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FIRST-PERSON: What’s Hollywood’s motive?

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–The Directors Guild of America insists that if you want to enjoy Hollywood’s films you should be forced to endure gratuitous sex, inane violence and prolific profanity. Sadly, a federal judge in Colorado agrees.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch ruled recently that companies offering sanitized versions of movie releases on DVD must cease and desist production, sale and rentals of edited discs. Additionally, the judge ordered the companies — CleanFlicks, CleanFilms, Play It Clean Video and Family Flix -– to turn over all existing copies of their edited films to the studios’ lawyers for destruction within five days of the ruling.

For the uninitiated, the aforementioned companies provide consumers with cleaned-up versions of movies both current and past.

When purchasing a sanitized version, customers have to indicate that they already own the original version of the edited movie or they must purchase the authorized DVD from the editing company. It is clear, however, that many movie fans fed up with nudity, sex, violence and foul language are willing to pay for the sanitizing services the companies provide.

I find it interesting that the Directors Guild of America did not sue the companies for loss of revenue, because for every edited version each company would rent or sell, they would purchase an original copy of the movie or insure the consumer had done so. It is very likely that the sanitizing companies put money into Hollywood’s pockets.

The DGA claimed the suit was about protecting the integrity of its members’ original productions. “So we have a great passion about protecting our work, which is our signature and brand identification, against unauthorized editing,” DGA President Michael Apted told Reuters news service.

Apted’s argument rings hollow when you understand that the DGA also is opposed to ClearPlay, a company that provides software programs developed to edit specific movies. Consumers run the programs on their computers or on ClearPlay’s proprietary DVD player and content is edited. With ClearPlay, the original production is unaltered.

Congress passed the 2005 Family Movie Act that protects ClearPlay and other software-based filtering companies. In its statement concerning the win against editing companies, the DGA indicated it “remained concerned about this exception to copyright protection.”

I really do not understand the DGA’s concern with either the editing companies or the software-based products. Studios have long offered cleaned-up versions of their films for television and the airline industry.

The editing companies do not alter the story of the movies they clean up. In fact, there are movies they won’t attempt to sanitize because so much would have to be cut that there would be little left of the story or the movie.

Every person I know who has ever watched a cleaned-up film from one of the editing companies has responded the same way. “The movie was great without all the cursing, sex, etc…,” they typically said. “Why do they put all that junk in?”

I believe the main reason the DGA is upset with the editing companies has to do with motive.

For years now, a significant section of the movie-going public has asked Hollywood to make more family friendly films. The response from the studios has been a broken record. The film industry maintains it would be glad to make clean movies if only people would watch them.

Family friendly movies, when well-done, have proven to be profitable time and time again. In recent years, the few true family films Hollywood has produced have been among the most successful. Couple that with the fact that many movies are well-received when cleaned up, and Hollywood’s reason for not making family friendly fare is moot.

The editing companies exposed the real motive of Hollywood. While the film industry has long maintained that it only reflects society, it is clear that it really wants to influence it. And, according to the movies Tinsel Town repeatedly produces, the culture Hollywood desires is overflowing with gratuitous sex, inane violence and prolific profanity.

A Colorado judge has the ability to restrict consumer choice by shutting companies that offer edited versions of movies. However, he is impotent to shut down the consumer’s greatest ability and that is to simply walk away from an undesirable product.

It is time to send Hollywood a message and just say no to the human degradation that permeates so many of its productions.
Kelly Boggs is editor of the Baptist Message newspaper in Louisiana.

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  • Kelly Boggs