Monday, July 22, 2013

Why I Watch Edited Movies

I love films.

I watch edited movies.

Those two statements are not mutually exclusive.

Contrary to popular belief, you can be a big fan of film and still not be a fan of vulgarity, sexual content, excessive violence and nudity. Much like how you can be a fan of pizza, but not like pineapple on your pizza (or anywhere, for that matter, because pineapple is disgusting). Yet there seems to be this stigma out there that if you're watching edited movies, you're not a real fan of cinema.

I disagree.

So I'm going to take a moment and talk about some of the misconceptions, accusations and general responses that I get whenever I mention that I prefer my movies cleaned up a bit. I want to let you know why I watch edited movies. Before I do, I would like to mention up front that I don't get up on a pedestal and call someone a sinner whenever they mention that they saw an R-rated movie. I reserve that behavior for whenever someone mentions that they voluntarily watched a Tyler Perry movie. But seriously, I don't judge others (vocally) for watching unedited movies, and I hope that you would extend me the same courtesy.

"You watched it edited? Then you didn't really see the movie."

Imagine that you go to visit Paris in the spring. You see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe and other famous French landmarks found in The Da Vinci Code. You come back and tell everyone how much you enjoyed Paris and then someone pipes up and says "Well, did you see the sewers of Paris?"

"No. I didn't see the sewers."

"Well, then, you didn't really see Paris."

And that's how those people sound when they tell me I didn't really see a movie when I saw it edited. When I watch an edited movie, I still see the characters, I still am able to watch the plot unfold, I still hear all of the important dialogue (swear words are just unnecessary adjectives and adverbs anyway), so I've seen the movie. Just because I choose not to watch what I consider to be "the crap" doesn't mean I wasn't able to enjoy the movie.

Now yes, some movies may lose a scene here and there, and the plot can get muddled at times, but that rarely happens and, when it does, that's what Wikipedia plot summaries are for.

"How dare you ruin the director's art! You're ruining a piece of art!!"

No. I'm not ruining anyone's art. I'm not driving to Hollywood, walking into a studio and snipping out sections of the original film (or hard drive, in the case of George Lucas). I have my own copy, at home, in my personal collection. Some of these DVDs in my personal collection are physical edited copies that I bought from a place like CleanFlicks. I can edit other copies that I own, or copies that I rent from Netflix, on my ClearPlay player. The keyword there is "copy." Meaning that the original remains intact for anyone who wants to watch it. Once again, to use a simile, it's as if I purchased a replica of Michelangelo's statue of David and dressed him up in Bermuda shorts, fingerless gloves and a beret. The actual statue is still in Florence, Italy and it's still safe and sound (and nude) for everyone to enjoy. However, back in my house, David is still wearing the shorts, but we've now replaced the beret with snorkel gear -- simply because we can. I choose to appreciate the art in my own way, and it doesn't affect anyone else.

"Wow. I bet [insert movie title here] was, like, five minutes long!"

Believe it or not, swearing, nudity, violence and sex make up a very small portion of mainstream movies. There have been a couple times when the run time of the edited movie was drastically different than the original run time (Team America: World Police comes to mind, but the CleanFlicks version I own still runs over an hour), but, for the most part, edited movies only shave off a few minutes, if that.

"Do you watch every movie edited?"

Yes. Every movie. Even Disney cartoons. They can be so vulgar and vile at times.

I'm kidding, of course.

I don't watch every movie edited. I'll usually check out the Parents Guide on IMDb and see what a movie has in it. Then I will determine if I want to wait to see it edited or not. If there's excessive amounts of sex, offensive language or nudity, I'll wait until it comes out on DVD, so I can watch it on my ClearPlay player. There are some R-rated movies, like The Matrix, that I'll watch without editing because, in my opinion, there isn't much to edit. On the other hand, though, there are some PG-13 movies, like Anchorman, that I prefer to watch edited. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings are a good guideline for me, but they're not the rule.

In my opinion, the MPAA does a pretty good job of classifying what is appropriate for what audience, but I do have issues with some of their ratings. For example, I will never understand how a movie like Slumdog Millionaire, which is a beautiful movie with an inspiring message of hope and love, has the exact same rating as Hostel, which is essentially torture porn. In the early 80s they created a new rating (PG-13) to fit the needs of the gap between a movie that was appropriate for most audiences (PG) and a movie that might traumatize children (R). I think it's time for another revamp of the rating system to distinguish between the Slumdogs and the Hostels. Although, I really don't like it when the MPAA retroactively rates a film. Psycho (1960), for instance, is currently listed as rated R. This classic Hitchcock film should not be rated R. It's a tame PG-13, if anything. The R rating wasn't even created until 1968. But I digress. . .

"Why do you watch edited movies?"

Ah. Now there's a good question (and the point of this entire post). Thanks for asking, faithful readers. Basically it comes down to distraction. It's difficult for me to enjoy a movie when I'm distracted and annoyed by cussing or nakedness. I don't enjoy having these in my movie, and so, by taking them out of the picture (literally), I feel like I can better enjoy the film. And I'm grateful for the different editing options I have so I can enjoy movies I normally wouldn't want to watch.

The nice thing about having a ClearPlay player is the fact that I can choose my level of filtering depending on the audience. Each filter has four different settings (no filtering, least filtering, medium filtering and most filtering), so when my kids are watching a movie, I can have all of the filters on high and not worry about them hearing anything that I'm going to have to stop them from repeating. When it's just my wife and I watching a movie, I can put the Vulgarity, Blasphemy, Sex and Nudity filters on medium (which seems to edit out most of the offensive stuff without over-editing), turn off the other filters and enjoy the movie that way. And, since the ClearPlay player doesn't alter the actual DVD in any way, it doesn't even "ruin" any director's precious "art."*
*see above paragraph titled  "How dare you ruin the director's art! You're ruining a piece of art!!"

I also don't understand why filmmakers don't market edited movies to the masses. There is obviously a market for it (when one edited movie store closes, another one always seems to open), so money and demand aren't the problem. I'd wager that movie studios would make a ton of money selling edited versions to the public. Plus, the studios already make an edited version for television broadcasts and use on airlines, so resources and technology aren't the problem. Yet the filmmakers remain stubborn on this issue of selling professionally edited movies.

For the record, I would prefer a studio-created edited version of films. These edits would be less jumpy than ClearPlay or CleanFlicks, and the audio dubbing is less distracting than the muting when it comes to dialogue. As much as I (rightly) mock Avatar, James Cameron actually put an "Optional Family Audio Track" on the DVD and Blu-ray discs that cuts out all the swearing -- and I applaud that decision. I just wish he would have put an "Original Plot" option on those discs for that movie, as well.

In closing, I'd like to state once more that just because I watch a movie edited doesn't mean that I'm not a lover of film. I love movies, I just don't like some of the stuff Hollywood puts in movies -- and I'm not alone. In fact, one of the foremost film experts I personally know (he's a professional cinematographer with a BA in Media Arts who has worked on such films as Napoleon Dynamite and 127 Hours) is another edited film watcher. And I'd like to share with this quote from him from when I asked him why he watches edited movies:

why i watch edited movies is a big question, and one that has shifted somewhat over time. . .generally [I] still hold to the "no R" rule. but, more than that, i try to seek out good media.**

And that's what I'm trying to do, as well -- seek out good media. After all, movies and TV shows can inspire us and educate us as they entertain us. Film is art. Art is subjective. And I choose not to subject myself to those things that I, personally, find offensive in my quest to find compelling stories told in interesting and beautiful ways. That is why I watch edited movies.

**(Note: The above quote has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen and edited for time and content.)


Emily said...

Shout out to Gremlins (one of my favorite movies ever) and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for ushering in the age of PG-13.

The Former 786 said...


Ryan said...

A slightly different take on ClearPlay:

However, occasionally I'll purchase an edited movie to watch and I do find that some films clean up very well. Thanks for the article!

The Former 786 said...


I do look forward to the day when and if ClearPlay is able to edit streaming videos. I get my DVDs from Netflix, so Blu-ray isn't a problem for me yet, but I agree that ClearPlay needs to get with the program on Blu-ray or they'll fall behind.

Thanks for your comment!

Danno Ard said...

I agree with ClearPlay if you have it but not places like Clean-Flicks. There is a reason they got shut down. When you take a piece of "Art" of someone else and physically alter it and then rent it out that is breaking copyright and so many different levels.

So in the end either get clear play or edit your own movies, but do not go and rent a copyright infringed movie. There is a lot mor to say on this topic but what I said is sufficient.

maxdaines said...

I only consented to read Oedipus Rex in high school after my teacher agreed to edit out the parts about incest.

The Former 786 said...

Danno Ard, it'll be hard to find a place to rent edited movies, since a judge in Colorado ruled those types of stores to be illegal back in 2006. However, I still think it's ridiculous that the Director's Guild sued those stores without any intention of replacing the edited movie void with a better edited product that they could make a profit on. I guess it all comes down to their vanity and pride.

Maxdaines, everyone draws their own lines of what they can handle. Although I feel you were a little extreme when you forced your teacher to make the edits instead of skipping over the parts of that offended you on your own. Actually, Maxdaines, based on your YouTube page, your Pinterest page, your Twitter page (where you say "#iloveutahrds") and the title of one of your blogs (WTFBYU), it sounds you're being sarcastic and exaggerating an idea to prove your point, and I doubt your story is true anyway.

Chuck and Ed said... just introduced me to ClearPlay for Amazon Video and Prime movies!!!