Self-Censorship

Gangster Squad Reshoots

Real life tragedies affecting film releases isn’t a new phenomenon. There was a period after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 where films shot in New York City before the World Trade Center went down had to go back and edit scenes out or use digital trickery if even a glimpse of the Twin Towers appeared in a shot. And, more recently, upcoming comedy The Watch had its title changed and one of its trailers pulled after content in the ad too closely echoed the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. People don’t like to be reminded of horrible things when they’re trying to go out for a night of entertainment. So, it comes as no surprise that in the wake of the theater shooting that took place during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, some films are going to be making adjustments to their content and marketing efforts in order to not inappropriately echo the tragedy that took place. So far the studio that’s most immediately affected is Warner Bros. Not only did they have millions of dollars worth of violence-filled TV ads for The Dark Knight Rises pulled from the airwaves over the weekend, but they also cancelled several special screenings where the stars of the film were scheduled to make personal appearances. And another of their upcoming releases, the Ruben Fleischer-directed Gangster Squad, is making it necessary for them to make even more adjustments.

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Neighborhood Watch

The tragic killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin is such a widely reported and consistently commented-upon national news item that it was bound to have impact beyond the family of the victim and the community in which it took place. The details of the shooting have yet to be poured over in a courtroom setting, which will probably entail another long stretch of media attention, and already the effects of the story have started to hit Hollywood. More specifically, they’ve affected the marketing of Akiva Schaffer’s upcoming comedy, Neighborhood Watch, which stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade as a quartet of overzealous members of their local neighborhood watch program. The story and the movie are being connected because Martin’s shooting came at the hands of a man who was both a member of a similar program, and also thought to be by many overzealous in his pulling of the trigger. The real big problem is that the film’s teaser trailer features a moment in which Hill’s character makes a gun with his finger and pulls the trigger while it’s pointed at a group of neighborhood kids. As you can imagine, that plays as being fairly offensive in light of recent events, so Fox has pulled the ad and the film’s first poster from Florida markets.

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Boiling Point

As much fun as it would be to pick on SOPA/PIPA some more and make some jokes about how “SOPA,” when said aloud, is Spanish for soup, this is something entirely different. Oh, it still has to deal with censorship, but this is some self-imposed completely idiotic and maddening censorship. On air, movies and television have to play by a set of rules. These rules aren’t totally set in stone, but basically there are some words you can say and some you can’t say. Then there are some you can sort of say, but mostly only in the right context. An example? Pretty much any show on at any time could say “bitch” meaning female dog, because that’s just the definition of the word. If you want to call someone a bitch, generally that’s kept to after 8pm. Cable gets a bigger break than network, as it’s a paid service, but that doesn’t mean they’re immune to fines and more importantly, advertiser backlash, so everyone kind of plays with kid gloves. Of course, it’s parents who should be responsible for policing the television. If a show wants to say bad words, let them. Put it on after 8pm, put a “Language” notice on it, and parents can set their TVs to block it. Easy cakes. I mean, I still don’t understand why HBO, Showtime, and Cinemax won’t show hardcore porn, because why not, amirite? But I’m getting distracted by the thoughts of boobies. This boiling point is specifically about language. […]

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We’ve reported before on the possibility of The Weinstein Company shooting for an edited version of The King’s Speech in order to get a brand new, shiny PG-13 rating. According to Variety, they’ve successfully done so. What does it all mean? It means that an Oscar contender for Best Picture has been watered down because 1) bad language is dangerous to our youth 2) teenagers put down their Nintendo DSes and sexting devices for long enough to lobby TWC to get a teenager-friendly version approved and/or 3) none of the above. What it really means is that if you haven’t seen the film, and you want to see it in all its (literal) fucking glory, you might not be able to soon. If TWC decides to pull all of the original, un-bowdlerized versions and replace them with the PG-13 version (which some source are saying has the words muted. That’s right. Muted. You’ll hear nothing instead of a human talking where a human is supposed to be talking), then you might be out of luck. As adults and movie fans, the only response is to do the opposite of what TWC expects – don’t go see the film specifically because its been edited. It’s unclear what role Tom Hooper played in this move, if any, but it is clear that The Weinstein Company has done it solely because they feel it will expand their profit base. However, the millions of teenagers demanding access to this film will finally get it […]

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According to the LA Times, Harvey Weinstein has said that for a post-Oscar theatrical re-release of The King’s Speech he is, “talking with director Tom Hooper about trimming the profanity that earned the film an R rating in order to attain a PG-13 or even PG.” Apparently he wants to copy the British model for the film’s success where less harsh restriction let children over 12 in to see the movie. This is a good idea from where I’m sitting. Just the other day I overheard a group of fifteen year-old boys talking about how they got turned away from seeing The King’s Speech on a Saturday night and had to resort to breaking bottles in the alley behind the 7-11 and smoking cigarettes they stole from their mom instead. And with a PG rating, The Weinstein Co. could also take advantage of the potential market that comes from all of actor Colin Firth’s “Tiger Beat” pin-up spreads. I know more than one tween girl who was disappointed that they haven’t been able to see the movie. The only problem lies in the compromises that may be made in trimming the film. Seeing as how the use of profanity is a pretty important plot point as to how Firth’s George VI overcomes his stammering, I can only imagine that dubbing would have to take the place of huge scene cuts. If they take a page out of the broadcast version of The Big Lebowski and work in the phrase “find […]

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