -- parental control vs. artistic control. There are issues where people on *both* sides can exhibit a kind of mindless fundamentalism, not just us Christians. This appears to be one of them.

¤ ¤ credit: Cody | 09.25.02 at 07:20 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Although this may be surprising if you knew me, as I am Senor Free Speech, money to the ACLU, question authority at all times, blah blah blah... there's a bigger issue here.

First off, from a legal standpoint, these people are not reselling these movies. It is a rental service set up in such a way that the customers are also owners of the films. (co-op arrangement and all)

So, as abhorrent as it may be for me as a movie fan, and particularly a Princess Bride fan ("murdered by pirates is good"), the facy remains that, legally, these people are purchasing something, and then editing it to their own preferences. They are not then selling it, they are not then keeping people from getting the true version elsewhere. The only people seeing this are the owners.

If this is marked illegal, than it would be illegal for me to scan Phantom Menace and rearrange it in Final Cut to see what would happen.

What Cleanflicks does is to destroy the artistic integrity of the film by substituting their own moral values and judgements for those of the artist. Horrific and closed-minded? Hell yeah. Legal? Absolutely. I hope they win, because the rights of the consumer (me) will be badly curtailed if I am no longer allowed to do what I want with what i buy for my own use.

¤ ¤ credit: John Kenneth Fisher | 09.25.02 at 07:39 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Ignore my Phantom Menace mention above. Just remembered an actual case that I've actually done.

Took my Pulp Fiction DVD, that I bought. Rearranged with my iBook and put the movie in chronological order, so I could see how that worked.

I bought it. I edited it. I watched it. I did not make multiple copies to redistribute. My single edited version was not resold. It was however, made available for any of the people who own the DVD (which is... me), to watch.

Rights of the consumer. No copyright violation. Legal.

Same as CleanFLicks

¤ ¤ credit: John Kenneth Fisher | 09.25.02 at 07:45 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Okay JKF (sorry, not typing it all out), but what if, having done that with your Pulp Fiction DVD, you say to someone at work "Eh. I watched it. It wasn't all that great." And based on your review of your revised version, that person decides to never see the movie. Granted, I'm sure you watched it in its original form first, but the people who are viewing the movies "cleaned" theoretically, have not. And let's face it, for the majority of the movies these days, if you take out or modify anything someone might find objectionable, you are viewing a product that is in every way less than what it originally was. So, I agree with you, if something belongs to us, we should be able to do what we wish with it, but at the same time, I think a business that makes money from chopping up someone else's artistic creation is *wrong*.

¤ ¤ credit: Tracy | 09.25.02 at 09:25 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Ooh, this is getting fun...

We are in a remix culture. DJ's are being confused with real musicians. There's probably more Harry Potter fanfic out there than there is original Harry Potter material. What do you bet that at least some of it is, um, erotic? Christians are doing the same thing, but going the other way.

Remix Culture. We're going to have to readjust our ideas of intellectual property and artistic control.

It's more and more likely that you'll never hear artists like Bebel Gilberto and Boards of Canada without being remixed by the likes of Moby or DJ Spooky. Successful artists in the future will just have to roll with it and deal.

Who can say whose mix is inappropriate? Does every remix have to be bound by artists' intent? I don't want my freedom as a potential remixer to be limited. But as an artist, I might strenuously object to, say, a white supremicist group doing a remix of my praise and worship song, twisting it to their purposes either.

This is a trend I'm tracking as a futurist. How this plays out will be indicator for how the whole corporate versus participatory culture conflict turns out.

¤ ¤ credit: Cody | 09.25.02 at 10:25 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Funny thing I remembered. Robyn, remember when you worked in the movie rental store in high school and would ask your customers returning their movies "is this movie ok for my mom to watch"? I guess you were pre-screening for me. I find vulgar scenes and language objectionable, so I would appreciate those things being removed. However, and adult movie is an adult movie, and children should watch movies that are age appropriate at all times.

¤ ¤ credit: Robyn's Mama | 09.25.02 at 01:51 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

I'm sorry John -- but doing the editing yourself on a video in your personal collection -- and doing it for someone else FOR PROFIT (and let's make no mistake that CleanFlicks are making SOME sort of profit on this, or they wouldn't be a business in business) are two ENTIRELY different things. The difference in you scanning and rearranging a movie for you, or for me, is that (I assume) you would not be charging for the service. If you were, then you are guilty of wrongdoing IMHO as well.

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 09.25.02 at 03:51 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

What's the difference in doing it yourself, and paying someone to do it for you? I would not have the technological expertise to do this, nor would I have the necessary equipment. Just curious.

¤ ¤ credit: Robyn's Mama | 09.25.02 at 04:18 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Legal copyright. When you buy a copy of something you have the right to do anything you wish with it (like burn MP3s from a CD, etc.). It's when you transfer that ownership to someone else -- whether it be putting those MP3s up on the 'net for anyone to own, or editing a movie how you see fit -- that the copyright agreement is broken. And by selling edited copies of copyrighted material, I'd like to think that this company is very much in violation of that copyright contract.

They could edit the videos to their heart's content if they were from their own personal collections and weren't for resale/rent -- or if they offered the free service of editing videos from someone else's personal collections for that person's private use. But they are editing some new copies, and some customer's personal copies for profit -- and to make a profit by renting and reselling the altered videos is illegal, IMHO -- and I hope a judge backs the studios up on that.

I don't have a problem with peer-to-peer transfers of music I most likely own on cassette, vinyl, or CD already. I download MP3s frequently. I do have a very big problem with editing someone else's copyrighted material for profit. Because under that theory, I could take a Nine Inch Nails CD, rework "Closer" to remove the lyrics "I want to fuck you like an animal" to say "I love fuzzy, cute animals" (suitable for singing on any preschool playground), package it up again and resell it for profit.

By the same token, anyone could take one of my web designs, change the colors from red to pink, put a big turtleneck sweater on Gwen instead of the bikini top, change a couple of paragraphs of text to edit out the cursing I do from time to time, and resell it -- even though the layout, graphics, title and content of the site were the same.

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 09.25.02 at 04:35 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

And see, "Closer" would SO not be the same song without that line!!!

¤ ¤ credit: Tracy | 09.25.02 at 04:38 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Although I am anti-censorship, and was a little frightened by the idea of editing movies, as a high school teacher I was sort of intrigued by the idea. For example, I'm going to be teaching 9th graders Romeo and Juliet soon, and I believe the Claire Danes version of the movie was R. I thought it was a nice adaptation of the play that the kids would be into, but if it's R I can't show it. In a case like this one I would like access to an edited version.

¤ ¤ credit: Ms. Boombastic | 09.25.02 at 11:36 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

Robyn, I do indeed follow you, but they are not reselling the videos. They are only being seen by the people that legally own them, which, due to the way CleanFlicks is set up, includes all the renters.

Oh, I TOTALLY realize that comes across as just a semantics loophole, but it DOES make the legal difference between copyright infringement and not-copyright infringement.

You and I both may find both their actions and overall business model abhorrent, but the way they are doing it IS legal, if only due to a technicality. And my feeling is there is no way to close that loophole without taking away _MY_ rights.

This is the difference between you reselling your version of Closer and keeping it to yourself. They are, legally, technically, keeping it to themselves. A very shrewd and weaselly manuever, yes, but I just don't see a way to legally separate it from the casual user. Slippery slope. My mantra. Slippery slope.

¤ ¤ credit: John Kenneth Fisher | 09.26.02 at 06:59 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

Oh but they ARE reselling them. NBC Nightly News said so!

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 09.26.02 at 03:23 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

It's funny you should mention this edited movies fiasco. I have just written my second newspaper column on the subjet (the first was my outrage at how something like this could happen and the second is a response to one of the more narrow minded inbreeeders from where I live. Hope you enjoy it!

¤ ¤ credit: Ron Middleton | 09.26.02 at 04:29 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

There is TOO a Santa Claus, my Mommy said so! ;)

Completely unrelated to the discussion but it always cracks me up when you talk about the news like it's the word of god. I just always want to pat you on the head in one of those, "There there little girl" ways. You would of course be right to bite off my condescending sounding hand, but still, just because it's on the news doesn't mean it's true. Particularly nowadays.

And related to the topic, not that I support this CleanFlicks business, but there is a big difference between Entertainment and Art. I'm definitely going to go see The Tuxedo this weekend but there's no comparing a Jackie Chan movie to the Mona Lisa or the David. Something doesn't have to be art for its creator to be offended by its tampering. It does the argument no good for people to exaggerate the merits of The Matrix like that.

Besides, most art isn't protected either you know. If I purchase an art piece I can burn it or deface it in any way I choose. In fact there is a rather famous art piece that was created when an artist meticulously attempted to erase a contemporary's work: Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953).

¤ ¤ credit: Ciscley | 09.26.02 at 04:36 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

As far as the reselling or not issue goes: From everything I have read about this before, (slashdot and at least one other news article) they are not reselling, but they are renting.

I'm not saying that Mr. Brokaw HAD to have been wrong of course, but that goes against my understanding of the situation. If they were reselling, than no, they have no legal leg to stand on... but I'm pretty sure they aren't.

¤ ¤ credit: John Kenneth Fisher | 09.26.02 at 10:10 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

From the (linked) EOnline article: "CleanFlicks is a year-old company in a burgeoning industry (competitors include Clean Cut and Family Flix, also named in the DGA suit). It rents and sells so-called "E-rated" flicks to card-carrying CleanFlicks members via its more than 70 stores or the Internet. In addition to its library, it custom de-sexes (or disarms) any sexy or violent movies its members may have in their own video collections."

¤ ¤ credit: robyn | 09.26.02 at 10:26 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

These companies destroy the original DVD - which means no extra goodies like commentary tracks, deleted scenes, documentaries and the like - and charge even more for the purchase of these items and that is what I am against.

It is the first step to widespread censorship. It is not someone's job to sit in an editing room and decide what I can and cannot watch. Only the networks can do that. *L*

There are some programs out there that will edit movies "on the fly" that cut out the "dirty words" and violents scenes, and you can turn them off. That is okay, because the original is not harmed in any way.

The same goes for video tapes - if you buy a tape, hook up two VCRs and get rid of the things you find objective, then by all means, go for it!

Onvce you buy it, you can do what you will to it, just don't let someone else get to it before you do. And remember folks - movies are not one-size-fits-all.

¤ ¤ credit: Ron Middleton | 09.29.02 at 11:04 AM | link--this ¤ ¤

When flying accross the country or the world we are only able to see films edited for the airlines. I really have rarely noticed a significant impact on the qualities of a good film to have some profanity and nudity removed. Most of the time it has little or no bearing on the overall effect.

¤ ¤ credit: Lenz | 10.17.03 at 11:51 PM | link--this ¤ ¤

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