I’m definitely one of those guys that will watch a favorite film on cable when it comes on. I’m not sure why I’d spend three and a half hours watching Die Hard on TNT for the third time this weekend when I could just as easily pop in the disc and watch it in two hours and eleven minutes without commercial interference. I must admit that a film like Die Hard 2: Die Harder is funny to watch just to listen to all the strange curse replacements they’ve come up with.
However, most films are not funny when you watch how badly they’ve been mangled. Just the other day I flipped to Pulp Fiction on AMC. Now, I love AMC. Great channel, with great original programming and a ton of fantastic movies playing. What I didn’t love, though, was the edited version of Pulp they were showing. It was beyond laughable to downright shitty. There are some movies, filled to the brim with colorful language or graphic depictions of violence around every corner, that just weren’t meant for TV.
Scratch that. They just aren’t meant to be edited down. They’re not meant to be shown in a format they weren’t written and filmed for – ie, a safe, family friendly environment. Here in the US, and I’m sure many places abroad, there are broadcast standards that must be met and obeyed, which dictates what comes on at what times and how far they can go. The FCC is no stranger to handing out fines when someone shows the wrong cartoon or a character says the wrong iteration of the word cunt. Oops, I said a bad word.
There was a time when this censorship kind of made sense. You can argue for the broadcast channels being regulated, sure that’s one thing. But we have long based the days of twelve channels being transmitted through the air. Government has little to do now with the actual broadcasting or technology or anything – they just regulate. These days, many of us have cable, delivered to us via cables (duh), satellites, or whatever fancy gadget you might have. We pay a premium to get these channels. Not just services like HBO, where we pay a subscription fee, but channels like Spike, A&E, and USA Networks are not broadcast, nor are they handed out free free. We pay for this – shouldn’t we be able to get more for our money?
I mean, after all, if we pay HBO directly we can see tits and hear bad words on True Blood or see the flash of a wang in Bad Lieutenant (the original, not Nic Cage’s hang down). If we send Cinemax a few bucks, we see plenty of softcore porn. Hell, if we dole out the dollars to a porno channel, we can see hardcore sex. So why then, when I dole out the dollars to a cable company to make sure I get SyFy, why can’t I hear Ripley say “fuck?” Shouldn’t John McClane be able to say “Yippi Ki Yay, mother fucker?” After all, not just anyone can receive these channels. We’re all paying for it.
It’s not the governments job to regulate taste. If you believe they can regulate decency, the line is legally drawn at pornography. Something is pornographic or it’s not. Pulp Fiction is many things, but it is not pornographic. If we can agree that it’s not porn, then can we agree the government shouldn’t be the ones to regulate it? But, hark, hear the cries of parents everywhere, or politicians, who shall protect the wee children?
Well, the parents. And technology. Virtually every modern television set and cable service comes with parental controls. It’s standard equipment. This means a parent can block a program based on rating, channel, or what time it comes on it. You can restrict all the televisions or just the one in the children’s rooms, or set a code that allows each to be overridden. So if a parent doesn’t want their child to see Pulp Fiction, they can block the rating. Or if HBO is too stimulating, it can be age restricted.
If the FCC and the government would back off, then channels like AMC that respect movies would be free to show them uncut. Some channels like Comedy Central are already pushing the boundary just a bit by airing unedited movies after midnight, but why should midnight be the cut-off? More aggressive and adult programming is allowed at night because parents have made their children go to bed. Again – parents have made their children go to bed. If we trust the parents to enforce a bed time, why don’t we just trust them to block the bad channels if they think that’s necessary? We don’t need governmental nannies telling us our family business.
So, in conclusion, movies edited for content are bullshit. The reason why they’re bullshit is the government getting in our face. Perhaps there was time when that made sense, or was at the very least understandable, but that time is long past. I’m paying for services that the provider should be able to give me free of interference. After all, there is nothing illegal here. These products are readily available almost anywhere. So why am I given a bastardized version on cable, despite paying a hefty monthly fee? Every time I see a good movie edited for content, I fucking flip my dick past my god damn motherfucking shit taking boiling point. Fuck.