I'm not a fan of Bowdlerization. I'd like to make that clear from the beginning. But these days, I find myself rooting for a Colorado based commercial enterprise called Clean Flicks
whose entire business is renting out edited copies of popular movies. Essentially, they are a granny store, and they edit movies to remove such things as gory violence, people screwing, and people using words such as "fuck." You rent the movie from them, and show it to your granny, and don't have to hide in the other room while she watches it.
Well, the Director's Guild of America
took exception to what this company was doing, compromising the artistic integrity of their members artistic shots of members, and so on. The Director's Guild threatened Clean Flicks with suits, Clean Flicks preempted them by sending their own suits, bearing suits, and then there were counter-suits, and everybody got panicky and pissed off in general, generally over what sort of behavior is or is not suitable on or off screen, and who is allowed or not allowed to screw whom, on or off screen. See? Yeah, it's confusing.
Anyway, there was an article about this in today's Sacramento Bee
(no link- the article is syndicated from the Los Angeles Times
and will probably appear in your local paper, soon), in which some people on both sides said some asinine things. One Clean Flicks customer opined that "most crimes start with pornography." Right. That candy bar that little Zane shoplifted the other day? He wanted it because he caught a glimpse of Madonna's tits on cable television. Director Michael Mann, violated artist, said "The idea that somebody else can arbitrarily take our works apart and destroy them in any manner they want and represent them as still being that film is a breach." Ooooh, a breach. Wait. A breach
? What the hell does that mean? I have no idea. But it seems to have something to do with Mr. Mann's masterpiece, *snort* The Insider
, having been destroyed, and ruined forever, as a result of some langauge being altered in a few scenes in a few videotaped copies.
A couple of decades ago, some demented guy, whose name I don't remember, walked into the Vatican and took a hammer to Michelangelo's Pieta
. Now, that
was destruction. (I can't refrain from being unkind and pointing out, too, that the Pieta
was actually art
. Not sorry, Mr. Mann.) I'm not sure what alternate universe the members of the Directors Guild have entered, but, in the real world, the editing of some copies of a move have no effect whatsoever
on any of the other
copies of that movie. The same thing applies to videotapes as applies to books. If I tear out a page from my copy of Hamlet
, that page will remain unharmed in all other copies of the book. Ah, well. I suppose that hyperbole is Hollywood's greatest talent. They'd be bigger fools than usual if they didn't try to make us think that, should Clean Flicks be allowed to continue its depredations, this will lead inexorably to the point where we will end up with a world in which none of us, ever again, will be able to see Tom Cruise's three-hundred-dollar-a-day body double's naked ass. Oh, the tragedy!
Personally, I suspect that the availability of sanitized versions of popular movies would probably reduce the pressure on the movie industry to clean up its entire output to the point where it wouldn't offend your average Mormon. Those obsessive folk who want to run everybody else's lives would continue the crusade, of course, but their casual supporters would be likely to melt away, if an easy alternative were available. Most people, even most prigs, are (let's face it) lazy. They'd rather watch the cleaned-up version of Titanic
than spend the evening writing nasty letters to their congressman about how Kate Winslet's ample jugs were leading to the ruin of American Civilization.
The availability of sanitized movies would probably even increase the size of the market. And that may be what the Director's Guild is really worried about. They already allow movies to be Bowdlerized for broadcast on network television (so much for their pronouncements about "artistic integrity.") But network television pays them dearly for the privilege. The movie industry probably makes more money from selling movie rights to television than it would from the sale of a few more, tidied up, videotapes. I suspect that Hollywood's liberal directors, like the French, have their hearts on the left, but carry their wallets on the right.
In any case, this is one of those situations in which I find myself, oddly, sympathetic to the booboisie, and I hope that Clean Flicks gets to continue its nefarious practices, and the courts send the Director's back to the world-that-does-not-revolve-around-them.
You know; thereal
If you would like to see some very interesting articles on this case, I would recommend that you start with the links on this page
, at the fascinating web site of Information Anarchy