This is why I love the conversation about our films and entertainment. As Sony launches “Clean Version” releases of a few films, the passionate social argument ignites. Zealots on both sides of the Sensitivity Chasm claim to be either offended, exalted or absolutely right. But truthfully, I find it merely interesting. In our world of totally on-demand entertainment, we get to choose. More choices sometimes means more confusion and consumer frustration. In my browsing of the TV guide on Xfinity at any hour of the day, it’s nearly impossible to stumble across anything of quality or interest on linear channels. So how do we choose? We rely on recommendations from specialized networks, friends, social media hype. And mostly it works pretty well. By all calculations, the world’s movie lovers are thrilled to have seemingly absolute control over their viewing choices.
I’m fascinated by the clean v. censorship discussion. Some folks are quite livid over Sony’s action, claiming that censoring out gratuitous profanity in a 90 minute [sometimes disposable] diversion like “Step Brothers” is akin to modifying a historical and timeless work of art. I think not. But clearly we all have individual sensitivities and it’s amazing to see the lack of tolerance for someone’s different sensitivities – even in the midst of unquestionable and limitless choice. We vote with our clicks and our dollars every minute of every day. So if Sony is adding choices, is that censorship? And seriously, Sony is the same crowd that’s bringing us “Rough Night” and “Flatliners.”
Sensitivity to profanity, violence, sexual imagery, etc., may or may not have anything to do with a viewer’s age. As a parent, I’m generally sensitive for my younger kids, because it’s my role to guide their integrity into adulthood. It would be a whole lot easier for me to indulge in every “whatever” that barges into our living room, realizing that I have my own discernment in tact (do I?). But I take the influence of film seriously, and we are deliberate about these choices and raising discussion about interesting and edgy scenes – whether its the evening News or a movie. But regardless of the age of the children in the room, we prefer to watch high quality films without crude scenes and language. A penchant for the “f” word and watching other people in passionate tangles does not directly correlate with a higher intellect or maturity. Clinically speaking.
Whether or not the edited version actually results in a decent creative product is still up for debate. Perhaps we just choose a whole movie that’s more to our liking?
Thanks Sony, for sparking the conversation. And while the service is helpful, our families are still the Holy Grail in the battle for eyeballs and influence. Let’s make sure we are paying attention.