Film Cutting Ethics: Three Episodes

 1.  The Canadian Broadcast Company edited Donald Trump’s cameo out of “Home Alone II” when the Christmas-themed family film was aired this week. That sets some kind of record for pettiness, don’t you think? The CBC lamely denies that they meant anything by it, responding to an inquiry,  “As is often the case with features adapted for television, Home Alone 2 was edited to allow for commercial time within the format.” Sure. I believe that! Don’t you believe that?

2. One cable station ran “Die Hard” all day. That’s a great way to entertain families on Christmas. Well, to be honest, we started to watch it at the Marshall house, until it became apparent that every single arguably vulgar word was edited out, making the whole film sound like a skipping LP.  “Shit” and “fuck” were gone; “dumbass” became “Dumb—-“.  And the movie’s signature line, the catchphrase that was used in all four sequels, “Yippee-kiyay, motherfucker,” was censored. Unethical. I thought this battle was won when they stopped cutting “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” from “Gone With The Wind,” and “Fill your hand you sonofabitch!” out of “True Grit.” If you won’t show the whole movie, then don’t pretend to show the movie.

3. Disney has cut a same sex female kiss in the version of “The Rise of Skywalker” that is being shown in Singapore, so  children can see it. “The applicant has omitted a brief scene which under the Film Classification Guidelines would require a higher rating,” a spokeswoman from Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development said. Naturally, LGBTQ groupd stateside are making a big deal about it. That’s nonsensical. The film is not political or some kind of a pro-gay declaration. The kiss was not central to the plot, and if other recent products are any indication (I haven’t see the film), it was probably gratuitous pandering anyway.

Director J.J. Abrams had promoted the scene, saying ,“Part of the whole experience was to see a same-sex couple have a moment together that was explicitly saying in this galaxy, everyone is there and is welcome,.”

To which I say, “gag me with a spoon.” The absence of openly gay charaters doesn’t mean a movie is saying that they don’t exist. If you watch an action movie wondering about the sexual orientations of the characters, something is the matter with you. Their sexuality is irrelevant. I don’t mind gay relationships in dramas; I do object to the current obsession with showing them in every drama, creating the false believe that the absence of any group in a film or TV show is an insult to them.

22 thoughts on “Film Cutting Ethics: Three Episodes

  1. ”it became apparent that every single arguably vulgar word was edited out, making the whole film sound like a skipping LP.”

    Kinda the same thing here; early on Christmas Eve Beverly Hills Cop, and its first sequel, were on one of the cable nets.

    After discovering that my lovely and long suffering wife had never seen either, we tuned in; LOT’S of bleeping.

    If they ever showed HBO’s ​Deadwood​ series on regular T.V., it’d be a silent film…

  2. #1) “That sets some kind of record for pettiness, don’t you think?”

    Maybe, but I still think the award goes to the Governor of “my” state, Andrew Cuomo, for his latest veto.

  3. 1. It doesn’t mention it in the article you posted, but on twitter the company said the edits were done in 2014. I don’t think malice was intended here.

    • Why do you think there wasn’t malice in 2014 (or 2015, in another source)? Also, the fact that the President of the United States was no longer in a film being broadcast now would have to occur to a competent station manager. And they are responsible for the content of what they show, whenever they show it.

  4. 1) I read online speculation about which cast member of “Home Alone” would be impeached next.

    2) >>until it became apparent that every single arguably vulgar word was edited out, making the whole film sound like a skipping LP.

    They had a television cut of “Superbad” recently. The cut, well, lived up to name of the film. After cutting everything vulgar out, it turns out there isn’t any movie left.

    3) >>The kiss was not central to the plot, and if other recent products are any indication (I haven’t see the film), it was probably gratuitous pandering anyway.

    Yes.

  5. The kiss is a quick blink-and-you-miss-it celebratory gesture in a crowd, hardly anything that should be viewed as an endorsement by anyone other than the company execs themselves trying to throw a diversity bone to the LGBTQ community.

    • I wasn’t aware of it or looking for it, but I noticed it. It panned on them just long enough.

      (Of course, it was two humanoids, so who knows how gender even works in that species….)

  6. Yes, the kiss was pandering, just as editing it out was pandering.

    That is what drives me nuts about this junk. They throw it in to show how enlightened they are, but edit it out when money is on the line.

    -Jut

  7. I’m all for having a lot less vulgarity in movies. Most of it is there purely for the ‘shock’ value anyway. I used to have a foul mouth in my early teens, as did all my friends, and it is something I battle with every day to this very minute. These days almost all my activities involve people who rarely, if ever, swear, and I can’t say that it makes them boring, uninteresting or less pleasant to be around.

    That said, cutting/bleeping it out of existing movies is not just statue toppling, it’s completely pointless. Most kids learn the words at Kindergarten, if not at home before then!

    My wife and I watched ‘The Kings Speech’ again last night, and even she laughed at King George VI swearing his head off as he tried to deal with his stutter. Sometimes profanity is completely appropriate.

    • “Most kids learn the words at Kindergarten, if not at home before then!”

      One of my favorite bits in “A Christmas Story”, which of course I just watched a couple times over the past few days, is the part where Ralphie says “the queen mother of all dirty words” in front of his father, and when he’s being punished his mother demands to know where he heard that word. He’s afraid of telling the truth, that his father “worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay”, so he blames one of his friends.

      While I don’t see the need for gratuitous swearing on TV, editing it out of movies like “Die Hard”, which young children shouldn’t be watching anyway, is pretty stupid. It’s okay for them to see 90 minutes of non-stop violence, but we draw the line at a handful of arbitrarily-chosen words?

  8. So is Trump the second US president to appear in a motion picture before he was elected, besides Ronald Reagan, or have there been others?

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