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Volume 70, Issue 132, Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Film sanitizers harbor delusions

Sarah Morgan 
Opinion columnist

A fairly new censorship phenomenon is taking place thanks to the digital age. According to the Washington Post, several "Family-Friendly" companies are editing out some of the more violent, crude or sexual scenes from hundreds of movies, including both blockbusters and independent films without directorsi consent.

These editors have dubbed themselves film "sanitizers," and scenes they have edited include everything from the graphic scenes at the beginning of Saving Private Ryan to a scene in the SpongeBob SquarePants Movie where the male starfish character sings and dances while dressed in fishnet stockings and high heels. Apparently, the SpongeBob scene was too homosexual.

I wonder if theyive tackled Tootsie yet, or White Chicks, for that matter.

These editors are tampering with someone elseis artistic product and, rightfully so, several directors are speaking up about it. 

I mean whatis next? Michaelangelois "David" in a pair of pants and a T-shirt? Or a dress painted onto Botticelliis "Venus?" Where do we draw the line?

Perhaps pages will be ripped from Hemingway s war novels, or the pivotal scenes of sexual awakening in James Joyceis Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will be removed.

Whatis even more disturbing about this new practice is that many of the scenes that are being altered or cut actually serve as morals in the movie.

The war scenes in Saving Private Ryan remind the viewer of the atrocities of war and the hardships these men faced. Another scene the sanitizers left on the cutting room floor is from the movie Traffic. One character in the movie becomes a prostitute in order to finance her drug habit. This scene doesnit glamorize drug use or prostitution. On the contrary -- it shows the horrific consequences of drug addiction.

Ironically, the Post reports, these editors are shying away from The Passion of the Christ, because, as Sandra Teraci of Family Flix said, "everyone has already seen it."

Other scenes are trivial and could only be construed as offensive to the most sheltered individuals, such as Kate Winsletis nude scene in Titanic, which sanitizers are also targeting. When did the human body become so offensive? We all have one.

As for the sanitizers, Teraci told the Post, "A lot of people want to go back to the 1950s, before this sort of thing was routine."

If this is the case, then perhaps sanitzers should consider editing a few things in. Maybe throw in a little McCarthyism, a few experiments with hydrogen bombs, and edit all of the black people out -- except for those seated at the back of the bus, of course. And the 50s were filled with their own censorship issues, like those concerning Elvis Presley and the emergence of rock ini roll.

In most cases, these are adult movies targeted at mature audiences. These edits are not protecting children in any way, and adults who wish to watch these films should know what they are getting themselves into -- hence the R rating. Watching a movie about drug use or war is quite different from catching the latest Disney remake.

On that same note, isnit that what the fast forward button is for? And with DVDs, viewers can simply skip an entire scene if they find it that offensive.

In some ways, I understand that both television and movies continue to push the envelope with violence and sexual content. Iim the first to bury my head when those war scenes in Private Ryan start rolling. I wonit even attend horror movies because I canit stand the gore that most include. But I understand that it is their choice to include it, and it is my choice not to watch it.

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