Evangelical tribalism on display (with photos)

Buzzfeed’s Matt Stopera shares “56 Things I Learned at the Biggest Christian Music Festival in the World.”

That would be the 34th annual Creation Festival, right here in Pennsylvania. I’ve been there twice.

Stopera’s piece is similar to the handful of CBA Freak Show articles that will be coming out later this month, after the annual ritual of the Christian Booksellers Association Convention. (This year’s CBA convention — now called the “International Christian Retail Show” runs July 15-18. Look for those articles soon.) Those all follow a similar pattern to the other crop of chuckling articles that will be coming out this month after Comic-Con 2012 in San Diego.

I give Stopera credit for bringing a generous approach to the Creation Festival — he’s not sneering or condescending in the way too many reporters at events like this can be. His criticism is aimed at vendors, organizers and sometimes the overall ethos, but he avoids ridiculing the attendees themselves. And I give him extra credit because, unlike reporters passing through the CBA or Comic-Con, Stopera had to commit to three days of waiting in line for port-a-potties.

“The port-a-potties at Creation were definitely the cleanest I’ve ever been in,” he writes. “It definitely has something/everything to do with there being no drinking allowed.”

Stopera finds a host of anti-abortion, anti-Kony commerce going on in Creation’s vendor booths (causes that strike similar emotional notes in their appeal there, and that perhaps fulfill similar emotional needs). But apart from a “Don’t Mess With Marriage!” bumper-sticker from that one creepy old bumper-sticker guy, Stopera says, “I didn’t see any mention of anything gay the entire time.”

That’s almost encouraging. Almost.

Unfortunately it’s still taking place in a context in which the default setting is exclusion and condemnation. Creation isn’t going to “generate controversy” by including any openly gay artists or speakers — or even any openly non-anti-gay artists or speakers. And its practice of forbidding such artists from playing there doesn’t “generate controversy” for its target audience.

I suspect, mainly, the absence of more explicitly anti-gay material at Creation is a function of the same impulse we saw in Halee Gray Scott’s “I Am Not Charles Worley” article — the desire to be anti-gay and anti-legal-equality while still being perceived as a “nice” person.

But maybe also — maybe — the lack of anti-gay merchandise at Creation also reflects the raw profit-seeking that seems to drive so much else of what those vendors are all about at Christian festivals. Ministry schministry — those vendors are driven by supply and demand and they’ll sell whatever they think this audience would be willing to buy. So maybe they’ve learned that the younger generation that makes up the bulk of Creation’s market just isn’t interested in buying anti-gay T-shirts and that carrying that stuff only takes away valuable selling-space from more profitable T-shirts, bumper-stickers, “scripture tags” and other sorts of tribal totems.

Maybe that’s part of it too. I hope.

* * * * * * * * *

The awkward, uneasy relationship that conservative Christians have with pop culture is also at work in a product Steve Buchheit alerts us to: “Clear Play, you won’t even know what you’ve missed.” The nearly life-like spokesperson in the video says:

Have you ever wished that you could eliminate offensive distractions that keep you and your family from enjoying a movie even more? Well now you can, with the Clear Play DVD Player. Just put in any movie and it will edit out the content you’re uncomfortable with.

It seems this is a real thing.

You can download the “filters” for many movies from Clear Play’s site.

You can, for example, download filters to allow you to watch a raunch-free version of Jonah Hill’s raunch-fest The Sitter. Or filters to allow you to watch a gore-and-violence-free version of Friday the 13th.

Why you would want such versions of those movies is another matter. Clear Play says their technology allows you to watch almost any movie as part a nice, respectable, G-rated “Family Movie Night.” But what kind of person would ever imagine that The Sitter or Friday the 13th ought to be part of their G-rated Family Movie Night? What is someone thinking who says, “I don’t like raunchy humor, but I’d like to watch The Sitter?” Or who says, “It would be fun to watch Friday the 13th with the kids, if only there weren’t so much violence?”

I understand the general idea here, and there are commendable reasons for wanting such a service. Not all of those reasons are necessarily as creepy as that creepy slogan: “You won’t even know what you’ve missed.” But the overall vibe one gets from Clear Play is just exactly that creepy.

And also, frankly, a bit sad. Buchheit writes, “It reminds me of the Friends episode where Phoebe finds out she really didn’t know the end of Ol’ Yeller.” And I can also imagine some poor Ned Flanders type spending 45 minutes one evening to watch both Godfather movies, then wondering why his friends thought they were so great.

“You won’t even know what you’ve missed” is a terrible marketing slogan. But it’s even worse as an epitaph — which is what it could be for those who spend their whole lives inside of this kind of sanitized bubble.

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  • ReverendRef

    This immediately brought to mind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where people could eliminate painful experiences from their memory.

    It’s Movie Night tonight at church and we’re watching Surrogates.  One of my discussion questions has to do with wondering if humanity is defined by pain.  Are we really human, or do we short out the human experience, if we eliminate all that causes us trouble?  This was sort of the backstory behind Firefly and Serenity with the Alliance’s attempt to make everyone “nice,” but discovering they had also created Reavers.

    Where would we be if we had never left the Garden?  And once we did leave, or get kicked out, that whole list of things we have to deal with (painful child berth, toil every day) seems to pretty much define who we are.

    It appears that some people are overly fixated on sanitizing life to make it in their own image.  Part of the problem with making life in our own image is that we have the audacity to think that what’s good for me is good for thee.  But taking that approach generally leads to maintaining the privilege of the few while oppressing the many, or Other.

    I guess what I’m trying to say to Clear Play and other Evangelical tribes is this:  Quit trying to play God.

  • Beleester

    Serenity is probably not the best choice for an example, because that was a failed attempt to make people better – either they became so passive they just laid down and died, or they became violently insane, and neither one is much of an improvement.  If you want to raise some scary questions about how humanity is defined, ask what would happen if they succeeded.  Was it a bad idea in general, or does the Alliance simply need to hire some non-evil scientists to do it right?

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Success would just be Prozac for all, wouldn’t it? 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I guess what I’m trying to say to Clear Play and other Evangelical tribes is this:  Quit trying to play God.

    I agree with this fully when it applies to life… that is, trying to “sanitize” people’s experience of the actual world.

    When it applies to movies, books, and other things which aren’t life itself but rather an individual or group’s account of life, it’s a little more complicated.

    When I produce a movie, direct a play, write a book, etc., I am presenting a  view of reality that I have systematically distorted in service of a particular perspective. This is a fine and noble endeavor and I am entirely in favor of it. But it’s different from simply presenting reality as we ordinarily experience it. (If it weren’t, there would be no point.)

    When someone like Clear Play changes my movie, they systematically distort it in service of a different perspective. That is, they are doing the same kind of thing that I did. They aren’t playing God, they are playing author.

    There are potentially all kinds of problems with this if they do it without my consent, against my will, or without clearly indicating that their output doesn’t necessarily reflect my own. And there are ally all kinds of problems that arise when a community is prevented from seeking out certain artistic perspectives across the board (e.g. via censorship).

    But playing author is not in and of itself problematic. Heck, sometimes derivative works are an improvement on the original… I’ve often found this to be true of fanfic, and of translations, and of adaptations.

  • ReverendRef

     When it applies to movies, books, and other things which aren’t life
    itself but rather an individual or group’s account of life, it’s a
    little more complicated.

    I know . . . it’s always more complicated than that.  But I’m still convinced that this isn’t about making things safe for their tribe; I think it’s about developing programs that will create a way for the RTC’s to implement the society they’ve always dreamed of.

    And I know I’m not being very clear about that, but I tend to not think clearly when I’m annoyed.

  • Imogen Quest

    This is really hard to imagine. I can see it working for verbal profanities, but the results would surely be hilarious, like the sanitized version of The Big Lebowski in which John Goodman destroys a sports car while yelling “This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!” And you’d definitely know you’d missed something.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    OK, so – Blazing Saddles. A lot of the bite comes from the N-words and the partial N-words. Now, does it cut the full word and leave the partial ones? 

  • Nequam

    OK, so – Blazing Saddles. A lot of the bite comes from the N-words and the partial N-words. Now, does it cut the full word and leave the partial ones?

    I think so, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a TV print. I do remember “ass” getting overdubbed with a horse neigh, the end of the “Peaceful Town of Rock Ridge” song getting overdubbed with a atonal organ chord, and all the fart noises removed from the bean scene (rendering it almost completely pointless, though Taggert still has the reaction to the now silent-but-deadly smell).

  • Donalbain

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmRTUNh1vPo

  • Tricksterson

    One wonder what would happen if one could take say half the goers to the CBA convention and swicth them with half the goers at Comic-Con?

    If you want to edit out say,the offensive scenes of Friday the 13th fine.  But I want to be able to insert a gangbang scene into Mary Poppins.  Where are my rghts?

  • VMink

    Lightsabre duel in The Bachelor.  That would make that movie so much easier for me to get through. You hear that, Clear Play? LIGHTSABRE DUEL. THE BACHELOR. MAKE IT HAPPEN.

    I think a person… legally has a right to watch a movie as they wish, so long as the creator of that movie is given their due.  I do think that doing so completely misses the point of the movie in the first place, and is doing one’s self a great disservice.  Sometimes, the objectionable content is there for a reason, not just to be transgressive but to make you think.

    I’d love to see the Clear Play version of a Pulp Fiction, though.  I wonder how many minutes of actual film there’d be?

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Shortest Films ever, brought to you by ClearPlay:
    Aliens, Heavy Metal, Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, Hannibal, Human Centipede, Serbian Film…

    We need a ‘good’ version, that photoshops gangbangs and lightsaber duels and random Ambassador Kosh appearances into movies. 

  • reynard61

    “Shortest Films ever, brought to you by ClearPlay: Aliens, Heavy Metal, Pulp Fiction, Inglorious Basterds, Hannibal, Human Centipede, Serbian Film…”

    Don’t forget “Full Metal Jacket”. That one’ll melt it’s processor!

  • Matri

    Ooh, and “Evolution“.

  • christopher_young

    Shortest Films ever…

    Themroc – about 45 seconds of a guy cycling to and from work.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    THAT’S the one! I was trying to think of a military film with wall-to-wall swearing and all I could come up with was “Aliens” — mainly off the strength of the old DOOM TC where the “motherfucker!” audio clip replaced the ‘imp hiss’ sound effect, making it nearly ubiquitous. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    “We need a ‘good’ version, that photoshops… random Ambassador Kosh appearances into movies. ”

    This really needs to be a thing. I cannot think of s single movie that would not be improved by Ambassador Kosh.

    Ellen Ripley: How long after we’re declared overdue can we expect a rescue?
    Kosh: ::warble warble:: At the hour of scampering.

  • Tybult

    A few weeks back, I sat down with a friend’s dad and watched part of Albert Nobbs with him.
    The only way you could get me to watch the whole thing is if you promised that mutant bears appeared in it.

    They wouldn’t even have to be good mutant bears. They could be crap-ass Birdemic style special effects, and they’d still only improve the movie.

  • Tricksterson

    I’ve never even heard of that movie but I still liked your post because there is nothing that connot be improved by the prescence of mutant bears.  Especially ones that have learned to harness the power of fire.

  • Albanaeon

     Evil Me would pay a lot to see that swap…

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    One year Baycon shared a convention center with Charismatic Catholics, but this being the San Francisco area we got on fine.

  • VMink

    The “Clear Play” thing makes me think a few legal thunks.  For starters, it’s perfectly legal, of course — it’s as legal as RiffTrax, with the exception being that they remove content rather than add to it, and I imagine the RIAA won’t care (no matter what some directors might say (some loudly)) since they’ll still get paid.

    I can see there being some interesting complaints if someone thinks that Clear Play automatically ‘cleans’ a DVD being put in.

    This being said, I don’t get the concept.  It’s kind of like watching Triumph des Willens with all audio of Hitler cut out, or Birth of a Nation with all the shots of Klansmen cut out.  Or watching Hillary while having all clips of hyperreactionary pundits removed — you’re kind of missing the point of the films if you edit out objectionable, offensive, or annoying stuff.

  • Victor Savard

    (((Ministry schministry — those vendors are driven by supply and demand and they’ll sell whatever they think this audience would be willing to buy.)))

    Fred, some times, I really  believe that most people do worship “The Almighty Dollar” and for some reason (s) can’t seen to see the difference between “IT” and GOD (Good Old Dad) so why not create their own gods?  Right sinner vic? http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=18142394&postID=4536200519572542929 

    Peace

  • The_L1985

    The sad thing about that DVD filter is…I have kin who would want it.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I’ve considered something like Clear Play, not for watching but for re-watching with an eye towards one specific thing or other.

    It never occurred to me that one could apply the basic idea to all viewings with the specific thing being “not-objectionable stuff” and in so doing get a market willing to buy entirely new DVD players just to not see things.  (I assumed such a thing would have little market and people using it would be limited to watching on computer.)

  • GDwarf

    Clearplay might not get a free ride, actually. Mom & Pop movie-“cleaning” shops have had some very angry MPAA agents knocking on their doors for the terrible crime of taking a customer’s tape of, say, Titanic and recording new versions with the nudity cut. For a fee, of course.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Why not just use CAPAlert to decide if a movie in its entirety is “safe”? Excising a movie to make it more “safe” can remove the dramatic effect of the story it’s telling.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    It might be tempting to have  a ClearPlay party, if I wouldn’t have to give them my money to do so.  Watching all 88 minutes of Smallville* might be interesting, certainly.

    *The runtimes given for Seasons 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 are all 0 minutes.  Seasons 3 and 4 are 45 and 43 minutes, respectively. 

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Presumably, all they allowed through were the bits where Clark turns evil, since the rest of the time, they’re inappropriately depicting an illegal alien as admirable or heroic.

  • Tonio

     Why would ClearPlay deem those two seasons as more acceptable? It’s been some time since I’ve seen those episodes.

    I’ve been dithering about whether my 10-year-olds should watch the PG-13 entries in the Harry Potter series, even though they’ve read all the books. Given the language used in the last book, we told them that if they don’t recognize a word, they shouldn’t simply use it, but instead should ask us what it means first. I’ve seen all the movies myself, and had doubts about the age level when Ron told Harry to “Piss off” in Goblet of Fire.

  • Mrs Grimble

     I’ve been dithering about whether my 10-year-olds should watch the PG-13
    entries in the Harry Potter series, even though they’ve read all the
    books. Given the language used in the last book, we told them that if
    they don’t recognize a word, they shouldn’t simply use it, but instead
    should ask us what it means first. I’ve seen all the movies myself, and
    had doubts about the age level when Ron told Harry to “Piss off” in
    Goblet of Fire.

    Maybe your doubts were right, though not because of the language. “Goblet of Fire” was rated 12A (suitable for 12+) in the UK:

    The latest Harry Potter film is much darker and scarier than the
    previous three, which were all classified PG (Parental Guidance,
    suitable for people aged around 8 or older).

    So Examiners decided that the 12A was the most suitable category, as
    younger or more sensitive viewers could be frightened by some of the
    more intense scenes (which I can’t reveal as you’d get upset with me!).

    The ending was a shock too, although maybe if you have read the books, you’ll be expecting it anyway.

    At 12A, we allow moderate level violence, but without focus on injuries
    or blood. We also allow scenes of threat and horror, but only if there
    is little ‘gore’.

    From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/newsid_4350000/newsid_4358300/4358388.stm

  • rupaul

    I hate to disagree with Fred and every other poster, I guess, and probably every reader of this whole blog. But I don’t see any difference between skipping stuff in a DVD and skipping the stuff you don’t like in a book. In high school a very Randian classmate pushed me to read Atlas Shrugged and was appalled that I skipped John Galt’s 40 page speech. I skip tracks on CD’s that I don’t like. There are entire *genres* that I don’t read or watch or listen to… 

    For that matter, are you “living in a bubble” if stuff in a movie is triggering and you don’t want to see it? (Or would that be the only reason people here would accept for “bubbling” a movie (I don’t want to say “cleaning”, because that implies something wrong with the original.))

  • GDwarf

     

    ut I don’t see any difference between skipping stuff in a DVD and skipping the stuff you don’t like in a book.

    I don’t take issue with skipping the stuff, but I do with never seeing it in the first place.

    I skip some stuff in books, but I generally read at least a bit so I know what it is I’m missing and decide whether to skip it or not. I’d never buy a pre-edited book that simply stripped out everything the Bowdlerizer thought might offend someone without any indication that it was there.

    Maybe you don’t like violence in your movies, in which case feel free to fast-forward or otherwise skip the fight scenes. But at least be aware that they’re there and have a rough idea what it is you’re missing. Don’t let other people judge what is and isn’t offensive for you.

    That’s one of the issues I have with the MPAA ratings system. Not that it exists, the basic idea is sound, but that they never provide any justification for their ratings. They don’t have to, not even to the directors, and the only people you can appeal to is them again.

    This means that the entire content of a movie gets summed up by a single letter without any further information. Is it rated R for violence? Non-sexual nudity? Sex? Rogue political views? A cringe-worthy dance number? You can never know and so the rating is worse than useless, since most people will play it safe and skip movies that are rated too high, even if what the MPAA considers NC-17-worthy doesn’t agree with what you would. Especially given that they’re apparently all under the unwavering belief that it’s inappropriate for a child to see a nipple. Might scar ’em for life.

    The ESRB (provides age ratings for video games) is significantly superior. It’s transparent and lists exactly why a game got the rating it did on the box. If you want more information you can go on their website and look up every rating they’ve given and why, in addition to more detailed information on that rating and what, precisely, is meant by, say, “Cartoon violence”.

    The ESRB still has flaws (no meaningful appeal, rates sex far higher than violence, though is still much less concerned with it than the MPAA) but it’s much, much closer to how any reasonable ratings system should work.

  • rupaul

    Agree with you about uselessness of movie ratings; “brief language” is especially annoying as a reason for a rating. 

    No, I wouldn’t want my books pre-digested, though I really liked Classics Illustrated comics books as a kid. Talk about leaving stuff out! There was a CI “Crime and Punishment”. Only included the Crime, and didn’t make much sense.

    I actually feel rather horrified at the idea of books with scenes pre-deleted, which kind of makes your point. 

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Especially given that they’re apparently all under the unwavering belief
    that it’s inappropriate for a child to see a nipple. Might scar ’em for
    life.

    The MPAA’s officials were all bottle babies, I take it.

  • Ken

     Sure, that’s great. Now, are you willing to give me your remote controls so I decide what you can, and can’t, watch?

  • rupaul

    Isn’t Clear Play voluntary? I *might* give you the remote if I knew you well enough, just like I might trust you to tell me to steer me away from a movie you knew I wouldn’t like. My SO tells me to FF through stuff and say when it’s OK to look. 

    So, no, I wouldn’t like Clear Play deciding for me, but then I’m not their market. I don’t think the idea is horrible though. Are you imagining compulsory bubbling? (I know my word will catch on if I repeat it again.)

    The idea expressed by another poster that Evangelicals are cutting themselves off from the mainstream culture by not watching Pulp Fiction opens up interesting issues about what our common culture is made from. I *haven’t* seen it, and don’t want to particularly, but know vaguely about some of the stuff in it. Is that enough? 

    Do I need to go see that Christian fireman movie (not the porn one, the real one, I know what you’re thinking!) Am I cutting myself off  from their culture? Do I need to read the Purpose Driven Life? (more painful than the Galt speech, I imagine, but I’m not sure. Longer anyway.)

  • Jim Roberts

    This isn’t about skipping stuff on a DVD, this is about placing your trust in a third party to skip stuff on a DVD.

    Imagine if you got your copy of Atlas Shrugged and the 40-page speech from John Galt was simply missing, and in its place was a note from the publisher, “You don’t need to read this, so we took it out.” Now, the publisher just did you a solid, really, but would that please you?

  • Turcano

     No, because that should be done to the book in its entirety.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Back when aeroplane movies were heavily edited, my sister saw an in-flight cut of Indecent Proposal.

    Shortest movie ever.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Not so long ago, I recall watching movies taped from TV showings with my mother.  Some of the things they’d cut… well, one example was a joke from Good Morning, Vietnam which was changed to, “That man really needs a real job.”

    I used to go on outraged rants over the cuts, while my mother was all, “Well, I don’t know what I’ve missed, so how bad can it really be?”  Her motive was thriftiness rather than conservatism, but it still drove me nuts.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    The copy of “Blazing Saddles” my wife got in a box set had a special feature containing the edited-for-television scenes, because there was some actual care taken in replacing the things you couldn’t say on TV with alternative jokes that were at least still valid jokes.

    I’ve had it with these monkey-loving snakes on this mighty fine plane.

  • Albanaeon

    One one hand, I find the Clear DVD somewhat hilarious as I can see a whole group of Fundies finally watching some of these cultural touchstone movies and then trying to now relate their acumen to much more sophisticated and informed fellows.  Like Creationists trying to talk science, only with Matrix references…

    The other is that I regret that they are yet again finding ways to isolate and insulate themselves from everyone else.  A hell of a lot of misunderstanding and anger occurs because of their deliberate friction towards mainstream culture and that there’s a segment of the populace deliberately pushing them into their holes and profiting off the explosions that result  really irks me.

  • Robyrt

    The BuzzFeed post has been making the rounds of my Facebook friends – particularly lamenting the couple on their honeymoon and the Jesus-themed yo-yo which pitches itself as an evangelism tool(!)

  • gorgias

    I have a movie night with some moderately conservative Christian friends who will put up with violence (of course) and quite a bit of language (though I haven’t put it to the Tarantino test yet.)  But sex/nudity is often the dealbreaker, sad to say, which can occasionally make things awkward.  We tried this Clearplay nonsense a couple times, but luckily, we were all driven nuts by a) conspicuous gaps in the dialogue that ruined the flow of the movie, and b) the hilarious moments when they censored words that had no offensive connotations whatsoever.

    Still, this leaves problems when I try to introduce them to some high-quality TV, like something off of HBO, for instance.  I’ve had to rip my Game of Thrones DVDs, use a video editor to cut out roughly 95% of the nudity (you just can’t take it ALL out, it’s impossible), then play them through my gaming console.  Some people might think it’s too much trouble, and they’re probably right.  Me, I think it’s worth the effort to get them to watch the stuff I like.

    Maybe that’s what the Clearplay people have in mind, though I personally wish that their target audience would just grow up.

  • http://twitter.com/AbelUndercity Abel Undercity

    Trust Fred to reference the one episode of Friends I’ve ever seen, haha.

    So how does a “cleaned-up” version of Friday the 13th play out, anyway?  A gradually disappearing cast of kids doing nothing in particular, ending with Mrs. Voorhees having a heart to heart with Alice, who then goes off for a quiet canoe ride?

    Which ends up being, what, thirty minutes long?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Eh, I don’t know.  I agree with the objection to ClearPlay in principle.  In practice I remember how annoyed I was when I was a kid, and my parents kept talking about how much they’d enjoyed the movie “Working Girl” but wouldn’t let me watch it because of three very brief sex/nudity scenes.  I’d have been perfectly happy to watch a version without said scenes, especially since they’re really quite extraneous (I’m pretty sure they were only there to make sure the movie got rated R instead of PG-13).

    I wouldn’t go for it myself now as an adult who can now watch anything she pleases, but I don’t want them to tell me how I should watch movies, so don’t know that I should tell them how they should watch movies, either.

  • Aaron

    My mom bought us a clear view player back in the day. She was very anti-violence and anti-sex, which is kinda odd because those are the two things our church obsessed over.
    She eventually got rid of it because we always watched movies on the Xbox instead.

  • arcseconds

    I want to eliminate offensive distractions too!

    Are there filters that will eliminate bad science from movies for me?

    It could cut out the highly offensive and totally unnecessary scene where the Matrix displays its appalling understanding of thermodynamics, for example, or most of the technobabble in  Prometheus, or anywhere in Star Trek which displays their complete lack of a sense of proportion.

  • hapax

     I would pay good money for a filter that would automatically remove all romantic triangles from movies.

    Especially if it replaced them with random videos of Neil Patrick Harris showing off his baby pictures.  And explosions.  Or maybe Neil Patrick Harris showing off pictures of his babies exploding things.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

     You just inspired me to look up lots of photos of NPH with his twins. *squees*

    ___________

    My filter needs to take out the bad science from tv shows. (Last week I watched an old episode of CSI, in which (a) they claimed that cars are safe in lightning storms because the rubber tyres insulate them – rather than because they’re Faraday cages – and (b) they said that “terminal velocity is 9.8m/s^2”, which is not what terminal velocity means at all.)

  • Mrs Grimble

     “You just inspired me to look up lots of photos of NPH with his twins. *squees*”

    I’ve never heard of the guy, so I had to look him up.  Still don’t know who the heck he is, but any dad who looks as gorgeous and huggable as his babies is AOK by me!

  • Matri

    I’ve never heard of the guy, so I had to look him up.

    Well, Batman drives him bats.

    :)

  • Lori

    Did you see the photo of NPH, his SO and the twins last Halloween? I think it’s  in the Top 10 cutest things I have ever seen in my life.

    For those who didn’t see it, NPH dressed as Caption Hook, his SO was Peter Pan and the twins were Tinkerbell and Smee.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I want to eliminate offensive distractions too!

    Are there filters that will eliminate bad science from movies for me?

    It could cut out the highly offensive and totally unnecessary scene
    where the Matrix displays its appalling understanding of thermodynamics,
    for example, or most of the technobabble in  Prometheus, or anywhere in Star Trek which displays their complete lack of a sense of proportion.

    The bit in Iron Man about needing an electromagnet to keep the shrapnel out of Tony’s heart. And all the subsequent moments where he doesn’t throw money at doctors to get rid of the shrapnel. And the bit in Iron Man II where he reinvents a new, stable, nonradioactive element.

    The waterboarding scene can go too.

  • arcseconds

    There was a waterboarding scene? Maybe ClearThingy took it out for me.

    I had forgotten about the new element in Iron Man II.  That was aggravating, along with the fact dad had hidden the structure Da-Vinci-code-wise into the town plan (why??? Answer: because the writers wanted to show Stark doing something right cool – solving a puzzle and creating a new element.  The fact that neither of these make any sense is neither here nor there).

    It’s interesting though.  You don’t seem to be troubled by the thought of a suit of armour not more than a few inches thick that can (a) fly and (b) fly around the earth at hypersonic speeds,  and (b) fly around the earth at hypersonic speeds without any fuel.  Going out on a limb here, you probably aren’t too worried by someone turning green, getting larger and gaining mass when they’re angry (as a result of a gamma-ray accident!) or a storm god from ancient mythology turning up through an Einstein-Rosen bridge.

    So why is a new element so troubling? 

    (I think I do have an answer to this, but I’d be interested to know what you think).

    I did rather enjoy watching Downy peer through his curled hand like a telescope at the town plan, pack the enormous thing into his dinky little sports car, and drive off with it, then use Cpt. America’s shield to raise his equipment by a few centimeters.  They set that up rather well, I though.  I was all “oh, no, it’s bounce the particle beam off the main deflector dish time *aaaar_* … no, wait, he’s using it to prop something up.  That’s cool, that’s what real scientists do”.

    Now the rage has subsided and I’ve hitchhiked back to the remains of my apartment wearing stolen clothes I almost think it was worth it.  They could have easily rewritten it to not set me off, though – there’s a non-negligible number of people who paid attention to science lessons in highschool in this world, after all.

    Mind you, I am wondering whether this was some kind of joke now — some kind of tongue-in-cheek reference to the Chuck Norris list.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know why the new element thing sets me off when the giant green rage monster doesn’t and neither does the arc reactor. (Which I assume is what’s powering the suit.) Possibly it’s a ‘this many mcguffins per story’ thing, and the new element is one mcguffin too many. Especially if we count Tony Stark’s apparently-infinite wealth as a mcguffin.

    Waterboarding, getting half drowned, whatever. Afghanistan, between Tony saying ‘I won’t build the missile’ and Tony saying ‘I’ll build the missile if you leave me alone to do it’.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I don’t know why the new element thing sets me off when the giant green rage monster doesn’t and neither does the arc reactor.

    Maybe it’s the “movies exist to make you believe the impossible but not the implausible” thing. 

    Giant green rage monster = impossible; new nonradioactive element = implausible?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I agree. A new, stable superheavy element? Noooooooooooooot likely.

  • Ross Thompson

     

    I agree. A new, stable superheavy element? Noooooooooooooot likely.

    More likely than you might imagine. Especially if you take a generous definition of “stability”, and allow for half-lives in the millions of years.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    By “stable” I meant nonradioactive, but fair enough. That said, the current trends in half-lives in superheavy research don’t inspire that much confidence yet. It’s one thing for half-lives to start climbing back to the seconds-to-possibly-minutes range, and another yet to leap several orders of magnitude to years or longer.

    People have tried looking in primordial rocks for alpha decay tracks or spontaneous fission tracks, but ISTR nobody has conclusively managed to demonstrate that in the early Earth there was a SHE with a million-year half-life.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Unlike reality, fiction must make sense.

  • Donalbain

     “a probable impossibility is to be preferred to a thing improbable and yet possible” – Some olden days dude, who was, by all accounts a bugger for the bottle.

  • arcseconds

    PJ Candy:
     

    Maybe it’s the “movies exist to make you believe the impossible but not the implausible” thing. 

    Giant green rage monster = impossible; new nonradioactive element = implausible?

    Neutrino:

    I agree. A new, stable superheavy element? Noooooooooooooot likely.

    Surely whether or not it’s possible is a matter of physics just as surely as the conservation of mass is?

    So, no, I don’t think that’s the answer :]

    Besides, I think the indications are that in the Avengers universe, atomic physics is nothing like ours.  The diagram in the diaorama looks more like a chemical structure than an atomic structure, yet Stark says something about the positions of the neutrons.

    So my take is that it’s much more like lego down there, and making a new element is to Stark moke like what making a new chemical is to us!  ;-)

  • arcseconds

    My take on why a new element is particularly hard to buy:

    Firstly, briefly note the following:

    *) with fantastic fiction, many of us are quite prepared to buy into stuff that’s part of the set-up.  In your standard space opera you’ve got your hyperspace engines, your force-fields, and your ray guns.  These aren’t scientifically plausible, but one accepts them because they’re there in the background as part of the world.  

    As part of the set-up, they are present as resources to be used by characters to solve their problems.

    Where this goes wrong is when authors go from arbitrary introducing these elements as part of the background to arbitrary introducing them in the midst (often the end, of course) to solve some problem — deus ex machina.  The problem here is that it’s written as though the characters are solving a problem, but really it’s the author just arbitrary stating the problem is solved and papering over the gaping crack in the narrative.

    (No-one would accept a couple in a drama who are portrayed as having substantial relationship difficulties, which drives a lot of the tension and interest in the drama as they try to repair this, only to go to a relationship counsellor who’s ‘really very good’, and walk out the door with all their problems solved)

    So that’s one thing.  The arc reactor and the suit is part of the setup – and the scenes when Stark makes them are expository.  When you go to see an Iron Man movie, you’re going to see what Stark does with his suit.   Creating a new element, rather, solves a problem that’s driving some of the interest in the story – the fact he’s dying.

    *) as a general point, some bits of the setup in the real world are easier to get your audience to suspend belief in.  An example I don’t entirely understand is that we seem to have bought into ‘you can’t go faster than light’ as being a particularly hard-to-shift truth, so we now always need a mcguffin to get around this in scifi.  This wasn’t always the case – in the 20s and 30s you just needed really big rockets to go faster than light (like in Skylark) (and Einstein published his paper on special relativity in 1905) .

    So, now, here’s my theory:

    Elements, for those of us who know anything about them, represent a strict and fundamental categorisation.  They’re determined by the number of protons (which entails their chemical properties), so you can’t just ‘find another’, you can only add on to the end.

    As they are isomorphic to the natural numbers from 1 to a hundred or so, making a new  element is like making (or finding) a new counting number.  It’s like saying ‘well, i know we’ve counted from 1 to 10 in the traditional manner for centuries, but it turns out there is another counting number we’ve missed, which I shall call ‘3a’ (or Cookie Monster)’

    Another comparison would be finding a new colour – not a new shade, but something like a new primary colour.  Now, i know both Pratchett and Lovecraft did this, but I think it’s important to note how they do this.   They don’t just set it up incidentally as a solution to a subplot (‘I couldn’t get my drapes to match my furniture, so I spent an afternoon discovering a new primary colour’).   They know what they’re doing by stipulating this – it’s a big deviation from the world we’re familiar with.  With Lovecraft in particular it’s a piece of ‘non-Euclidean’ madness weirdness that’s supposed to represent the failure of our rational structures.

  • Matri

    You don’t seem to be troubled by the thought of a suit of armour not
    more than a few inches thick that can (a) fly and (b) fly around the
    earth at hypersonic speeds,  and (b) fly around the earth at hypersonic
    speeds without any fuel.

    Actually, your second (b) should be about how he can reach supersonic speeds using nothing more than flat discs that fit into the palms of his hands and soles of his feet. And add a (d) about how that armour can also shrug off .60 caliber bullets with nothing to show for it but a few pockmarks.

    But I, personally,  don’t care. It’s Iron frikkin’ Man!! :D

  • Matri

    Oh, and it’s not a plan of the town. It’s a model of the Stark Expo grounds. Granted, I have no idea where he found that much free  space for an expo that size inside a freaking city…

  • Rhubarbarian82

     

    You don’t seem to be troubled by the thought of a suit of armour not
    more than a few inches thick that can (a) fly and (b) fly around the
    earth at hypersonic speeds,  and (b) fly around the earth at hypersonic
    speeds without any fuel.

    The thing that bothered me most about Iron Man 2 was that Hammer Industries was able to outfit War Machine with the same bulletproof armor that Iron Man’s suit was made out of, but didn’t think to bother outfitting their drones with the same stuff. You know they had the ability because visually, War Machine was quite different from the original suit, and all of it was equally bulletproof. You’d think they’d want to protect their billion dollar plus drones with the same stuff.

    None of that comes anywhere even close to the stupidity of aliens invading Earth because it’s the only source of water in the solar system, though. I was just shouting “Europa! Europa! Europa!” throughout the last act of Battle LA. I’m willing to forgive Treknobabble pretty easily, but the outright ignorance that’s an obvious result of having never cracked open a science book I won’t let slide.

  • arcseconds

     War Machine is also a Tony Stark design, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure.

    I’ve realised that my remark could be taken to mean I’m against the technobabble in Trek.  They’re supposed to be separate items in the one list, not two kinds of technobabble.  i.e. I am greatly irked when Trek writers don’t have any sense of proportion, plus I found the technobabble in Prometheus was annoying.  I’m OK with Trek’s technobabble for the most part. 

    The problem with Prometheus is they get just enough right to make it sound like they’re trying to sing, but enough wrong so it sounds really off key. 

    I don’t really mind technobabble per se: you can reverse the polarity of the neutron flow all you like.

    Not that I’m a huge fan.  Technobabble is usually boring expository dialogue, all too often between characters who know their stuff (and know that each other knows their stuff) so they’d never actually talk like that, so it’s all for the benefit of the audience, plus it doesn’t actually make any sense, hence it’s all too often a turgid, badly written excercise in pointlessness.

    it’s usually better not to explain things. 
     
    Though Trek does seem to strive for some kind of quasi-consistency in their technobabble, which is cute.  But this takes you down the path where it’s difficult for you (especially when ‘you’ is a bunch of writers spanning decades) to keep your story straight. 

    However, given that it’s often used to set up all those atrocious deus ex machina (literally so, usually) endings, I still think it’d be better to outlaw the practice. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I always thought Star Trek technobabble rules were something you might get in a modern-style RPG. Task is given a Difficulty Rating from 1 (easy) to 10 (Scotty); Engineer character needs to employ (X) number of technobabble phrases to accomplish the task.

  • MichaelR

     The War Machine suit isn’t just a Stark design, it’s an actual Stark suit. It’s the Mark II version of the suit, which is the refined model he built after getting home. The kludged together one he used to escape the terrorists near the start (which is later rebuilt into Iron Monger) is the Mark I, and the one he uses in the final fight of the first movie is the Mark III, which is made with a different alloy that won’t ice up when it flies too high.

    Hammer probably didn’t armor up his drones like the War Machine suit because he couldn’t. He couldn’t reverse engineer the technology of the suit completely, all he could do was strap more guns to it.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    I know War Machine was a Stark suit, but it’s visually quite different from the suit Rhodes stole. It doesn’t just have a few guns strapped onto it; the visual design was clearly different – it has a much bulkier silhouette. All of the kibble was just as bulletproof as the underlying suit, so clearly Hammer Industries had some ability to fabricate the material the suit was made out of. Rhodes gets shot at a lot, and the idea they’d hit everything but the kibble is pretty implausible.

    It’s a minor continuity error, but it always bugged me.

    I think Treknobabble is okay as long as it’s a way to paper over some science stuff and move along with the script, but if Geordi just mumbles about using the warp core to power a tachyon stream from the main sensor dish and the problem is magically solved, it’s a deus ex machina. It’s really in the execution of the nonsense, I think. I have the same feelings about “zoom and enhance” in crime shows. It’s a dumb, implausible mechanic, but I also felt like the half-hour of detective work in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo between the guy saying “We can’t zoom in on this, it will just be a blurry mess,” and finding the identity of the person they wanted to ID, was mostly cinematic dead weight. It’s hard to make people Googling things visually interesting. If you want to skip 15 minutes or an hour of that with a movie trope, I’m okay with that mostly.

  • arcseconds

     Actually, my biggest peeve with the medtech was the fact that the palladium was leeching into his bloodstream.  It’s apparently there to drive the reactor, so why does his blood even need to come near it?

    Are we to believe Tony Stark can’t design a watertight doohickey?

    And if not, why does he even need the reactor in his chest? can’t he just wear it on his belt or in a little trendy backpack or something?

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Where else would you put the big, glowy circular reactor but in your chest? Marvel probably wouldn’t want to put the big glowy thing in his crotch like I would. 

  • MaryKaye

    If you’re going to have a service like this, here’s how I’d like it to work:

    (1)  A well-trained ratings team goes through the movie scene by scene and tags all the potentially problematic material.

    (2)  You the movie consumer program your play device with the exact exclusions you want:  let’s say, nudity is fine but no explicit rape or sadism, mild violence, unlimited profanity. 

    (3)  The movie is cut to your specifications based on the tagging.

    This would have the problem of making human fine-tuning of the cuts nearly impossible, so the cutting would likely be awkward, but it would at least give you the movie *you* want to see rather than one someone else thinks you should want to see.

    (Wouldn’t help me, though.  The last several movies I regretted seeing, it’s because the ending was weak, and that’s not going to cut well.  Though _Event Horizon_ might actually have been improved by just suddenly stopping halfway through.  Mm, yes, I think I’d have preferred that.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Event Horizon? Yeaaaaaah I’d agree. I had my hands in front of my face for most of the last ~20 minutes of the film.

    Also quit watching Dreamcatcher because I was doing more hand-covering (except for squinting to see the subtitles) than actual screen watching.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Dreamcatcher: No matter how hard the writing tried to make him the villain, Morgan Freeman was totally right. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Also quit watching Dreamcatcher because I was doing more hand-covering (except for squinting to see the subtitles) than actual screen watching.

    Yes. Thankyou. Someone else who agrees about the shittiness of Dreamcatcher.

    That’s the only movie I’ve seen at the cinema where I wanted to walk out. Unfortunately I was with friends and one of them had the keys to the car, so it was sit in the movie theatre or sit in the carpark at night in the winter. Still not sure I made the right choice.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And the hand-covering wasn’t embarrassment, it was MAJOR squick, that movie. O_O

  • Bruce in South Florida

     I know a guy who works for a company in South Florida that does exactly this. Really. They can edit for time or for content. He says it can take a long, long time to do some jobs…

  • MichaelR

    The thing that made me look at this thing kind of funny was the list of movies they have scrub-files for. Like they have files for things like The Grudge and Final Destination.

    If you don’t want to see scary things like blood or boobs, why are you watching these things in the first place? And if the point of this is to make sure kids don’t see anything you don’t want them to during “family movie night,” why are there files for these movies? If you’re terrified by the thought of your children being exposed to the fact that gay people exist, why would you put on Milk? This just enables lazy and stupid parenting. I’m not going to wag my finger at people for not screening every single movie in full before showing it to the family, but if you can’t hit Wikipedia to see what’s what before showtime, you shouldn’t be doing a “family movie night.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Re: Movie edits on airplanes.

    My parents saw “The Truman Show” for the first time on a trans-Atlantic flight in 1998.  Apparently the version they saw cut out the bit in the travel agency, which had a poster visible in the background showing an airplane being struck by lightening, with the words “It could happen to you!”

    (Trivia fun fact: It COULD happen to you.  Apparently airplanes are struck by lightning all the time.  However, airplanes are designed to shrug off lightning strikes: usually the only damage is the scorch marks.  So while not a lie, it isn’t really something Truman needs to be worried about.)

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I think GDwarf hit the nail on the head:  it’s not that choosing to skip things yourself is a bad thing*, it’s handing the authority off to someone who doesn’t even know you.  There’s no method of making an informed choice that way.  And that’s what’s creepy:  not just that this outfit is telling people to hand off the decision-making about what media they do and don’t filter, but that it’s also telling them that ignorance about exactly what was filtered out for them is the most desirable thing.

    And, as Fred said, the idea of even bothering to watch, say, a slasher flick minus the slashing is just plain odd.  I have a feeling that the aim is for the target consumers to be able to feel like they’re “with it” because they’ve partaken of well-known pop culture, except that they really haven’t.  If they try to discuss the slasherless slasher film with someone outside the bubble, it will be immediately obvious that something’s off.

    As far as making choices about what stuff you’re comfortable with showing to your children, the site Kids in Mind is invaluable.  It describes each film’s content in tones that are as neutral and as spoiler-free as possible, and allows the reader to make an informed decision from there.

    *I will forever have a warm place in my heart for Robert Heinlein, who, right before his narrator was going to describe how a space station worked, had the narrator tell the reader “If you don’t care about ballistics, feel free to skip ahead a bit.  You won’t miss anything.”

  • redcrow

    Yeah, letting someone decide for me what I should and shouldn’t see/read – Do Not Want (…*unless* this is someone I can trust, who knows my squicks and triggers and doesn’t want me to be hurt. But then I most likely asked them about it);  deciding for myself that I’d like to see/read something, but with squicky/triggery/infuriating stuff omitted and having a possibility to do that  – very much Want. Fix-it fics and AUs exist for a reason.

  • Nequam

    Are we really human, or do we short out the human experience, if we eliminate all that causes us trouble?

    Stanislaw Lem had a go at this idea.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Wasn’t it set in the same place where the 64 NY World’s Fair was in our reality? I thought I saw those 3 disk thingys that were alien ships in the Men in Black movie.

  • veejayem

    My mother had a weakness for Michael Douglas ~ I know, I know! When Fatal Attraction was screened on TV I didn’t bother watching as we’d already seen it on video. I wandered back into the living-room later on and Mum said disappointedly, “They cut an awful lot out”. I don’t think she was talking about the bunny-boiling scene …

    And Morgan Freeman is ALWAYS right, which conjures up some alarming cinematic possibilities.

  • Tonio

    Monty Python once sued ABC for making hordes of cuts when it rebroadcast the shows from the fourth series. Douglas Adams described the cuts as eliminating anything that had to do with life. Although PBS had aired Python unedited in places like Iowa with no complaints, the network insisted that it had a responsibility to protect the viewers in such areas. They could be imagining that the typical viewer is an 88-year-old great-grandmother who can’t even bring herself to say “toilet”, but I suspect that such network skittishness is really about fear of losing advertising.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    My absolute, all-time favorite TV edit was The Big Lebowski.  I own the DVD and love the movie, but it was on basic cable one night and I happened to see it and my entire thought  process was, “How can they possibly show this on TV?”

    It got to the part where John Goodman was destroying the Corvette and yelling, “Do you see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass?”

    The edits were:

    “Do you see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?”

    “Do you see what happens when you feed a stranger scrambled eggs?”

    Amazing.  Words didn’t do it justice.  And I’m pretty sure that I saw that 10 years ago, but I still remember the exact replacements.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    Also, too, holy crap.  Midway?  There’s a Clear Play filter for Midway?

    I’m going to go cry in a corner now.

  • CoolHandLNC

    Somehow ClearPlay doesn’t bother me. Maybe if those folks can censor what they see, they won’t be as adamant about censoring what I see. Maybe. I hope. OK, I wish.

    I wonder if there is a filter to take out unnecessary scenes that don’t advance the plot in any way, but were inserted to appeal to a particular audience or display a cool special effect?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I wonder if there is a filter to take out unnecessary scenes that don’t
    advance the plot in any way, but were inserted to appeal to a particular
    audience or display a cool special effect?

    * chuckle *

    I hold out some hope for something similar to this, actually.

    That is, I assume that people who produce movies are perfectly well aware that there exist multiple different audiences with predictably different tastes, and that different kinds of scenes appeal differently to those audiences, and I assume that part of the marketing effort underlying a movie distribution is deciding what audiences the movie ought to appeal to and balancing the distribution of scenes in the movie accordingly. I can imagine, in a technological generation or two, the existence of media players such that media content providers can tag the internal structure of their content (rather than the item as a whole) to indicate the presence or absence of things those audiences are known to care about, and the players can use that information to stitch together variants on the fly.

    The point being that the creators of the film are in a far better position to identify what audiences are being targetted with which scenes than an automated mechanism is of recognizing the fact after the film is made. This is similar to the sense that it’s usually easier to edit a multi-layer Photoshop file than it is to edit the flattened graphic produced from it.

    This needn’t just involve removing things from the general-distribution version, either. For example, a  CSI episode might include optional scenes that go into the underlying forensic science in much greater detail, for people who like that sort of thing, or might include optional scenes that explicitly show the villain-of-the-week being influenced by Satan, for people who like that sort of thing.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Or the scenes inserted only because the movie will be shown in 3D and there’s got to be something flying at the audience or they won’t realize it?

  • Dragoness Eclectic

     

    I wonder if there is a filter to take out unnecessary scenes that don’t
    advance the plot in any way, but were inserted to appeal to a particular
    audience or display a cool special effect?

    Well, for “The Phantom Menace” and “Attack of the Clones”, I must recommend “The Phantom Edit” and “Attack of the Phantom”, as the Phantom Editor’s revised versions do a lot of that. Especially with Jar-jar Bink’s badly-timed “antics”.

  • Laertesweb

    Looks to me like a really interesting question.  You can’t sell bowdlerized versions of other people’s movies.  A few years ago someone tried a scheme by which they’d make edits to your copy of a movie, and that didn’t pass muster either.

    This new scheme is interesting.  They’re not editing your recording of the film.  They’re just editing your data stream before it reaches your TV.  Practically speaking there’s no difference, but legally there might be.

    I’m deeply unsympathetic to the movie industry’s expansive view of their own intellectual property rights, and I’m also unsympathetic to the kind of people who want to think that they’re engaging with art but insist on wearing hazmat suits when they do it.  I wish there was a way for both sides to lose.

  • Tonio

    That equation leaves out the people who actually create the works, as opposed to the impresarios and middle parties who don’t create but who reap much of the benefits. The movie industry’s stance on intellectual property rights usually benefits the latter at the expense of the former.

    If I were a director or screenwriter, ClearPlay would probably bother me more than would, say, the phenomenon of fans making their own edits. The ClearPlay users are choosing to shield themselves from the work as the creator (hopefully) envisioned it. It’s a deliberate form of ignorance, where the viewer doesn’t even care that hir judgment of a film is based on incomplete information. Reminds me of people who choose only to watch the movie adaptations of novels.

    Offhand I can think of only one exception to the rule “the book is always better,” and that’s the Godfather novel. I still remember my disappointment when, as a teenager, I saw The Secret of NIMH and realized that Don Bluth had left out the entire message of the original novel.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I suspect that if I were a filmmaker, ClearPlay would upset me, but not as much as the fact that DVD players allow the viewer to pause, rewind, or fast-forward at their own discretion, or the fact that I can’t control the size of the audience’s screen, or make them keep the room dark while they’re watching. I’m making *art* here, you philistines.

  • MaryKaye

    Hasbro made them change her name as they felt “Frisby” was actionably close to “Frisbee”(tm). Or at least so I heard in an interview with Bluth.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    My intuition is that it was likely not actionably close in and of itself, but it would have presented a problem when they inevitably tried to sell action figures (This happens in The Transformers franchise sometimes, causing certain transformers to have different names in the merch than on-screen)

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    From everything I’ve heard about Benchley’s novel Jaws, the movie is better.  Spielberg wisely decided to omit the soap-operatic love triangle, for one thing.

    There were a few things in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets which the film version did better:  Parseltongue and Lucius Malfoy.  In fact, Rowling liked Jason Isaac’s interpretation of the character so much that she wrote it into subsequent books.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Personally, I think The Davinci Code and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix both benefitted greatly from being trimmed down to fit feature film-length. 

    I tend to like movies which go pretty far afield from the source novel, especially when i’ve read the novel. Because otherwise, what’s the point? I already know *that* story. 

    (My understanding, not having read the books, is that ‘Jumper’ and ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ both have more interesting plots intheir film adaptations than the original books, which were more interested in thinking about the implications of their concept than about actually telling one specific story)

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Personally, I think The Davinci Code and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix both benefitted greatly from being trimmed down to fit feature film-length.

    When The Golden Compass came out it had been years since I’d read the book. I was briefly baffled by people complaining about how much had been left out because I didn’t notice anything missing, then I remembered that at some point I got bored with the side-plots and skimmed anything that wasn’t focused on Lyra. Apparently the scriptwriters had done the same.

  • Tonio

    The film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince left out quite a bit as well, at times seeming like an outline of the book. The deletions left the background and identity of the Prince mostly unexplained, and these also took away some of the depth of the the conflict between Harry and Snape.

    The opening seen was strange as well – it looked like a setup for a sitcom joke where the server mocks Harry’s young age. The idea of Harry as a sex symbol (which was hinted at in the book) just seems wrong somehow. Similar to how Smallville had Clark receiving attention from just about every eligible woman on the show, except Harry seems more vulnerable because of his age. Even the scene where Lavender Brown makes Ron’s hospitalization all about her, only to hear him mumble the identity of his true love, could have come from a sitcom, although I did laugh at the scene.

  • Cactus_Wren

    I am startled, and distressed, and deeply disturbed, to learn that there is a “ClearPlay-filtered” version of Kiki’s Delivery Service.  What could they possibly filter out?  Kiki riding her broomstick?  Kiki in her underwear (a sleeveless vest and nearly knee-length bloomers)?  Osono’s pregnancy?

    Deird:

    Are there filters that will eliminate bad science from movies for me?

    How about a warning?  Something like this?

    Tonio: 

    Monty Python once sued ABC for making hordes of cuts when it rebroadcast the shows from the fourth series.

      I believe they actually bleeped out — in a show running at eleven-thirty at night — the final two words in the sentence, “They washed their hands, their feet, and then they washed their naughty bits.”

    Geds: 

    My absolute, all-time favorite TV edit was The Big Lebowski.

      Mine was the TV print of Two-Minute Warning.  The actual film is about a sniper at what we’re clearly supposed to interpret as the Super Bowl.  We never find out why he has concealed himself and a high-powered rifle at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum:  the entire focus of the movie is on whether he’s going to be discovered, and after he is, on whether they’ll be able to take him out of action without dozens of people being killed.

    When it first aired on NBC in 1978, two years after it was released, the network was afraid that simply showing it might trigger “copycat” incidents, so they arranged to add material to it.  The TV print of Two-Minute Warning is possibly the worst, and very likely the strangest, heist flick ever made.  The sniper in this version is a decoy, hired by a gang of art thieves to create a distraction and lure the cops to the Super Bowl so they can steal the goods and get away undetected.

    Ross, about Secret of NIMH:

    Also, he inexplicably changed the main character’s name. It was part of the freaking TITLE OF THE BOOK.

    Bluth didn’t:  UA did.  He recorded every line with her name as “Mrs. Frisby”, and then had to re-record them as “Mrs. Brisby” when the studio expressed concern that child viewers would only associate her name with a flying disk toy.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I believe they actually bleeped out — in a show running at eleven-thirty at night — the final two words in the sentence, “They washed their hands, their feet, and then they washed their naughty bits.”

    That just makes it sound dirtier!

  • GDwarf

     

    I am startled, and distressed, and deeply disturbed, to learn that there is a “ClearPlay-filtered” version of Kiki’s Delivery Service.

    What?

    WHAT?

    I…but…

    Alright, it’s an amazing film, and the more people who see it, the better, even in edited form (with luck it’ll get them to watch the original) but what could they possibly have edited out? All the magic? The occasional, non-sexual, bloomers shots? It’s a movie that Disney had no issue dubbing and releasing without edit and putting their name on. It’s aimed at a younger audience. I…buh.

    I could see it with, say, Princess Mononoke, which has some very violent scenes…except that, of course, the scenes are supposed to make you feel uncomfortable.

    What next? An edit of Ponyo without the title character ’cause that’s promoting bestiality?

  • Tricksterson

    Let’s see, Clear Play, I know not of but from the talk here I’m assuming it’s run by RTCs or at least that’s the major audience?  So my guess would be the parts that get edited out are anything referring to kiki as a witch or to the supernatural.  Yes, I;ve seen it and yes that strikes me as absurd as it doubtless strikes you but that’s the only thing i can come up with.

  • GDwarf

    I’m reminded of the Blockbuster box for…The Two Towers, I think it was, that included a list of things that audiences might wish to be aware of before watching the movie. It had only one item:

    “Drug use: A man smokes a pipe”

    Which was so absurd that I remember it much better than the movie. Never mind the fact that the violent battles aren’t mentioned, no one would object to those, I guess. Never mind that incidentally portraying someone as smoking a pipe is probably not going to corrupt today’s youth. Just the fact that it’s “Drug use”. I mean, it’s technically correct, but I half-wonder if they thought Pipeweed was secretly crack or something.

  • Tricksterson

    During the Sixties and Seventies it was a meme that pipeweed wasn’t tobacco but  marijuana.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Actually, your second (b) should be about how he can reach supersonic speeds using nothing more than flat discs that fit into the palms of his hands and soles of his feet. And add a (d) about how that armour can also shrug off .60 caliber bullets with nothing to show for it but a few pockmarks.

    .60 caliber bullets, nothing – it eats a 120mm SABOT with nothing but a scratch.

    Also, that arc reactor has an output measured in gigawatts

    I was just shouting “Europa! Europa! Europa!” throughout the last act of Battle LA. 

    Most.  Common.  Compound.  In the universe.  Even the absolutely terrible ‘what if aliens invaded!’ documentary I found on Science channel got that one right.  (That documentary was amusing.  Complete failure of logic, with a side order of Oh John Ringo No, but kind of amusing.

  • lowtechcyclist

    From a practical POV, I can see this sort of thing making some sense with, say, Good Will Hunting.  There’s a s***load (sorry, couldn’t resist) of profanity in that movie, but it’s not like it’s essential to the story of a blue-collar math genius who works as a janitor at  an elite university, and is discovered when he solves a previously unsolved problem that a professor has left on a blackboard as a challenge for his students.

    To flip this around, Napoleon Dynamite could have included profanity and mild sex/nudity, but it didn’t, and there really wasn’t a big hole left by their absence in the actual film.   Imagine GWH written the same way.

    On the whole, though, I think it’s a pretty stupid idea, especially for adults.  I mean, c’mon, if you’re a grownup Christian and you believe that your faith is stronger than the world, rather than the other way around, you’re not going to be harmed by some expletives or mild nudity.  I can see the point of something like this if you want to show a movie like GWH to your 10 year old kid, or your 80 year old Aunt Mildred.  But anyone else who wants this for their own benefit should just grow up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Adding something very late to the Iron Man conversation, but this is something I’ve thought about a lot in speculative fiction. James Kakalios’ excellent The Physics of Superheroes address the idea of the “miracle exception” that the audience will
    accept, however outlandish, but then you have to tell a plausible story
    with that miracle exception.

    I’m willing to accept just about any premise, but you have to follow through on that premise logically. So in Iron Man, tiny supergenerators and near-indestructible power armor is fine – but a new, stable heavy element that cures metal poisoning? (Witness Stark’s veins go back to normal as soon as the new reactor starts up.) That doesn’t fall under the premise, and is not set up properly in the film itself. (It does work if you watch IM2 after Captain America, which retroactively sets up Howard Stark’s discovery.)

    Similarly, I could not stand John Woo’s Face/Off. I can accept super-surgery transplanting faces easily, but the film acts as if they switched bodies entirely. Why not just do that?

  • danno

    Golly, Fred, people of like minds get together all the time. Are you saying atheists shouldn’t have conferences, Democrats shouldn’t have conventions, comic book fans shouldn’t gather together? oh, wait … oh, I see now. The other people who can’t gather with one another are Christians. I understand now….

  • http://crissa.twu.net/ Crissa

    My sister – target market for such Christian music – would openly protest a music festival that allowed the anti-gay sorts to proliferate. So would most her friends.

    But on the other hand, many others who either sell stuff or run stuff still want to include their anti-gay friends, so they also don’t have a big support. So there’s that.

    However, I think things are more clearly in my sister’s hands. She’s still quite faithful – but not in any sort of denomination or politics that includes division.


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