Editing Companies Show Family Friendly R Films Are Possible
- Wednesday, July 20, 2005
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It's an embarrassing moment millions of parents have experienced – enjoying a movie at home with their family when a seemingly harmless film turns offensive.
A few seconds of profanity and sexual dialogue ruin the evening, with mom and dad left bewildered and wondering, "Why was that in there?"
Thanks to DVD technology and a few innovative companies, mom and dad now can enjoy movie night in peace.
Three young companies – CleanFilms, CleanFlicks and Family Flix – offer family-safe edited DVD versions of PG, PG-13 and R movies, deleting the objectionable content. Another budding company, ClearPlay, sells a DVD player with the capability of muting profanity and "skipping" offensive scenes.
In all instances, the profanity, sexual dialogue, nudity and graphic violence are gone. PG movies become G-rated. R movies turn PG-friendly. And movie night becomes less worrisome.
"It's a wonderful option for families," Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press. "The argument that Hollywood makes [about movies] – that this is the way the world is and you can't sugarcoat it – is nonsense."
But while thousands of families have embraced the industry – CleanFilms alone claims nearly 10,000 customers – Hollywood's reaction hasn't been so kind. Movie directors have sued the companies, asserting they are infringing on artistic license.
Congress has provided some protection, passing a bill that was signed into law by President Bush in April, shielding ClearPlay and similar companies from lawsuits. But the new law, called the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, apparently does not protect the other three companies – that is, the ones like CleanFilms that physically alter the DVD.
Among the four companies, ClearPlay's service is unique in that it works with the original, unedited version of the movie. The ClearPlay DVD player is pre-programmed with filters for hundreds of movie titles that tell it when to mute or skip over objectionable content. Filters for the latest movies are downloadable online, and parents can customize the filters to fit their preferences. The ClearPlay DVD player retails for around $199.
Each of the companies has hundreds of movie titles.
"There's no question that Hollywood movies are getting edgier and edgier," ClearPlay CEO Bill Aho told BP. "You find sex and language and violence creeping into more and more movies. I don't think that these trends in Hollywood reflect the values that parents have for their families."
The other three companies – CleanFilms, CleanFlicks and Family Flix – differ significantly from ClearPlay in their approach. They offer edited movies, maintaining they are within the law because they keep a 1-to-1 ratio between edited and original copies. That is, for each edited movie they rent or sell, they purchase an original copy of the movie. When purchasing a movie, customers receive two DVDs – an edited copy plus a disabled original version that is not viewable.
CleanFilms CEO John E. Richards says edited movies are the best option because it allows families to avoid having unedited R- and PG-13-rated movies in their home. Children would watch them when their parents aren't around, he says.
"I think it's great what ClearPlay is doing. I want them to be successful. But for my family, it's not right," he said. " ... I have four teenagers in my home, and they're curious. That's why we believe strongly in our model."
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