Search Bunsnip.com

bunsnip (at) gmail (dot com)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Avoiding versus Censoring

A comment on yesterday's post reminded me of something I was going to post about. A few mornings ago, my semi-conscious thoughts were molested by my morning radio alarm blaring a commercial for ClearPlay. This is a DVD player that you can set to automatically filter certain objectionable content from your movies during playback.

Now, you can argue why you think this product is a good idea if you'd like. But personally, I don't quite get it. I mean, on one level, it's kind of like hanging a picture of a famous nude on your wall, but blacking out the naughty bits with little censor strips (and not doing so ironically).

I remember watching an edited version of The Godfather Part 1 with one of my college roommates. In one scene, Brando tries to get his way by making an offer that can't be refused. He orders his men to cut off the head of the horse belonging to the man he's trying to manipulate, and stick it in the guy's bed. When the guy wakes up, he sees the bloody horse's head, and screams out in horror. He experiences the pain of having his most prized possession taken from him, and that is the entire point of the scene. Well, in the edited version, all you see is the guy waking up to some bloody sheets followed by his screams. If you haven't seen the original version, you don't know why he's screaming. Maybe his legs have been cut off or something, but you just don't know, and more importantly, you don't experience the depth of the loss. I was kind of appalled at seeing this version of the film. It felt cheapened, and ruined.

Now, I understand completely that there are some things you might not want to see, and that's ok. Personally, I can't bring myself to watch any kind of movie that involves sadistic, psychopathic behavior. I can watch scary movies about aliens and monsters, and anything fantastical, but as soon as it becomes something that could really happen, I can't handle it. I can't watch movies like Saw, or Silence of the Lambs, because I become too disturbed. The last such movie I saw was Wolf Creek (I didn't know what it was about), and I ended up having nightmares for weeks.

I also can't bring myself to watch anything with spiders. I had a very difficult time sitting through much of Harry Potter 2 because of all the spiders. I can't watch Arachnophobia. I even have a difficult time with the spiders in the cartoon version of The Hobbit. If I know there are a bunch of spiders in a movie, I don't watch it.

So I get the fact that there are some things you can't bring yourself to watch. But I don't understand why you wouldn't just avoid the film altogether when it contains elements that you object to. I mean, when we're talking about a movie about gangsters (The Godfather), you can't expect to clean it up and still have much content left in the film, because it is a dark subject matter. You can't make a nice movie about gangsters.

I think if you object to the subject of a movie, you should just not watch it. You aren't missing anything when it's something you don't want to see anyway. But you ARE missing something when you start cutting out pieces of someone else's art. You are missing the point.



Subscribe to Bunsnip

15 comments:

Natalie said...

i agree with you. and speaking of movies about gangsters one of my favorite gangster movies is bugsy malone. it is the story told with kids...youth really. it stars a young scott baio and jodie foster. when i was in junior high we saw it at a school function. love it! i am going to have to blog about this now!

Dena said...

There's always the cable version of Pretty in Pink when Steff tells Andie, "You're such a beast" instead of, "...bitch". I saw this about 8 years ago and it drives me batty.

Nate Ring said...

Interesting. I agree, but mostly because it violates our 1st amendment right--freedom of speech. That includes expression.

B.R. said...

This is a topic I find quite odd both as an academic and individual.
Editing presupposes that a piece of work will look better after the 'corrective' process has occurred. When unsolicited, editing distorts what the original artist and author intended. Granted the artist edits but his/her editing choices are controlled by him/her.
Editing needs to be contextualized carefully. A few questions to consider could be:
What is it that informs the editing choices?
Who decides what is left, kept, and/or modified? Is the final edited 'form' disturbing the original 'content' of the work?

Might I recommend the film "Wonder Boys" here to make both a literary and educational point?

sovknight said...

Censorship of ANY kind is inexcusable to me. Who gives you the right to destroy something I've created just because of your misguided "morals?" That reminds me of that horrid "Cleanflix" place they used to have in Utah. So many times I was tempted to go in there just to start an argument with whoever was working. Hello? Copyright infringement?

I'm sorry if swear words offend you. Here's an idea, deal with it. Learn to be more open-minded. Realize that other people live in this world besides you, and most of them aren't bothered by swear words. I'm sorry if tits and ass offend you. Personally, I like a little T&A in movies where it's appropriate. If you don't, then don't watch it. Don't try to ruin my enjoyment of something just because you find it offensive.

And one of the worst offenders: Public radio. You know that word you try to bleep out of the song because the self-righteous bigots that run the country thing it's offensive? STOP IT. Besides, you're only drawing more attention to it anyway by masking it or slurring it or whatever you do. STOP IT. Leave it alone.

If your 6 year-old comes home some day and uses a vulgar word that he might have heard somewhere, sit him down and explain to him what this word means and why people find it offensive. I believe they call that BEING A PARENT. Don't blame other people and don't destroy their freedom of speech just because of your Puritan character flaw.

Censorship is WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Sra said...

Natalie: That is one I haven't seen, but I take it you're getting me on my "nice movie about gangsters" thing, yes? I'll check it out :)

Dena: TV has ruined so many movies with their edited versions. To me one of the worst ones is Gross Point Blank, where the editing is so unsmooth that scenes that make perfect sense in the regular version feel awkward and confusing.

Nate: Yeah, I'd place it more as violating an artist's work over a free speech issue, but I'm sure you could argue the 1st amendment here.

B.R.: Wonder Boys is still on my list. I actually think I saw the movie long ago, but I can't remember much about it. I'm still working my way through Chabon's Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Would be done by now... but... it's my bathroom book... so it's taking its time. But I will definitely get to Wonder Boys.

Sov: Cleanflix, yeah, that's the place the roomie got her butchered Godfather. I think people need to grow up a little bit. If you aren't mature enough to handle hearing a swear word or two, then you need to go back to second grade and get a lesson in maturity. And like I said above, if you object strongly enough to the language, don't watch the film. I could see someone skipping My Cousin Vinny, for instance, if they were sensitive to strong language, because it is abundant with it. But, yeah, sheltering your kids from things you object to is not the proper way to teach your values.

The most ironic thing to me is how welcoming we are of violent content in American movies, but eschewing of sexual content. Now which of the two is healthy? Right, the sex. Healthy, natural, not shameful. Violence is terrible, evil, horrific, ugly. We have our moral priorities ass backwards in this society. When movies like the Dark Knight get a PG-13 while being extremely violent, and movies like Amelie get an R because of about 40 seconds of sexual content, there's something screwed up going on. (Both movies are excellent in my book, btw.)

heidikins said...

I'm with Sov & Sra, don't "fix" it because you don't like it. Choose something else!

I avoid lots of things that I don't particularly like, I have issues with violence, blood & guts & gore simply to have blood & guts & gore. I know that there are some movies where violence is essential (I'm thinking war epics here, not Saw) to the plot. I'm ok with that. I just don't like watching people blown up and chopped up simply to be blown up and chopped up.

Dark Knight freaked me out. Actually. I probably won't watch it again.

Win some, lose some.

(And, for the record, I watch Amelie about once a month. Love!)

xox

tennessee mike said...

Speaking of censoring the mafia...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m43o5IhAcec

SoMi's Nilsa said...

I couldn't agree with you more. Which reminds me of a post I read of a family friend this morning who said she was horrified when her daughter started saying "oh my gosh." Really? You're serious? Because I mean, I think I'd give my (theoretical) kid a high five if that's the worst thing coming out of his/her mouth! hahaha.

Trovan said...

I honestly do not see what the problem is. CleanFlicks, or a DVD player that edits out content, or whatever. They all only edit for the audience that chooses to use them. If you want to see unedited material, you still have the right and the ability.

Art may have some deep soul wrenching meaning for the artist, but for the audience, it is entertainment. If people should chose to remove some content they do not agree with, but still want to enjoy the art, there should be nothing wrong with that, as long as it is for their own personal enjoyment, and they do not try to push that onto others.

Sure, if I chose to remove some content from a film, I may miss out on some of the creator's intended meaning. And you can argue that the movie would be ruined for me. But as long it it retained some entertainment value, and the artist still got his cut, It's a win-win for everyone.

Sure, it may be annoying, especially from the artist's perspective, to have thing thought 'inappropriate' or 'offensive' and then removed. But you have to understand that you cannot throw your own moral code over the world like a big snuggly blanket.

I don't edit movies I watch, by the way. If I don't want to see what is in a film, I just don't see it. I agree that that is the best way.

tauns said...

I love the movie, "Pretty Woman". I have never seen the unedited version but I know EXACTLY the difference in the two and honestly..I couldn't care less about seeing the unedited version. The edited version does a good enough job of eluding to what happens, I can live without seeing it.

Honestly, I see nothing wrong with an edited version (as long as it is edited good...having it say over and over freak as you see the other word doesn't really work). I know I am in the minority here but I believe that just as you and many other have the option to feel it is wrong, I have that same option to feel it is right.

The list is small on hollywood movie artists out there that wouldn't allow some TV editing to bring their art to a broader audience (aka more money in their pockets). I think they if it is on TV they have to get permission for use and edit...at that point I see NOTHING wrong with it!

Sra said...

I'd like to clarify that I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this dvd player, or the editing of movies for TV. I'm not saying it's not wrong either. I'm just saying I think it's preferable to accept something for what it is instead of trying to change it to what you want it to be. That can be said of many things in life.

Sra said...

I'd like to clarify that I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this dvd player, or the editing of movies for TV. I'm not saying it's not wrong either. I'm just saying I think it's preferable to accept something for what it is instead of trying to change it to what you want it to be. That can be said of many things in life.

sovknight said...

Censorship of ANY kind is inexcusable to me. Who gives you the right to destroy something I've created just because of your misguided "morals?" That reminds me of that horrid "Cleanflix" place they used to have in Utah. So many times I was tempted to go in there just to start an argument with whoever was working. Hello? Copyright infringement?

I'm sorry if swear words offend you. Here's an idea, deal with it. Learn to be more open-minded. Realize that other people live in this world besides you, and most of them aren't bothered by swear words. I'm sorry if tits and ass offend you. Personally, I like a little T&A in movies where it's appropriate. If you don't, then don't watch it. Don't try to ruin my enjoyment of something just because you find it offensive.

And one of the worst offenders: Public radio. You know that word you try to bleep out of the song because the self-righteous bigots that run the country thing it's offensive? STOP IT. Besides, you're only drawing more attention to it anyway by masking it or slurring it or whatever you do. STOP IT. Leave it alone.

If your 6 year-old comes home some day and uses a vulgar word that he might have heard somewhere, sit him down and explain to him what this word means and why people find it offensive. I believe they call that BEING A PARENT. Don't blame other people and don't destroy their freedom of speech just because of your Puritan character flaw.

Censorship is WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG.

heidikins said...

I'm with Sov & Sra, don't "fix" it because you don't like it. Choose something else!

I avoid lots of things that I don't particularly like, I have issues with violence, blood & guts & gore simply to have blood & guts & gore. I know that there are some movies where violence is essential (I'm thinking war epics here, not Saw) to the plot. I'm ok with that. I just don't like watching people blown up and chopped up simply to be blown up and chopped up.

Dark Knight freaked me out. Actually. I probably won't watch it again.

Win some, lose some.

(And, for the record, I watch Amelie about once a month. Love!)

xox

Post a Comment