Sunday, August 6, 2006

An Unpopular Opinion

I'm about to make a really unpopular opinion, at least in Utah County. You don't have to like it, you don't have to agree with it, you don't even have to read it. But I'm standing by it.

Let's say there's a sandwich shop nearby, that you've heard makes a really killer sandwich. You've seen the commercials, you've heard friends talk about it, and it sounds like a really, really good sandwich. The problem is, you know, either from the commercials, your friends, even restaurant reviews that there's something in the sandwich that you know will make you ill. Let's say it's a spread, like some kind of spoiled mayonnaise or something. Still, it sounds like a really good sandwich.

And then, relief comes. There's some guy out front that is willing to buy the sandwich, scrape off the spread, and sell it to you for a pretty good price. Now you can enjoy that sandwich that everybody's talking about! You head on down, buy a sandwich from the new guy, and dig in. The problem is, bread is pretty pourous. As much as the new guy scrapes, there's still just a little bit of the spread in every bite. But there's so little, you ignore it. It's not like the huge smear that was on there before. You still get sick, but just a little, so you don't even think about it. It was a pretty good sandwich. Before long, you're buying all your sandwiches from this guy. Some have more spread than others, but when he's done with them, you're pretty confident he's gotten enough off so that you can enjoy it. Sometimes the sandwich is pretty good, sometimes it's just okay, and sometimes you wish you hadn't bought it in the first place.

Maybe this is a little bit of a stretch. Let me simplify it for you. If I make you a sandwich that you want, and then I spit in it, and then I cut out the part that I spit in and give it to you, would you still want it? If I made a beautiful vegetable soup and then dropped a skunk in it, then somebody else took the skunk out for you, would you still want to eat it?

This is why I'm not sad about the ruling against CleanFlicks. In fact, this is why I've always hated the concept of CleanFlicks. If the content was there in the first place, it doesn't matter how much language you try to clean up or how many scenes you cut, the content will still be there. You're not making a statement by buying the cleaned up version. If CleanFlicks is in fact buying a copy of the movie for each one they sell to you, then Hollywood isn't losing any money on the deal. In fact, now that you're paying to watch the edited version of the film you wouldn't have seen before, you're actually giving Hollywood more money than they would have gotten before. And since the biggest thing they care about is the money, the increased cashflow does little more than encourage them to make more movies like that.

I'm not mad that Hollywood struck back at CleanFlicks. I wouldn't be mad if the sandwich shop chased off the guy out from out front that was operating without permission, without credentials and very likely without a food handler's permit. When somebody cuts out part of Picasso's Guernica and tries to pretend that it's not nearly as sad as it is, that makes me mad. When somebody puts a fig leaf in front of Michaelangelo's David and tries to pretend that there's no nudity, that makes me mad. I'm not saying that bad movies should be considered works of art. I'm saying that you're kidding yourself. Even worse, you're supporting the very thing that you're claiming to protest. If I tried to pull the same thing, I would live with a daily guilt that I was being hypocritical.

There's more to life than sandwiches. If you don't want a sandwich, buy some soup. If you don't want what's in the soup, buy some pork chops. It's up to you what you choose to put into your body and mind. If you know you don't want to put something into your body or mind, don't kid yourself by putting only a little of it in.

4 comments:

  1. I agree with some of your points, and disagree with others. Let me give you another just-as-valid analogy.

    You go to such-and-so famous restaurant in Las Vegas and you get that one really good plate because you just love X. But you don't like Y, which comes as a side. Now let's say the restaurant is less than helpful and insists on serving Y with X. Now with food of course you can just not eat Y and life is good.

    Now with a movie you don't have the option of not consuming the side dish (unless you are quick with the earplugs and closing your eyes, I guess). Therein lies the problem.

    I agree that it's often the case that you can't really remove the "badness" (mayonaise), but sometimes you can remove that one bit effectively (a pickle or leaf of lettuce).

    I think it's better to vote with your dollar and just reject wholesale the movies that you think are in bad taste, but I think it's a really bad thing for the courts to tell us what we can and can't do with movies after we buy them. I don't want the restaurant telling me I have to eat Y when I order X, or else. I certainly don't want the government backing up the restaurant and calling me or my friend a criminal for ordering a sandwich with pickles and removing the pickles (or hiring someone else to remove the pickles, as absurd as that would be).

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  2. As it turns out, I did go to such-and-so's restaurant in Las Vegas, and I did order that one really good plate because I love chicken, black beans, etc. I don't really like avocados, which came on the plate. But I placed my trust in the chef to make the avocados into something I would like, which he did. Why would I even bother going to the really nice restaurant if I wasn't interested in the chef's abilities? I might as well go to Burger King and get it "My Way". Hopefully I'll end up liking what the chef has to offer, but there's always the chance that I won't. I'm willing to take that risk.

    The government isn't telling you what to watch. They're not telling you that you can't fast-forward through the parts you don't want to see. In fact, the DVD player that does just that is still legal.

    As far as I'm concerned, going out and editing somebody else's movie, without their permission, is no more ethical than ebaumsworld going out and putting their logo on things without permission, even if due credit is supposedly given, or the intent is supposedly for a good cause. If CleanFlicks had actually gotten permission, that's one thing. I still wouldn't give them my money (for my aforementioned reasons), but at least they would have done it legally, and ethically.

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  3. Thumbs up, Joe. Thumbs up.

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  4. I agree as well. I've never agreed with the idea of CleanFlicks. In my mind, the people that use CleanFlicks are trying to rationalize doing something they normally wouldn't.

    From the beginning its always brought the idea to mind "Rationalization is masterbation. You're only screwing yourself."

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