Tuesday, May 17, 2005

John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson As faithful readers of my articles know, censorship is something that I take very personally. So, when I read about some companies producing products that sanitize DVD movies, I couldn't help but get a little angry. Hey, buddy, if you don't like the cursing and bloodshed in Pulp Fiction, then don't watch the movie. If you are that compelled to watch a movie without offensive stuff in it, then pick a G-rated movie. You're not a little kid anymore, and it's not everyone else's job to clean up society for your kids.

Tom Hanks The first problem I see presented with these gadgets that clean up movies is that they lose the meaning which the movie's cast and crew was trying to display. Would you feel the same about the United States' involvement in Normandy in World War II if the violent scenes were cut out in Saving Private Ryan? You'd have thought that it was just a drive-by shooting, rather than a very important and decisive battle that brought the U.S. and the rest of the Allied forces prosperity.

Including the smothering of the artistic intention, the new technological breakthrough in censorship, or "mommying" as I like to call it, completely disregards the First Amendment. The First Amendment grants freedom of speech, doesn't it? Well, if you're taking it away, not only is it no longer free, we no longer have it. That's very hypocritical! If I go to a store and the only version of Pulp Fiction I can buy is one that has been sanitized, you have violated mine, and everyone else's right as an American. Instead of trying to shield these crybabies from the real world, or the portrayal thereof, expose them to it. When they're actually faced with a life-like situation (perhaps they are drafted and have to go into war), they're going to be shell-shocked before they ever pull a trigger. They need this virtual exposure to life's possibilities. Not to get off track, or be perverted and immature, but do you think so many men would be as good at giving women oral sex were it not for pornography? We do learn from movies, too. But when you're cutting out more than half of a movie, it's completely shattering any chance of learning what the artist intended for us to learn.

Schindler's List In addition, the most obvious drawback of this insane censorship is that these movies are usually around 90 minutes pre-censorship, but when you're cutting out curse words, violence, and nudity/sex scenes, you may be cutting off as much as, if not more than half of the movie. Could you imagine a clean version of Schindler's List? You may be thinking about joining the Nazi Party after watching that version - the scenes portraying the plight of the Jews will be long gone. Moreover, you're not getting your money's worth when you pay upwards of $7.00 at the movie theatres, when instead of being there for a good hour and a half, you're in and out quicker than if you had gotten a haircut. And more importantly, it will completely shatter the movie industry because now that movies are half the length, they'll be half the size when they're being copied all over the Internet. No longer will you need to rent from NetFlix or Blockbuster, nor will you need to catch the next re-run on HBO. All you've got to do is use a file-sharing program, such as Bit Torrent or Limewire, and you've got a full-length (45 minute) movie that took you all of five minutes to download. Want your friends to see it? E-mail it to them or burn it on a disk and take another "coffee break" to give them their copy of it.

Explicit Content This censorship doesn't apply just to the movie area of entertainment. It's been going on in music for a long time. In fact, Walmart doesn't even sell CD's with the "Explicit Content" warning on it: they sell only the clean version of it. While that's not completely controlling the market, as the explicit version is still allowed to be marketed, it may lead to other stores adopting the same policies when they see how successful Walmart is (not in part to their clean CD's). And with some of these tricky return policies, it might end up costing you double when you accidentally pick up the clean version of Eminem's lastest album and have to go back and get the unedited version.

So what can we do about this? Just don't buy the sanitized versions of DVD's and CD's. Even if you are indifferent to the censorship situation, realize not only your rights as an American, but everyone else's, too. The director of a movie has more of a right to portray the Holocaust than these ignorant censors have the right to deem it offensive. Even if the increased censorship doesn't affect you right now, it may soon. Do you have a Tivo? Soon enough they will come out with a way to tape all the shows you want but without the curse words, violence, and nudity/sex scenes so it's safe for your children to watch. On that note, parents, realize that you can't shield your children from everything, so you may as well expose them to it early on so that they don't develop psychological disorders when they are rudely greeted by exposed breasts and violence once they head off to college. It's a fact of life: you can't control everything, so stop trying.