Dilbert Sanitized for Your Protection

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 09/09/2005 @ 10:18 am

BlogCritics blogger Anna Creech reports that her local paper found a recent Dilbert comic a bit too graphic.

The Daily Record is the local paper for Kittitas County in Washington. It is published late, and as a result, I usually read the previous day paper over lunch. Yesterday I noticed that the comic strip Dilbert looked different from what I remembered from reading it online yesterday. Apparently, the original was too graphic for Daily Record readers.

Spot the difference? (Click to view larger images.)


Bush Signs Bowdlerization Bill

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/28/2005 @ 9:27 am

President Bush has signed into law a bill that ensures legal protection for DVD content-filtering technology. Hollywood is crying “copyright violation!” It is widely believed that the new law will end up in the courts.

From the CBC.


“Bleep!” Is Coming

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/26/2005 @ 9:54 am

“Bleep” airs tonight on AMC. The roundup of reviews….

Boston Globe:

‘’It doesn’t make me happy that some anonymous person sitting in a room somewhere can recut ‘’Traffic” and essentially sell that version of it, and it has my name on it, and the implication is that I’ve condoned it,” says director Steven Soderbergh, a leader in the fight against sanitizing.

NY Daily News:

Several of the censors appear, brimming with smarmy self-righteousness, tonight at 10 when the AMC cable channel airs a documentary called “Bleep! Censoring Hollywood.” It’s disturbing to watch the censors as they cheerfully discuss distorting the latest Soderbergh or Spielberg films.

NY Daily News (again, this time by Fresh Air reviewer David Bianculli):

“Bleep,” airing tonight at 10 on AMC, lays out the controversy, but neither takes a side nor tells a compelling story. The former can be a choice and a laudable attempt at objectivity; the latter, with material this incendiary, is inexcusable.


As a primer on a couple of arcane legal spats with some serious real-world consequences, “Bleep! Censoring Hollywood” provides viewers with plenty to debate. It covers the major points of censorship, but not probingly or rigorously. Still, the AMC-ABC News doc is quality primetime infotainment.


Much to the credit of the producers of “Bleep,” they don’t hang the DVD cleansers out to dry by emphasizing crude, glaring edits. One before-and-after example they include - a scene from “The Bourne Supremacy” - may remind older movie fans (and young viewers who’ve seen a few older movies) of how Hollywood once used discrete cutaways to “suggest” something sexy or horrible without actually showing it. The documentary suggests that the DVD purifiers aren’t necessarily the ham-fisted butchers that directors such as Hackford and Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic") say they are.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

“Bleep” provides a balanced look of issues with interviews of the company owners of the sanitizing technology, Hollywood directors and producers, copyright attorneys, members of Congress, and Jack Valenti, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

“Bleep” does an excellent job providing information, but it lacks the emotion needed to make the issue important to average TV viewers.


McMasters on DVD Scrubbing

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/25/2005 @ 8:03 am

The First Amendment Center’s Paul McMasters has some thoughts on the practice of “sanitizing” DVD releases (including, it turns out, “Shrek").

In the end, no amount of technology can take the place of the exquisitely fine filter that is the human mind. We have the ability to delete, deconstruct and even destroy any communication that comes our way, or to turn it to our own elevation. True, from time to time, we will encounter language or ideas that offend, but we should be wary of contracting out our right and duty to choose for ourselves which communications we receive, from Hollywood or anyone else, and how we evaluate what we do receive.

Published in the Naples Daily News.


Bleeping Bleepers Exposed

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/24/2005 @ 7:29 pm

AMC will air “Bleep: Censoring Hollywood” this Tuesday. The documentary focuses on the “sanitization” of Hollywood releases – for your protection, of course.

Check your local listings.


Congress OKs Family Movie Act

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/20/2005 @ 9:21 am

The House and Senate have both passed a bill that would ensure the legality of technologies that allow parents to mute or skip objectionable content on DVDs or compact discs. Legislators killed a provision in the bill that would have provided legal protections to companies that re-edit feature films to remove such content.

The bill now heads to the Prez.

From the First Amendment Center.

Heins on Hollywood

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/20/2005 @ 8:56 am

If SpeakSpeak.org has a patron saint, it’s Marjorie Heins.

Heins has published a piece at the Brennan Center for Justice (republished at Free Press) discussing historical bowdlerization (a perjorative word for “sanitizing” art that has an interesting history) and current attempts to clean up motion pictures.

Bowdlerization is an impulse ever-present in the body politic. Today, we’re talking about the bowdlerization of movies. On one side, we have filmmakers protesting the mutilation of their work by profit-making companies selling software that cuts, blocks, and bleeps words, images, and entire scenes that the companies think offensive. On the other side, we have moralists, child protectors, and some opponents of strong copyright control arguing that this software is a tool of parental empowerment and that all of us should be able to revise movies for private viewing and eliminate the naughty parts.


Frankly, though, the more interesting questions are political, not legal, and once again, “family” is the term that is used, both in the proposed law and in setting the terms of policy debate. But does a tool that destroys the artistic integrity of films by – to take one prominent example – deleting the nudity and violence from depictions of the Holocaust in Schindler’s List, really help families? Are children protected from harm by watching sanitized versions of history, artistically incoherent narratives, and films shorn of words and images that their parents, or the entrepreneurs seeking to sell these products to parents, find troubling or offensive?

Read Heins’ piece, “Bleep: Censoring Hollywood,” at the Brennan Center (pdf) or Free Press (html). Excerpts can’t do it justice.


Clean or Dirty? Courts Will Decide

Filed under  by Amanda Toering — 04/19/2005 @ 8:47 am

The Washington Post tells the story of Ray Lines, a film editor whose job is to “sanitize” DVD releases of major motion pictures for squeamish viewers. Hollywood is up in arms, citing copyright violations and censorship. Both sides have asked for a court ruling to clarify the issue.

No one is quite sure how many sanitized films are sold and rented each year, but it appears to be a growing segment of the DVD market. Lines claims to have pioneered the business in 1999, after a neighbor asked him to edit “Titanic” on his home editing equipment. Since then, the field has expanded, with companies such as Family Flix, CleanFilms, Flicks Club and ClearPlay, all of which are based in Utah. The businesses started by catering to the state’s socially conservative Mormon population, but have expanded beyond that.

The dispute is, in some ways, less about money than a clash over social values and control of a creative product. “A lot of people are just really tired of what’s out there,” says Sandra Teraci, who runs Family Flix with her husband, Richard. “They’re tired of turning on the TV or renting a movie and constantly being hit by violence, profanity and nudity. A lot of people want to go back to the 1950s, before this sort of thing was routine.”

Rather than harming Hollywood’s bottom line, sanitizers say, they’re helping to expand it. Since the sanitizers buy a new original copy for every DVD they alter, the studios don’t lose a sale or royalties when a film is edited. Typically, the sanitizers buy an original copy of the movie, edit it on a computer, then send an altered copy, plus the disabled original, to the customer. The movie studios actually profit, says CleanFlicks’ Lines, because many customers wouldn’t rent or buy an unsanitized DVD.

Now on DVD: The Sanitizer’s Cut
, WaPo.

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