Outsourcing Morality or: Watching Deadpool on VidAngel

ulysses_and_the_sirens_by_h-j-_draper

Ulysses and the Sirens by H.J. Draper (Source)

One of the best known episodes in The Odyssey addresses a universal truth—namely, mankind’s struggle with deadly but irresistible appeal:

“Now pay attention to what I am about to tell you—heaven itself, indeed, will recall it to your recollection. First you will come to the Sirens who enchant all who come near them. If any one unwarily draws in too close and hears the singing of the Sirens, his wife and children will never welcome him home again, for they sit in a green field and warble him to death with the sweetness of their song. There is a great heap of dead men’s bones lying all around, with the flesh still rotting off them. Therefore pass these Sirens by, and stop your men’s ears with wax that none of them may hear; but if you like you can listen yourself, for you may get the men to bind you as you stand upright on a cross-piece half way up the mast, and they must lash the rope’s ends to the mast itself, that you may have the pleasure of listening. If you beg and pray the men to unloose you, then they must bind you faster.

Odysseus and his men proceed with their journey, taking Circe’s advice:

“I stopped the ears of all my men, and they bound me hands and feet to the mast as I stood upright on the crosspiece; but they went on rowing themselves. When we had got within earshot of the land, and the ship was going at a good rate, the Sirens saw that we were getting in shore and began with their singing.

“‘Come here,’ they sang, ‘renowned Ulysses, honour to the Achaean name, and listen to our two voices. No one ever sailed past us without staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song- and he who listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we know all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans before Troy, and can tell you everything that is going to happen over the whole world.’

“They sang these words most musically, and as I longed to hear them further I made by frowning to my men that they should set me free; but they quickened their stroke, and Eurylochus and Perimedes bound me with still stronger bonds till we had got out of hearing of the Sirens’ voices. Then my men took the wax from their ears and unbound me.

Fortunately for the protagonist, he survives this brush with deadly temptation and lives to fight again. But what about those of us who aren’t epic heroes with a loyal crew and helpful advice from a powerful goddess?

Like me, for example. Last February I was visiting family in Southern California. After taking in the USS Iowa, my brother and I retired to nearby Long Beach for dinner. Since we were footloose and fancy-free that night, we decided to attend the cinema. So we walked across the street to the cineplex and got in line for tickets. While waiting we scanned the movie posters. We’re a couple of fuddy-duddies who are hopelessly out of the loop. We hadn’t heard of anything, but it appeared to be the opening night for some film called Deadpool. Huh. Never heard of it. It was sold out anyway, so we ended up in some period piece with Leonardo DiCaprio dressed in a bearskin and sleeping in a horse.

A few months later on a business trip I ended up watching Deadpool. It was on a Korean Air flight, and the version I watched was compliant with Korean restrictions on broadcasting nudity. At any rate, a plumber’s crack that appeared during the flesh-tearing opening sequence was digitally blurred. I don’t know how much sex was cut out since I never saw the original cut, but there was enough foul-mouthed violence left to sear my conscience. I exited the plane a shaken man. If only there was a way a good Mormon could watch what their peers are watching while tied to a post!

Wait, there is! Er, make that was. By now I’m sure you’ve heard that a California judge has sided with Big Hollywood and issued an injunction against Provo-based pirate streaming filtering service VidAngel. To be honest, I didn’t even know what VidAngel was or did until recently. It’s not available where I live, and it wasn’t until friends and family from back home started posting clips with that guy from Studio C on a popular social media site for middle-aged parents that I learned something was at stake–Mormon enjoyment of previously forbidden fruit!

From the comments here it’s clear that VidAngel has discovered a rich seam:

we love watching filtered movies. Without the filtering, we WILL NOT watch most of them

The world NEEDS your service.

We love the service Vid Angel provides. Without Vid Angel filtering we will not view many movies our family would enjoy.

It has opened my family up to seeing some absolutely incredible movies that have had some stuff that we just haven’t wanted to see or hear. WE LOVE AND WANT VIDANGEL TO CONTINUE

Well, you get the idea. VidAngel is offering a path to citizenship legitimization of the taboo through filtering, and apparently there is some pent-up demand for such a service. I think I can get that. We’re social creatures, and pop culture no doubt features heavily in discussions around the water cooler. I grew up without a TV in the house, so I know what it’s like to not be able to discuss the latest The Simpson’s episode with your friends on Monday morning. Not being able to join in such discussions because of one’s religion is as awkward as showing up to after-work drinks and ordering an orange juice. So, yeah, I can see where VidAngel offers a service that opens new vistas to Mormons who take the prophet’s counsel to the young men seriously to avoid R-rated movies and entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic.

What does surprise me a little, however, are sentiments like the one expressed in the Trib’s coverage:

“Violence in a war movie doesn’t bother me,” he said, but nudity or strong language does.

Which brings me back to Deadpool. Today I came across a conversation among acquaintances in which one participant casually noted that the family had watched it on VidAngel, taking in stride the warnings that deleting certain scenes affects the plot. I must admit that I raised an eyebrow. This family may not yet have featured in the Ensign, but they probably should. They are the kind of people I aspire to become. I am a slacker who doesn’t let rating get in the way of an evening’s entertainment. And yet here they were—filtering Deadpool! A send-up of the comic book movie genre, for heaven’s sake, full of gratuitous violence! What is left that is virtuous, lovely, or of good report once it’s been scrubbed? Damning the torpedoes and (secretly) indulging in Deadpool strikes me as human enough. Filtering the same movie so your kids can watch it too strikes me as, well, bizarre, to be honest.

Setting aside the merits of a particular film, the VidAngel episode has me wondering aloud on the internet—having already outsourced our standards to an America-centric ratings board, is the Mormon embrace of filtering an indication that we’re ready to get out of the principled judgment business altogether when it comes to deciding what kind of media we will consume as a God-fearing people? At the risk of appearing to ride around on a high horse, I have to ask: Is our moral calculus really as threadbare as the simple notion that if we take out the “bosoms, blood and bad words” then what was bad becomes good? Especially if we’re basically ok with the blood?

So please school me and expand my horizons with new vistas–what am I missing about the virtues of streaming Big Hollywood through a filter into our homes as opposed to simply being selective about what is streamed unfiltered through our walls?

Comments

  1. Jadis of Charn says:

    I tried to destroy your world via the Deplorable Word, but VidAngel filtered it.

  2. Usually I read without commenting, but I have to publicly agree with you here, dear author! I’ve considered using VidAngel, but I’ve never been able to take the plunge. If I can’t bring myself to watch it with all the inclusions, why is it suddenly ok once edited (I realized the irony in this as I watched a lot of rated R movies on network TV as a kid. Thanks to Christmas Eves and Saturday afternoons, I’ve seen Die Hard, Lethal Weapon(s), Eddie Murphy movies… Stephen King movies… but I digress)?

    In full disclosure, I’ve never even seen Titanic (ok, I saw the last 20 min, but that’s it and it wasn’t by choice). When it came out, all my friends said “oh, when this line is spoken, everyone just leaves the theater for a few minutes and then we go back in and miss all the bad stuff.” What? This makes no sense. I paid to see the movie… why is it “really good minus that one part”? This is how I feel about VidAngel as well.

  3. Before we talk about your post, can you please add some garment-appropriate clothing to the figures in the painting?

  4. Jadis FTW.

  5. A quick story – when I lived in Rexburg, a certain store touting flicks that were cleaned was still alive and kicking. I had a friend brag to me that he watched “Goodfellas” from there, and the movie was only about 20 minutes long. He also let us borrow “Wedding Crashers,” of which there were huge cuts in the movie that made the movie not make much sense. I imagine “Deadpool” being in that same vein – there’s so much that would have to be cut that it really would defeat the movie.

    I’m really not a high moral-standard movie viewer, though I do have high quality-standards for what I do watch. But it’s been fascinating to me to see the reaction on a certain social media site from the many ardent supporters regarding this directive, especially because it really brings out some wonderful conspiracy theories and persecution complexes. If I have to hear about big bad Hollywood not liking their movies to be scrubbed one more time, I might scream.

    I guess it doesn’t compute with me because it seems very hypocritical. The movie has the 3 B’s (boobs, blood, bad words), and so I can’t see it. But I want to! Ah! Let’s take those out! Then everything is OK! That seems so simplistic and reductive. There’s no reason to not know exactly what content is in movies in 2016 (hello IMDB guides), and you do have a fast forward / mute button on your remote. Is it “for the kids”? So why are they watching it in the first place?

    I don’t know. Maybe I just need to go repent and quit hardening my heart to the joy that edited Deadpool will bring into my life or something.

  6. It is helpful to note that the case against VidAngel isn’t about the filtering, but the fact that they don’t pay for the rights to stream to viewers. Here is the court document https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2858496-VidAngel.html

  7. The people who want “scrubbed” movies by and large are moral children. They do not want to have to master their own thoughts, words, and deeds; they want an external force to constrain them because they do not want to have to do the work of self-control.

    And hey, I totally get the impulse, because for a long way I was like that about work. I needed to create an invisible taskmaster standing over me. With a lot of personal struggle, though, I became something of a self-starter. (Not much of one, but a lot more than I used to be.)

    Forgive me for referencing Garfield, but necessity isn’t the mother of invention–sloth is. People always will look for ways of not having to do work. This very much applies to spiritual things as well as secular ones.

  8. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    VidAngel has solved a thorny problem for me. My wife and I have very different attitudes toward ratings and content for movies. Using VidAngel has assuaged her reluctance to see a number of the movies that have been on my “After She Dies…” watchlist. Now we can watch movies together!

  9. Ethical dilemma, John: To steal or to see boobs in movies? (No third option.)

  10. Brief follow up with John’s comment above, I guess you can still get streamed filtering via clearplay which overlays its edits with Google Play. I didn’t know this until I read about the judge’s decision, so it’s not about filtering per se as much as it’s about filtering for only a dollar per movie.

    Some of the most profound, impactful movies are R, maybe because many of the themes that invoke the passions often involve violence or intense, F-bomb leaden feelings. Without some mechanism to present them to orthodox Mormons and others I’m afraid they’ll stick with Hallmark entertainment Kitsch. Yes, Son of Saul edited is probably not as impactful as the non-edited version, but it’s better than nothing, which is what a not insignificant population will get from it if there’s no means for viewing an edited version. It’s not as if editing scrubs it down to ponies and flowers. The point is still made, even if it’s muted somewhat, which is better than the point not being made at all.

  11. From what I understand about ClearPlay, one of the ways they have been to continue their business model is from more compliance with the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, that someone can personalize the playback of movies, skipping or muting content from playback of video on demand or DVDs. Basically, you buy the movie through GooglePlay or the DVD/Blu Ray + special DVD player yourself, use the FilterStick + subscription service to get the filters needed, and it will fast forward / mute as needed, following the FECA more closely.

    I have heard from a few with connections to the industry that they haven’t been targeted because they aren’t a threat (like VidAngel was), but legally, it seems like they are more within the lines than VidAngel?

  12. I would love to be able to say that I choose movies based on their quality or message, rather than some arbitrary rating, but the truth is that I sometimes watch movies that I know are going to be spectacles, with little to no redeeming value, just because I sometimes enjoy the spectacle. I can perhaps assuage any faint guilt with the knowledge that people aren’t really getting hurt in violent scenes (although people often are), but it is hard to argue that people aren’t being objectified in many scenes (both sexual or violent). The lizard brain wants what the lizard brain wants.

    All that said, I’ve stopped watching football (American-version) because I feel like a Roman spectator now. And I dearly loved football. So maybe I’ll slowly grow out of spectacle as well over time.

  13. Kyle, not a hard decision. Seeing the human body doesn’t bother me. Stealing does.

    But, your dilemma is a false one. There is (as has been mentioned above) still ClearPlay, which both filters streaming movies from google play that have been paid for, and have players that you can use for you own physical copies to filter them.

    Realize that filtering isn’t the issue because ClearPlay has been following the law and running for over a decade now, and that the Studios sell their movies to TV and Cable to be filtered all the time.

    The issue is rights and who has or hasn’t paid for them.

  14. No to nudity/swear words, yes to theft! – Mormons

  15. I don’t feel particularly strongly about this, but the post and comments feel like trading one moral high-horse for another. I think if someone wants to filter out a few f-bombs so that they can enjoy a movie that they otherwise wouldn’t, good for them. It’s not something I would do, mostly because I’m lazy, but I have muted the TV before when my kids were watching and I knew a bad word was coming. I agree it would be weird to vid-angel a show like Deadpool, because so much would have to be skipped over, but my objection there is not one of artistic superiority but instead of utility (i.e., why watch a movie so clipped it no longer makes sense?).

    If you want to watch the cussing and sex, good for you. If someone doesn’t but still wants the rest of the content, good for them. If it works for them, why would I care?

  16. jimbob, I think it’s not just an aesthetic / artistic integrity objection. It’s partially your utility objection–it doesn’t make any sense–but also, it’s partially this: when you’ve taken out the boobs and the bad words, does that really mean that the rest of it is fine? Can you redeem a suggestive plot by just editing out certain words and images?

    Or to put it in the terms of the old Mormonad, if there’s a bug in your ice cream sundae, do you really pick it out on go on eating, or do you just decide to maybe get another desert? (Or, the third option, maybe the bugs are supposed to be there, like roasted or chocolate covered grasshoppers or something, and you decide that your okay with it).

  17. the post and comments feel like trading one moral high-horse for another.

    Yeah, well, at least I’m transparent about it!

  18. Bruce Spencer says:

    Everybody needs to get over themselves… watch the movies you want to watch… and don’t watch the ones you don’t want to… and use your own values and moral compass to guide you… and don’t judge others who view differently from you…

  19. The only thing that really chaps me about VidAngel is seeing the company dress up its copyright violations as morally pure. The court points out (and John Jeppson has mentioned here) that people can get scrubbed versions of movies that are licensed and legal from ClearPlay. There’s nothing to stop VidAngel from doing their business legally if they are willing to make a deal with the studios.

    VidAngel seems to have been conceived, or at least marketed, as a righteous cause (see the name). That makes it a scam, morally speaking. Most popular culture is not high art; most of it is closer to dreck. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s evil, but there’s certainly nothing angelic about helping people spend their time with watered-down dreck. It’s a business, not a moral cause.

  20. don’t judge others who view differently from you…

    I see what you did there!

  21. Most popular culture is not high art; most of it is closer to dreck. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s evil, but there’s certainly nothing angelic about helping people spend their time with watered-down dreck. It’s a business, not a moral cause.

    Preach!

  22. That’s a good point, Loursat.

    Maybe it’s not so much a problem with outsourcing as with line-drawing. We humans don’t like fuzzy ambiguous principles, and love black and white rules. “Don’t watch stuff that’s not uplifting” is really fuzzy. So when the president of the church says “Don’t watch stuff that’s not uplifting; maybe avoid stuff that’s rated R” we latch onto “don’t watch rated R stuff,” and take it to mean everything rated R is totally off limits, and everything that’s not rated R is totally fine. And the natural next step from there is to ask, when something rated R comes along that we want to see, what could we do to make this not rated R? And the line-drawing that the MPAA makes between PG-13 and R suddenly becomes our standard for what is morally acceptable entertainment.

    Note: yes, I’m aware that the no rated R rule hasn’t really part of the For the Strength of Youth standards for a long time. But it persists, largely because it’s still an easy shortcut.

  23. This is a conversation my wife and I have had quite often. She has asked me the same thing: how does taking the bad stuff out of movies make it good?

    My response is usually this: how many movies that we watch are “good”?

    I suspect that most movies we watch are more neutral than anything. We talk of movies as if there are strictly good or bad. But there’s a whole lot of middle ground, and as members of the Church, we each tend to live somewhere in that grey area.

    I think of services like VidAngel (may it rest in piece) and ClearPlay as useful services that help us take bad movies bak to neutral. Would I let my kid (or myself) watch Toy Story if it was full of bad language? No. The message would still be good, even if it did have a handful of f-bombs in it. In reality, Toy Story is a neutral movie – not really good nor bad. It’s just entertaining. Editing services help us reduce the “bad” in movies to move them to neutral. Granted, some movies would require too much editing to make it to neutral, but most aren’t in that realm.

    As for the blood vs nudity vs language thing – that honestly seems to stem from both a principle and societal place. We are told not to kill, but viewing killing doesn’t “seem to have an affect on us” and “doesn’t drive us to kill.” Nudity is unique because we are warned against more than just participating in unchaste acts, but told not to view them either. And language – once again, we are warned not to use bad language on a regular basis, thus hearing it is also bad (since hearing it enough may move us to speak it). In the end, we are not specifically warned against violence, and we seem so think that violence in movies is fake (though nudity is REAL nudity so it’s bad). Not saying it’s right, but that seems to be the argument I hear most often about it from other members of the Church.

  24. Well, not all popular art is dreck. Toy Story is really good. And not only that, but Toy Story<Toy Story 2<Toy Story 3.

    Art matters!

  25. Anne Chovies says:

    Over the years there have been many movies I dearly would have liked to see but have not because of inappropriate content. I don’t rely on their rating, I use IMDb as a guide but one rule I adhere to is when in doubt skip it; it’s impossible to “unsee” anything. I don’t think I’d use a filtering service like VidAngel even if I lived where it’s available.

  26. @ Loursat. In their defense, my understanding of their situation is that they did try to approach the studios and were rejected, which is why they went to their current business model. There may still be some disingenuousness on their part as evidenced by the fact that they’re not just switching over to the clearplay model (taking out their monopoly on that approach and driving filtering prices down), which seems bullet proof legally.

  27. Fred the Ephraimite says:

    If a person would watch a Big Hollywood movie that is rated G, PG, or PG-13, why is an R movie that they have modified to meet one of the other standards necessarily any different from a movie that originally received a lower rating? A G-rated movie (good) could be made R (bad) by making Queen Elsa drop the F-bomb three times during “Let it Go”. Why would deleting those three F-bombs not then turn bad back into good? It’s no secret that much of the content that leads to R ratings is not required for telling the story of many movies, which may indeed be virtuous in some way. Skilled directors have been dealing with difficult subjects without showing boobies or corpse-slashing since moving pictures began.

    I’ve used Vidangel quite a bit for movies that obviously have redeeming qualities but which also contain content I have no interest in. So no, I haven’t seen Deadpool.

    Vidangel also provides the benefit of really telling you what’s in a movie relative to rating standards, since you can look at the filters and their effects before renting the movie. This can show you the difference between a movie that got the R for thee casual F-bombs and one that borders on NC-17 for graphic sexual violence.

  28. ‘We are told not to kill, but viewing killing doesn’t “seem to have an affect on us” and “doesn’t drive us to kill.” Nudity is unique because we are warned against more than just participating in unchaste acts, but told not to view them either. And language – once again, we are warned not to use bad language on a regular basis, thus hearing it is also bad (since hearing it enough may move us to speak it). In the end, we are not specifically warned against violence, and we seem so think that violence in movies is fake (though nudity is REAL nudity so it’s bad).’

    The notion that watching violence is fine because it doesn’t drive you to kill people, while seeing something sexy is off limits because it might tempt us to be unchaste makes no sense to me. Seeing something suggestive doesn’t drive me to commit adultery, either. It might provide a way for temptations short of actual adultery, but the same is true of watching violence, it can open you to temptations short of actual murder, not the least of which is simply being callous to the well-being of others. The idea that we are more affected by vulgar language or something sexually suggestive than by graphic depictions of violence is just crazy, and more than anything else, it reveals a societal addiction to violence and anger that is so prevalent that we can’t even see it.

  29. Here’s the problem I have with basing a decision on whether a movie is morally acceptable or not on the presence of swear words or nudity or drug use, or whatever: that approach doesn’t actually engage in any moral reasoning about how those things are being treated or portrayed in the movie. Honestly, if that’s the approach, then we shouldn’t read the Book of Mormon or the Bible, since they both contain graphic depictions of violence and sex.

    Real moral reasoning would require us to engage with what the movie (or text) is actually saying about those things. Sometimes they are used to make a very important point. Sometimes they are portrayed as great moral wrongs. Sometimes they are glorified. Sometimes they’re just gratuitous and don’t serve any purpose. If something morally objectionable is portrayed as morally objectionable, that’s a very different thing from it being glorified. And if it is just gratuitous, it’s a judgment call about whether the movie (or text) has other redeeming qualities that outweigh it.

  30. “The people who want “scrubbed” movies by and large are moral children. They do not want to have to master their own thoughts, words, and deeds”

    Wow. There’s some condemnation for you!

    There are a lot of movies out there that have a few “bad parts” in an otherwise acceptable movie. Sure, you can just watch the movie and ignore the bad parts, but doing that does make the bad parts seem more acceptable over time, and I would think good parents would be leery of that.

    Seems like VidAngel would have broad appeal! The liberals could edit out the blood and keep the boobs, the conservatives could edit out the boobs and keep the blood, and they could both learn new words to describe each other with (you know with more flavor than “licentious” and “barbaric”, respectively)

  31. Jadis of Charn says:

    The only thing that really chaps me about VidAngel is seeing the company dress up its copyright violations as morally pure.

    Interestingly, VidAngel structured their approach to operate in the space allowed by recent Supreme Court copyright decisions, including the Aereo case.

    A brief description is here:
    https://www.vidangel.com/news/2016/11/30/is-vidangel-legal-3/

    Oversimplified version: VidAngel buys a lot of physical discs of movies, and that’s how the studios are paid. You can then purchase a disc from them, and then stream the content from your disc to your device. If you want, you can sell back the disc, and someone else then buys it and can stream the content from it, and so on.

    It’s an interesting and not yet fully clarified area of the law; VidAngel’s position is certainly colorable. The studios believe this is infringement; VidAngel believes otherwise. I think they will ultimately lose at the Supreme Court, but it certainly isn’t flat-out theft.

  32. Seems like VidAngel would have broad appeal!

    It sure does. What I find fascinating, maybe even bewildering, however, is that it seems to be most popular among conservative iron-rodders rather than liberal “allow me the space to justify my sins, please” types.

  33. Why would deleting those three F-bombs not then turn bad back into good?

    Good point. I suppose that by getting hung up on obvious-ish outliers like Deadpool it’s easy to miss lots of cases where gentle massaging of a film can remove stumbling blocks from an uplifting work.

  34. “it certainly isn’t flat-out theft.”

    Nope, just a business practice that is questionably legal at best and more likely illegal. Funny, you would think that VidAngel would want to build a hedge about the law and avoid even the very appearance of illegal behavior.

    I only skimmed the decision, but my understanding was that VidAngel doesn’t actually stream you the edited version from the disk you bought, but from their edited digital copy that you didn’t buy, and that’s the problem.

  35. Ha, I also grew up without a tv, as have my kids, though with computers they did/do get to see dvds…
    We usually use commonsense media reviews when deciding what we’d like to spend out time watching. We don’t actually watch very much even then. Mostly because not enough time. Where do people find the time?
    Also, I agree with JKC about strange attitudes to violence as compared to sex and language.

  36. So, I have never used VidAngel and now probably never will.

    Overall I agree that no amount of editing will make a morally wrong movie watchable. I like the examples of Deadpool and Wedding Crashers. I regularly watch R movies that have been edited for television and enjoy them. Some of these movies are simple entertainment and others actually have enough of a message or story in them to be of some value once the offensive content is removed. However, at least one movie comes to mind that removing the language from it would change the movie, the Kings Speech. The scene that makes that movie R is really a necessary part of the story line. Or so I feel.

    As for violence being OK and nudity\language not, I usually avoid movies with nudity and language but, do not avoid the violent ones as much. I do not tend to watch movies with what I feel is overly gratuitous violence but, that definition changes per individual. I avoid nudity because that type of temptation is the one that that I struggle with the most. I don’t struggle with thoughts of violence and have found no decrease in my ability to empathize with my fellow man. I think again that this is a use your brain and watch what you can and avoid what doesn’t work for you.

    Also, not sure that what vidangel is doing is technically stealing, studios are getting paid and from what I can tell more than they would from me because if there is something in the movie I don’t like I will feel momentarily sad that I cant watch and never spend money on it anyway.

  37. I don’t see a problem with editing out undesired content(as long as it is legal). Hollywood often uses such content as a check mark for making “grown-up” movies. However, they aren’t necessary to plot or story. More often than not story and themes determine whether a movie is moral, not individual instances of content. If I remove those check marks, I can still enjoy the same themes and messaging without the content I personally disagree with.

    Also, I’ve always thought that violence is less problematic than nudity or language. Violence in movies is hardly ever uniformly bad or good. For example, Schindler’s List gains its moral meaning from accurately showing some of the atrocities of the Nazi regime. The movie would have less power if it didn’t depict those violent acts. Now, a similar logic could apply to language and nudity, except violence in movies is only a depiction. No real acts of violence occur, so the depiction is not inherently immoral. A depiction of nudity on the other hand is still nudity and the f-word is still the f-word. The distance that movies give to violence don’t apply in these cases. There is a debate to be had on whether depictions of violence are moral or not, but they exist in a different category than depicting sex or using explicit language.

  38. Fred the Ephraimite says:

    RE the legality of Vidangel: Vidangel would love to pay the studios for streaming rights. The needle-threading they’ve been doing is only because the studios have insisted on violating the spirit of existing law that allows for post-release content editing. It seems likely that higher courts will slap the studios for their complete refusal to enrich themselves by selling streaming rights to Vidangel just like they do to Apple. They aren’t going to be able to pretend that congress only meant to allow content editing of physical media.

  39. What I don’t get is why aren’t studios offering their own service? There’s obviously some money in it.

    And I guess I don’t understand the moral “this is stealing” argument, as long as the media/rights were paid for. And I understand there’s a big difference between the “legal” and the “moral” arguments. I get the legal ones. If I went into a bookstore and bought a book that had several pages torn out or large sections blacked out, would I be stealing?

  40. This is not a win by “Big Hollywood.” This is win by screenwriters, directors and editors who have the right to maintain control of their own creations. Prior to the 25th anniversary republication of Ray Bradbury’s great novel about censorship, Fahrenheit 451, he returned to the current publication and discovered that through the years his own publisher had edited (Censored), without his permission, over 75 passages. He was dumbfounded that this could happen in a book about “censorship,” and so he wrote an essay on censorship that is included in that edition of the book. In it he makes the strong and legal case that the creator of the art owns the rights to that art and no one has the right to make any kind of cuts or changes to it without specific permission — permission which he then denied everyone carte blanche. The book was reprinted as it was originally published. Here is one vital short section from this seminal essay on “creator’s rights:”
    >>”For it is a mad world and it will get madder if we allow the minorities, be they dwarf or giant, orangutan or dolphin, nuclear-head or water-conversationalist, pro-computerologist or Neo-Luddite, simpleton or sage, to interfere with aesthetics. The real world is the playing ground for each and every group, to make or unmake laws. But the tip of the nose of my book or stories or poems is where their rights and my territorial imperatives begin, run and rule. If Mormons do not like my plays, let them write their own. If the Irish hate my Dublin stories, let them rent typewriters. If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmild teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture. If the Chicano intellectuals wish to re-cut my “Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” so it shapes “Zoot,” may the belt unravel and the pants fall.

    For, let’s face it, digression is the soul of wit. Take the philosophic asides away from Dante, Milton or Hamlet’s father’s ghost and what stays is dry bones. Laurence Sterne said it once: Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine, the life, the soul of reading! Take them out and one cold eternal winter would reign in every page. Restore them to the writer – he steps forth like a bridegroom, bids them all-hail, brings in variety and forbids the appetite to fail.

    In sum, do not insult me with the beheadings, finger-choppings or the lung-deflations you plan for my works. I need my head to shake or nod, my hand to wave or make into a fist, my lungs to shout or whisper with. I will not go gently onto a shelf, degutted, to become a non-book.”<<

    Neil Simon, responding to a Utah high school production of his play, "Rumors," said essentially the same thing. In essence: You changed my art without permission. You violated the copyright laws and your contract. I receive so many requests for changes in my plays that it would take ALL of my time to consider them. And so, NO! You CANNOT change my script for your production. If you will not do the play the way it was written, then do some other poor sucker's play and be done with."

    No one has the right to "sanitize" other people's creations. This does not even being to examine the issue that taking out surface "offenses" has NOTHING to do with the morality of the work. Morality comes from context, from the decisions characters make and the consequences of those decisions. Morally, it does not matter one whit how little clothing they are wearing, what words they are uttering, or how much blood is on the floor when they're done. Morality comes from CHOICE. And so even on that level, the argument for sanitation falls totally into oblivion.

    Ask BYU how they felt when the owner of the rights showed up in the Dept. of Theatre Office and cancelled the opening of "Noises Off" by Michael Frayn because they had cut the script without permission. That action ushered in a new era of morality within the BYU Theatre Department, as you can well imagine: Morality based on illegal, arrogant decisions that were wrong.

  41. Fred the Ephraimite says:

    Dr. GSA no publisher, producer, or broadcaster is censoring anything. USERS are doing the censoring using *optional* tools. Does Ray Bradbury have the right to prevent me from ripping a page out of Fahrenheit 451 before I read it? Can he stop someone from selling plastic sheet swith marks that black out certain words when laid over the pages of the book? Obviously not. If it’s legal for me to fast-forward or mute in order to avoid seeing or hearing anything I please then what Vidangel is trying to do should also be legal. All we’re seeing here is the studios (or the writers or whoever) using the fact that the law has yet to enter the 21st century in order to maintain control over our culture. They are the Big Brother in this story manipulating people’s thoughts, not Vidangel.

  42. There seems to be a lot of conflating of “legal” and “moral” going on. IMO the morality of something doesn’t depend on its legality. There are lot plenty of legal things that are immoral and plenty of moral things that are illegal. I don’t give a hill of beans whether or not something is illegal. As long as it isn’t immoral then I’m fine with it. I’ve never used VidAngel, but I find nothing immoral in their actions (and I don’t know about their intentions).

  43. Not much to add politically or philosophically…

    How about some science, or at least social science? I am reaching way back in memory and I hope someone can either confirm or correct me. After WWII when television was first distributed to the gullible public, an interesting social experiment was performed entirely by accident. Every few years the ability to transmit TV marched a few miles further north to more isolated Canadian villages and towns. After about a 15 to 20 year lag the social problems followed in the same procession.

    The problems could be grossly grouped into two categories; violence and sex. I seem to recall that viewing violence on TV was pretty strongly associated with an increase in violent actions. But seeing naughty episodes was not so strongly connected to changes in sexual activity. That was tied to many other factors such as availability of contraception, parental influence, religious beliefs, etc.

    So watching violence seemed to be more damaging than watching lasciviousness. Yet we see the opposite in the Book of Mormon which is rather violent but clean as Utah spring water when it comes to descriptions of unchastity. And I see the same pattern in my hard-core LDS relatives. They don’t blink an eye at the displays on the screen of all but the most outrageous graphic violence. But a skirt a few inches above the knee or a lingering kiss with wandering hands and the entertainment comes to an abrupt end.

    Are specific questionable categories of behaviors displayed in entertainment more harmful than others as measured by associated observable undesirable behaviors?

  44. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Musicians the world over create “arrangements” of the works of others and perform them for profit and sell them (both the arrangement and the recorded performance) to the public. These altered arrangements are for countless reasons: because they prefer different instrumentation, because they are working with different voice parts, because the basses can’t sing low enough, or because they want to repurpose the piece for a different occasion. This is no less art than a film. However, the difference is that musical artists aren’t just chopping out segments of the original, but are reconstructing it and making it their own (or, at least using their own voice, etc.). Maybe VidAngel just needs to re-produce their own version of Deadpool.

  45. never forget says:

    The question in the first place that must be answered is why the hell would you watch Deadpool without the swearing, nudity, and blood?

  46. I like VidAngel for many of the reasons that have been elaborated. I don’t usually mind watching movies with objectionable content, but I have relatives that do. It is nice to be able to filter out a few curse words from a PG-13 movie, for instance, and avoid the drama of having certain relatives squirm and sigh or boycott or anything like that. It would be great for everyone to be as grown up and enlightened as me (/s), but filtering is a good compromise. It is also nice with young kids. And I have to admit that even I, myself, enjoy being able to filter out some of the more objectionable bits of an otherwise good movie. When I would normally just look away, I instead have VidAngel skip or mute the scene.

    I am mainly just commenting, though, to say that VidAngel still seems to be up and running for the moment. They even have a promotion going. Maybe it gets shut down in the next day or two, but so far things seem to be operating as normal. Does this mean it stays up until the ruling comes down from the next court?

  47. I love Vidangel. Studios are making a mistake in trying to destroy it and confine filtering to drastically inferior ultra-limited-selection subscription services like Clearplay. They should just strike a deal to charge Vidangel what they charge Amazon and iTunes for streaming rights.

    Also: it’s a mistake to over-moralize filtering. Some individuals and families just enjoy movies more when they can skip a few icky parts. Simple as that. I’d compare using Vidangel to picking mushrooms off a pizza… except that people who do the latter really are “moral children” (as an unfortunate comment above put it) while Vidangel users are kind, savvy, and reasonable. :)

  48. mike, perhaps violence in entertainment is harmful to society (by increasing violent acts against others) whereas nudity is potentially harmful to the individual viewer. Especially viewers who, like a great comment above stated “do not want to have to master their own thoughts, words, and deeds; they want an external force to constrain them because they do not want to have to do the work of self-control.”

    I don’t mind “adult content” so much in historic depictions or films that discuss social issues that I feel I should understand. I watched Schindler’s List and Precious for those reasons. But why is a hero ending the lives of a handful of people followed by a comical line ok when even slight sexual content makes many Mormons extremely uncomfortable? I keep coming back to patriarchy. Violence, typically by portrayed by males, supports the idea of men as protectors, aggressors, and dominant, something that folks buying into patriarchy may find acceptable. But nudity in entertainment, typically of women, is unacceptable in patriarchal organizations (for many reasons which have been discussed ad nauseum).

  49. T, how funny that we felt so different about that comment!

  50. But why is a hero ending the lives of a handful of people followed by a comical line ok when even slight sexual content makes many Mormons extremely uncomfortable? I keep coming back to patriarchy. Violence, typically by portrayed by males, supports the idea of men as protectors, aggressors, and dominant, something that folks buying into patriarchy may find acceptable. But nudity in entertainment, typically of women, is unacceptable in patriarchal organizations (for many reasons which have been discussed ad nauseum).

    I should add that many violent movies that Mormons tend to see as acceptable have intensely eroticized depictions of the male body–e.g. 300, which is pornographic both in its violence and in its presentation of the Spartans, who actually wore heavy armor (and also practiced man-boy “tutelage” that very much included pederasty, although not to the same extent as in Sparta or especially Thebes).

  51. Which also makes me wonder how many Mormons watched sanitized versions of Starship Troopers, which presumably excluded the nude shower scenes but included the sadomasochistic spectacle of Casper Van Dien being flogged and contorting his face in orgasmic fashion.

  52. APM – probably the same principle behind the Ensign cover photoshopping sleeves onto female angels’ porn shoulders but a bare chested Nephi is nbd.

  53. On the subject of the whole hypocrisy with violence vs. nudity, etc. For myself, the temptation of swearing and breaking the law of chastity is real. The temptation to perform acts of animated violence is not.
    Personally, I don’t watch sanitized versions of movies. I forget the lessons behind why I’ve made that decision, but I have, and my life is fine. I hardly even watch PG-13’s. The only ones that I do, tend to be if they’re PG-13 because of animated violence. No matter how many times I watch Spider-man, I’m just not going to be slinging web around, any time soon. On the other hand, I do not want the swearing, and sleeping around to feel normal to me. Something which would begin to occur by watching movies that had that in them. That could actually affect my spiritual standing.
    I had a roommate once, who played a lot of whatever Grand Theft Auto that had been recently released (I think it was 2). He was driving me to the Macey’s in Provo once and said “You know, in Sunday School I’d argue against the teacher that watching certain shows, or listening to certain music would be a bad influence on me in any way. But I have to be honest with myself, since I’ve been playing GTA I’ve become a much more aggressive driver.” It was great that he was being honest with himself.
    Probably the big difference is that we tend not to watch the same less-than-wholesome over and over again, the way we put hours into a video game for multiple days/weeks in a row.

  54. Is the difference between our reactions to violence and nudity in film based in the idea that we’re pretty sure the violence is fake (nobody’s really getting hurt, we hope; certainly nobody’s being killed for real) while naked really is naked?

  55. “Probably the big difference is that we tend not to watch the same less-than-wholesome over and over again, the way we put hours into a video game for multiple days/weeks in a row.”

    Well for me the biggest difference between video games and movies is that in the former you are a participant – carrying out those actions virtually – whereas in the latter you are a passive observer. Active participation in (virtual) violence has to be doing something different to the brain than being numbed by exposure to watching violence I’d have thought.

  56. Well, sure, the violence is fake, but unless you’re watching a porno, so are the acts of unchastity. There’s no commandment “thou shalt not be naked”; that’s part of the hedge we’ve built around the commandment to not commit adultery or fornication. And it’s probably wise to do so. But why have we not built such a hedge around the commandments related to murder and violence? When Jesus says that you commit adultery if you even look on a woman with lust, we’re totally on board, but when he says that if you’re even angry with somebody you’re in danger of condemnation, it’s nbd to watch stuff glorifying wrath and violence.

    Note that the problem is not looking at a naked body. The problem is looking with lust. I’ll be the first to admit that lust is more likely to be excited when you look at naked people, but if you are actually categorically incapable of seeing a woman’s body without lust, it sounds like you see women probably add sexual objects, which probably says more about your attitudes about women than it does about the morality of nudity in movies.

  57. Any other medical providers here? I’ve seen so many naked bodies, my mind just doesn’t go all lusty automatically anymore, no matter how perfectly built the person is. Maybe this is why teens in Europe can go to a topless beach and not be so easily affected.

    I’m not saying being more open about nudity and sexuality in church curriculum is necessarily the answer (although it will be in my family), but I do think that excessive sheltering on this issue can lead to greater objectification of women, and therefore, lust and sin.

  58. Maybee, I think you’re absolutely right. Being excessively hung up about sex is just as unhealthy and just as likely to lead to sin as being excessively oversexed.

  59. My love for Vidangel is mostly hedonistic and libertarian.

    It is simply more pleasant to watch movies with some of the gross profanity, etc. turned off.

    Yes, you CAN just get used to the profanity, etc. (the way you get used to a foul smell, or to bits of sand in your food, or to polluted air) but it’s a breath of fresh air when you don’t have to.

    Of course tastes differ. If my foul smell is your delightful aroma, more power to you. But it is important to realize that studios refuse to allow Vidangel to license streaming the usual way (like iTunes and amazon) in part BECAUSE that would provide a preferable experience for so many people, which would threaten services that (due to moral hangups or weird secret agreements with Hollywood unions) cannot offer filtering themselves.

    In this, studios attacking Vidangel are like taxi companies attacking Uber. Technology has produced a superior product, but traditional players hope to hold back the tide as long as possible.

  60. Last Lemming says:

    Watching violence in movies certainly has not moved me to become a more violent person. But I wonder whether I would be able to summon more outrage over what is happening in Aleppo if I hadn’t watched so many slaughters on the movie screen.

  61. In this, studios attacking Vidangel are like taxi companies attacking Uber.

    I dunno. Seems like the more apt comparison would be between Hollywood studios and the just-announced VidAngel Studios–both (will eventually) produce content, just like taxis and Uber both provide rides. Filtering someone else’s work is fundamentally different than producing your own, and I’m sure Hollywood does not feel threatened in the slightest by VidAngel’s vow to produce family-friendly content on its own.

  62. Deborah Christensen says:

    @ Maybee- that’s because real people don’t look like tv people! Except for teenagers. Once your in your twenties everything heads south quickly. (I have 15 years as a CNA, RN, ARNP)

  63. Christian Luke Maynes says:

    Movies, like people, aren’t inherently bad or good. They’re a totality of their actions which can be bad or good or neutral. Filtering out the bad, while keeping the good, is exactly what God asks us to do with our lives. Then why not with our movies. Sure you might not be able to filter deadpool into a movie about a guy with morals, but you can take a movie with a solid foundation, like Schindlers List, or Bridge of Spies, or … and clean off unnecessary filth so you enjoy the inspirational story without it.

    You’re right in saying that cutting a burned part off a hot dog doesn’t make it into a steak. But there a good number of movies out there that are underlyingly steaks, they just have a little fat to trim.

  64. Charred hotdogs are the best.

  65. Copyright laws have been fraught since the written music combined with someone wanting to be paid for it. It gains a resurgence any time we get a new medium, or someone realizes they were plagiarized (see the recent-ish lawsuit against Men at Work for using the Kukaberra tune in Down Under). Music arrangers who re-work someone else’s music without permission and make a profit from it are setting up their own Damocles sword.

    Personally, I agree with the Bradbury quote above (as much as I loathe his writing). Not only to creators need to get paid for the use of their work, the work itself needs to be left as it was created or simply not used. It’s not like there’s a surfeit of ways to spend your time. Thinking you’re “missing out” is a part of human nature that needs continual work to overcome.

  66. “The question in the first place that must be answered is why the hell would you watch Deadpool without the swearing, nudity, and blood?”

    Word.

  67. Jadis of Charn says:

    Not only to creators need to get paid for the use of their work, the work itself needs to be left as it was created or simply not used.

    I think the same way. My sister thought otherwise: that creations, after some limited time to benefit solely the creator, should become part of the intellectual capital of the giant/djinn race, to be used, repurposed, recombined, remixed, and reimagined into ever more diverse and glorious forms.

    Of course, that’s why I had to destroy her and everything else.

  68. Christian Luke Maynes: I wouldn’t say the scene in Schindler’s List that most frequently gets cited as “unnecessary filth”–the postcoital scene where Ralph Fiennes’ camp commandant leaves his naked lover (wife? I can’t quite remember, it’s been more than 20 years) in bed and shoots a passing Jew as casually as most of us would squash an ant–is truly “unnecessary.” Sex, whether within or outside the bounds of marriage, is a normal part of everyday life for most adults; committing murder is not. There’s nothing remotely titillating about the nudity in that scene for anyone who’s actually seen a naked woman before. Instead, the scene demonstrates why Hannah Arendt was not wrong to use the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe the Third Reich.

    I understood this even as a 12-year-old. Why can’t allegedly educated LDS adults do the same?

  69. Bleeping out bad words in a movie reminds me of those Arrested Development scenes where the bleeping goes on for a really long time. The reality for me is that my mind automatically fills in the blank. So whether it’s said or censored, it’s the same for me. I personally would therefore find no benefit from watching a movie where a word in censored; in fact, it just highlights the missing word more for me, which I find distracting.

    I don’t live in UT or ID, so perhaps my perspective is different. But I cannot simply avoid swear words in order to stay “pure.” I have a very white collar job, but my clients and colleagues use swear words all the time. I’ve had to learn to listen to them swear and practice/cultivate not mimicking them. I think we are all capable of the same if we have to. Avoiding swear words in the media is not the only way to avoid allowing them into your own vocabulary.

    Sometimes the harsh reality of violence, sex, and language make sense as art tries to mimic life. Other times, it feels forced. I think most of us can tell the difference. But where is the fun in life if we cannot constantly misdjudge other people’s decisions? =)

  70. I question the notion that violence isn’t abnormal part of life. Maybe for white male suburbia, but look beyond that in space and time and the picture ain’t so pretty.

  71. … a normal…

  72. Owen:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

    The US is in the middle of the pack worldwide, but in rich countries that aren’t the US, homicide is exceptionally rare. When you consider how uncommon homicide is in countries like the UK and France that have large, socioeconomically isolated ethnic minority populations with the same “culture of honor” problems to which America’s high black-on-black and brown-on-brown homicide rates are often attributed, the elephant in the room of our (hand)gun policies becomes that much more obvious.

    Going outside the rich world: in much of post-Communist Europe, it’s much more common than in the US; alarmingly common in much of sub-Saharan Africa; and terrifyingly prevalent in most of Latin America. Do consider, though, that a large portion of the world’s population lives in three countries that are significantly safer for homicide than the US (China, India, and Indonesia), and that most of the rest of East and Southeast Asia have significantly lower homicide rates than the US despite being, in most cases, far poorer.

    WIth all of this in mind, the amount of homicide that’s depicted in US films, especially the kind that are designed to do well overseas, is off the charts, and totally out of line with the experiences of most of those films’ viewers.

    I do agree that forms of violence short of homicide are a much more common part of life outside of relatively affluent places than in them–but even then I’d be willing to wager that they’re disproportionately concentrated among relatively small sectors of the population, the way they are in rich countries.

  73. Chadwick: I have never heard a stupider piece of verbal communication than when I heard a former housemate of mine (a student at BYU-Idaho interning in LA) using “fetch” and “fetchin'” on his side of a phone conversation with approximately the same frequency as the real F word appears in the scenes in The Big Lebowski that feature both Walter and the Dude.

  74. Jadis of Charn says:

    Would one please let my prior comment out of the moderation queue? Many thanks.

  75. Fred the Ephraimite says:

    APM, I’m well aware of current homicide statistics. Perhaps you missed the “and time” part of my post, and you’re also getting hung up on murder when I was talking about violence. Axe to grind much?

    Humans are brutal creatures, and if they are less so now, it’s an odd historical aberration that no one should lull themselves into believing will continue without a lot of work and a lot of luck. It also dovetails with the surge of violence in media people lament so frequently (although perhaps our view of the violence of media in the past is a bit biased toward the recent past in western culture).

    You’re right that the amount of violence in general and homicide in particular doesn’t reflect real life anywhere or anywhen. But movies aren’t about reflecting real life, or at least not primarily. The violent parts of life are some of the most interesting parts and always have been whether the media for telling the stories was oral, books, or video. The most dramatic events naturally tend to involve humans killing each other since that is the most extreme act a human can commit. I’m sure there were people squatting around campfires in the paleolithic who enjoyed a low-key Woody Allen-style yarn, but the story about Zog clubbing Gif was the one that got people really hooting and hollering.

  76. Fred the Ephraimite says:

    Oops, outed myself! LOL. I get so mixed up constantly creating new pseudonyms for different threads on different devices…

  77. Isn’t that kind of the point, that sex and violence are both very much a part of mortal life? Both are extremely common. Both are morally fraught, the most extreme form of violence is murder, which is the worst sin (other than denying the holy ghost, of course) we can commit, and the most extreme form of sex is either marital sex, which is morally good, or extramarital sex, which is morally bad, but at worst, still second to murder. But for some reason we’re super uptight about sex and kind of blasé about violence.

    And we’re also uptight about swearing, which isn’t even really sinful except to the extent that it’s taking God’s name in vain, or it offends someone and acts as a stumbling block.

    I’m not arguing that we should necessarily be as lax about sex as we are about violence, I’m just interested in why we don’t rationalize and justify on-screen sex the way we do on-screen violence. Because all the reasons and explanations I’ve heard sound more like rationalization than anything.

    I’m probably making myself obnoxious by repeating that point, so I’ll stop. My point is not just to repeat myself, though; it’s that all the various comments are interesting, but none have made a persuasive principled distinction that justifies the huge discrepancy between the way we treat on screen sex (and language) and the way we treat on-screen violence.

  78. Does the discrepancy need to be justified? Americans have roots in Puritanism and a lack of local wars for more than a century and a half, so we treat any kind of sex as out of bounds and violence as something completely unreal, even if it’s pictures of children being bombed in Syria.

    It’s not justifiable, or surprising.

  79. It’s always interesting in discussions like this to observe all the judging that goes on. For those who like or have no problem with cursing, nudity and violence in their movies, that’s your choice. For those who prefer not to have them, they ought to have the option of watching desired movies with out them (which they do with mute and fast-forward, so why is it wrong (not talking legality) to use a service that does that much smoother for the consumer?).

    To grossly paraphrase Rodney King, can’t we all just quit judging each other?

  80. To grossly paraphrase Rodney King, can’t we all just quit judging each other?

    And risk becoming moral relativists? Never! Seriously, though, I agree in principle that it would be nice if we treated each other as moral agents, but I feel obliged to point out that BCC and the commenters here didn’t start the fire. A generation raised on Mormonads with cockroaches in ice cream sundaes grew up judging their peers for consuming tainted entertainment. And now they are watching Deadpool through filters.

  81. “I feel obliged to point out that BCC and the commenters here didn’t start the fire”

    Nope – it was always burning since the world’s been turning
    No we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it
    .
    .
    No need to blame the Church. it’s not like this is a new thing.

  82. I’m late to this post but I find some of the sentiments expressed in the comments puzzling. Why on earth should I care what my neighbor cuts out of his/her movies (or doesn’t cut out)? I learned years ago that I was sensitive to certain content in movies, even if the worst “bits” were removed. I only ever watched one Clean Flicks VHS – it was of Enemy at the Gates and it was supposedly edited down to PG. But the themes of a movie are something you can’t edit away, and I was still disturbed by what I didn’t see, if that makes sense. I use VidAngel all the time to watch movies and cut out the stuff that bothers me, but I am well aware of the limitations of filters on thematic elements. I think there’s absolutely a time and a place for filters and I’m happy to have the option to use them for myself and for my kids (like cutting out the million “oh my god!”s in The Parent Trap or whatever). I truly think this comes down to the fact that some people are more affected by what they see on the screen than others, and if someone is more sensitive than me (or less sensitive, like my husband), then who am I to judge them for what they watch?

  83. A guy on a podcast I listen to, not of our faith, used VidAngel to show his 10-year-old the old Ghostbusters (an excellent Christmas movie!) without that completely unnecessary sex scene, which sounds like a perfect use-case.

    I think an ounce of critical thinking is better than a pound of filtering, but that’s mostly because I’m a snob. I’m glad all these comments helped bring me to repentance – shine on you crazy, filtering diamonds.

  84. who am I to judge them for what they watch?

    Well, of course you have no standing, but when has that ever stopped anyone? My point isn’t that we should continue to point fingers with abandon, but neither let us pretend that it began with someone like me who is surprised that members of the Church resort to filtering filth–polishing a turd, to put it bluntly–not because they have to but because they want to! Ok, maybe most of us are not filtering Deadpool, and far be it from me to insist that everyone consume everything that comes their way. But the sensitivity justification simply doesn’t fly–in my decades of church membership it’s never been the case that it’s all good, just some are sensitive than others, so let them filter in peace. Rather, it has been lines in the sand (drawn essentially by an America-centric ratings board), across which members in good standing will not step!