Edited movies for TV

I have decided I need to somehow write down my thoughts on movies that are “edited for content” before a TV network dares to show them. See, since I didn’t grow up here in the US, the whole idea confuses me. I grew up in a nation where the level of violence is more important for a movie’s rating than the amount of nudity, and where movies shown on TV are never edited for content. If they are unsuitable for children they’re just shown late in the evening.

Over here, the spoken dialog is edited (most often by the offensive words just not being heard), certain images are just not shown, and so on. The TV networks don’t want to offend either its viewers or the FCC, so they try to keep things curse-free and fully dressed.

What confuses me is that with some of the movies they do it to, it just makes no sense. I was watching the start of the movie Casino earlier today, and noticed that they are blanking out the notorious f-word whenever someone uses it. There’s an annoying gap in whatever is being said as the offending monosyllabic is erased every time it’s being spoken. Now, if this was a movie like Major League I would, in a way, understand that. That’s something that your children might watch with you, and you don’t want to have to explain to them for the next week or so that they can’t use that word just because they heard Charlie Sheen say it on TV.

However, the movie Casino is a different matter. The plot contains excessive and gory violence, including a scene where a man has his hand smashed by a sledgehammer, and another where Joe Pesci tortures a guy by slowly, slowly squashing his head with a power tool. There is open and blatant over-use of drugs such as cocaine, and on-screen sex of all kinds. If it’s okay to show all that on TV in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, why even bother to blank out a word here and there in Pesci’s voice-over tirades?

I can understand a desire to keep TV content clean and smut free, but there needs to be some sort of common sense and logic applied to how that is done. Especially since Major League went uncensored, and I clearly could hear the words “fuck” and “shit” being said here and there throughout, whereas the average viewer of the movie Casino apparently is too easily offended to be exposed to that kind of language.

I am confused.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Edited movies for TV

  1. Anna

    Interesting. I fully agree that some language is not suitable for childrens ears, but then, as you say, such films should not be shown in the middle of the afternoon. Show the film late at night instead. Also they should be consistent, if one film is censored so should all be. Especially one that children might be watching. But then, perhaps grownups are more sensitive when it comes to offensive language then children are, otherwise they would have different standards for censore, wouldn’t they?

  2. Mimsy

    Sometimes I think that the main reason things like that are done is because of the grownups who may be watching, and who are deeply offended. But because they don’t want to come across as overly sensitive and wussy, they use “protect the children!” as an excuse, to cover up their own offended sensibilities. The ridiculous attempts to ban the Harry Potter books because they might teach children magic, are an excellent example. Primarily because if your child isn’t smart enough to know that those books are fiction, and if you’re not smart enough to know that when your child is playing Hogwarts with his friends he’s only pretending (and he is, they know the difference between reality and play), then a couple of books probably isn’t your family’s biggest problem.

    It is, in a way, strange and sad, that what by definition is a good thing, protecting children, is so readily used as an excuse for something far less noble: Censorship.

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