CleanFlicks again

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Hollywood is amazingly persuaded by money and had they been approached by this company to license works and "clean them up" I have little doubt that they would have allowed the work to progress with some sort of disclaimer at the beginning of the film such as one sees every day on Televsion--"This work has been altered from the original--" with a list of how the alterations had occurred. In this case one might complete the list with some like "to remove elements offensive to the alterers and produce a film with a lower rating." I could see Hollywood demanding to see the film before release or to at least detail exactly what was removed--3 minutes of sex and nudity, 5 expletives--on the packaging.

But this company, working under the notion of moral superiority took it upon themselves to do this. (Well, perhaps not, but one must assume that the lawsuit occurred for SOME cause.) That seems to me to be the bone of contention.

While there is a legal aspect to all of this, I will contend that not all alteration is morally neutral, and my argument stands--to make an anti-Catholic sound pro-Catholic, to make a normal person into a racist/supremicist both are fundamental injuries to the dignity of the person. One might think one acceptable and the other not--but lying about a person, it would seem to me, is always morally questionable.

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Dear Steven,
I have been following this topic with great interest. I agree with you on the morality of this issue -- it is lying. It is dishonest, it is unacceptable.

Your example in the previous post is a horrific one! The only time I've been a victim of this kind of bowdlerization is when someone gave my young child a copy of "The Tale of Peter Rabbit Board Book" by Beatrix Potter (not to be confused with the classic by Miss Potter, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit").

I was enraged -- I had assumed it was the original story, but on boards -- easier for little fingers to navigate. No. It was DUMBED DOWN. The sentences shortened, the hard words changed. No longer was lettuce "soporific", now it just made you sleepy.

I was surprised at the fury of my reaction - -but it was because I felt I'd been robbed. Robbed of the opportunity to explain to my girls what "soporific" meant, to teach them about the dictionary. Robbed them of an opportunity that I had shared with my parents.

I looked on the cover and inside for teh name of an editor or some other author, or permission of some kind to do this, but I could not find it.

I cannot imagine why anyone would do this. Did someone think it was unfair for kids to have to read too much? ask about hard words?

As for Clean-flix? Just another example of the christian right's hypocrisy, IMO. If the movie is objectionable, don't see it. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Simple as that.

Like Julie D., I too waited many years to share some of my favourite movies with my girls. But it has been well worth it. Ghettoized? What nonsense. North American children in particular need to learn the dangers of instant gratification.

My kids survived elementary school as the only ones not permitted to watch the first reality shows. They survived not being permitted to watch Friends. They caught all the reruns once they were in high-school and agreed with me -- "wow, those friends are sluts!! They have sex with everyone!" Just what I was trying to teach them-- just because a show is popular, and airs before 10 pm, doesn't make it moral.

Like the people who put the fig-leaves over the genitalia of classical statuary, editing films for "cleanness" is vandalizing art. Maybe not good art. But somebody's idea of art. And that's wrong.

Sorry to go on about this -- but I keep thinking about Pulp Fiction -- a movie that had a profound effect on me -- a positive one. It taught me a great deal about movies that I would never have known otherwise. But if you cut out the swearing, the violence, the drugs, the sex... what's left? The credits, maybe? This was Tarantino's vision. Like it or not, it is art and it makes a statement. It draws the viewer into dialogue, and if you are offended, you should refuse that dialogue, stop watching. But don't duct-tape the artist or put someone else's words in his mouth.

God bless, Steven.


Hollywood is amazingly persuaded by money and had they been approached by this company to license works and "clean them up" I have little doubt that they would have allowed the work to progress

I bet not. You don't know Hollywood at all, it seems to me. And CleanFlicks shipped the original uncut film along with the cut version. Your notion that what CF was doing was somehow a misrepresentation or dishonest is simply wrong.

Dear Zippy,

I will acquiesce, see comment elsewhere.



Dear Talmida,

As I point out in a reply below. I have accidentally misrepresented what really happened. I did not know that an uncut version of the film was shipped with the other. That changes my view substantially.

Hoever, your argument, the aesthetic one, remains. And aesthetic argument, does not amount to the same thing as a moral argument, and it has its own merits, but a great many more shades and subtleties. Right now, I think I'm firmly entrenched in the camp of your opinion on this; however, I haven't really heard any substantive arguments about aesthetics as most of the bruit is regarding the moral issue.

If what Zippy reports is true, my objection on the morality is withdrawn. My objection to the injustice done to the artist's work in aesthetic consideration stands. But an aesthetic argument should not be the basis for legislation or litigation. So, one must assume there must be cause--but the justice of the cause may be more doubtful.



To be clear, the reason for the shipping of the original with the edited version was done in order to present a certain factual pattern when the inevitable copyright challenges came. CleanFlicks has argued that because it had purchased a copy of of the original film for each edited version that it produces that that (a) mitigates certain damage claims and (b) allows them to fall into fair use dimensions of the copyright law. They are losing so far on their case, but that's clearly why they did it in that fashion.

Copyright (in theory) was always meant to be a bargain. The author receives monopolistic protections for his work (with certain fair use exceptions) in exchange for public domain rights after the copyright expired. Of course, big media, has turned copyright into an asset and you get the typicial extensions of copyright every time Mickey Mouse is at risk of entering the public domain. Now copyright is in effect an infinite grant with no practical duration limits.

Dear Jack,

Thank you for the perspective and information. I particularly appreciate your reflection on the present state of copyright laws.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 20, 2006 8:52 AM.

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