Culture: July 2004 Archives

Why bleep?


Okiedoke wonders why people would use a service like Clean Flicks to edit the bad stuff out of the movies they rent for home viewing:

A company called CleanFlicks is taking movies and editing out all graphic violence, nudity, profanity, and sexual content.

What I donít get is why folks who are offended by immorality in certain movies want to rent those movies in the first place.

I think I can offer an example. Last night, my wife and I went to see "The Terminal", which stars Tom Hanks as an eastern European tourist who gets stuck for nine months in the international lounge at Kennedy Airport because of a coup in his home country and an inflexible bureaucrat here. It was the kind of movie my wife and I seem to gravitate toward -- a quiet little movie about a fish out of water, and the comedy inherent in cross-cultural encounters. Afterwards we both agreed it was a great choice.

Thinking back on the movie, it occurred to me that there were only two reasons to rate the film PG-13. The flight attendant, played by Catherine Zeta Jones, talks about her long-term affair with a married man (art imitates life!); you don't see anything untoward on screen, but I guess that would count as an adult theme. She also makes use of some barnyard epithets which aren't integral to the plot -- you could have easily substituted minced oaths without losing anything. It was pretty close to being a film the whole family could enjoy together, but I certainly don't want to expose my kids to bad language anymore than necessary. I don't want them growing up thinking this is the way grownups normally speak to one another.

I sometimes think they throw in a little garbage to prevent a film from being rated G, for fear of losing at the box office. I give David Lynch, of all directors, credit for letting "The Straight Story" (another film we enjoyed) keep its G rating, and not dirtying it up to get the PG.

That's the point of CleanFlicks: There are movies that come pretty close in their original form to being something that the whole family could enjoy together, and with a little editing they are. It would be better if modern filmmakers learned to exercise the kind of creativity that their predecessors of 50 years ago did -- getting the point across without resorting to foul language and gratuitous sex and violence.



Blogging has been lax and infrequent the last two weeks because of travel. First a week with the family in West Texas and San Antonio -- every day started early and ended late. After about 36 hours back in Tulsa, I was in a plane to Montreal, on business -- the days are still long, but oddly not as tiring as the family vacation was.

One of the many pleasures of travel is scanning the radio dial and comparing the selections to what's on back home. The other afternoon, coming back from lunch, I heard what I thought might be singing in Portuguese at first, but later identified as Italian. It was a music program -- American and British pop songs from the '60s, but sung in Italian. The intro to one of the songs was big, brassy, and orchestral, with an oohing and ahhing choir in the background and I expected to hear Dusty Springfield belting out her hit, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me". Instead it was some man singing the same song in Italian. It was strange but fun to listen to hear familiar tunes and unfamiliar words, but over too soon as I arrived back at the workplace.

(UPDATE: Further Googling reveals the song was originally written in Italian, then translated to English.)

The radio station is CFMB, and they aren't all Italian all the time, but seek to cater to the 30% or so of Montreal's population that are neither native Anglophones or native Francophones. They broadcast each week in 23 different languages, some for as little as 30 minutes, but how wonderful to be able to tune in and hear your native tongue and news from home even for a short while each week. And even if you don't know the language, it's a joy to hear the "music" of different languages -- each one with its unique rhythm and intonation.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Culture category from July 2004.

Culture: June 2004 is the previous archive.

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