There's a relatively new system out on the market called ClearPlay that is designed to filter out offensive content from movies so that puritan-leaning parents can watch things like Goodfellas with their 8 year olds. The phenomenon is disturbing a lot of people, but I think mainly for the wrong reasons. The studios are trying to sue over copyright, creators of movies are understandably distressed about their work being misrepresented for sanitized home viewing, and movie fans are up-in-arms about creator rights and artistic vision. To me, the problem is not about copyright and ownership at all.

We all want to have some modicum of control over our environment and our lives. I've bitched about not being able to get a sandwich made the way I like it at a deli, and that's just a minor example of the same thing that folks with the ClearPlay system are doing. They want to see the world in their own way: to restructure and filter everything about the world that doesn't fit in with their existing worldview. Evolution in school textbooks?--not for my kids! Dirty words in popular music?--I'll take the clean version (available at Wal-Mart) please. Too much sex and violence in movies?--now there's ClearPlay to fix that! People have taken the simple urge to shape their surroundings into something more pleasant and palpable and mutated it into a set of cultural blinders that reject or ignore that the world isn't really a PG place. We need violence in movies sometimes. We need to see graphic sex sometimes. There IS a difference between saying "FUCK THIS JOB" and "dang this job!" I understand not wanting to sit through the profanity-fest that is "Glengarry, Glen Ross" but then, I don't understand why anyone would want to see what's left of the movie when you cut out all of the swearing!

I think people ought to have the right to re-edit movies at home, or filter movies for their families if they really want to. It's depressing that there are enough people out there with this worldview that a product like ClearPlay is viable, but I respect people's right to use it. Unfortunately, the end result of this can't be anything good. If parents don't want their kids to see Scream 3, the solution is to not allow them to see it, not to show them a neutered, edited version and pretend that it was a PG film all along. The world outside of these ClearPlay DVD players is not edited for content, or formatted to fit your screen. Let's hope people growing up in these households are ready for that.