Sanitizing Entertainment

By Wayne Jackson

Do you remember the commercial advertisement that showed a young woman smoking a cigarette, with this caption: “You’ve come a long way, baby!”?

That slogan has become almost legendary, describing so many different elements in American society. We have come “a long way,” and much of it has been straight down.

Take the movie industry as an example. I remember, as a young boy, how shocked my mother was when she went to the movies and saw Gone With The Wind (which first came out in 1939). She was quite dismayed that Rhett Butler (played by Clark Gable) had abruptly said to Scarlett O’Hara: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” It was a most unusual phenomenon—even for the movies. [Note: There is nothing intrinsically evil about the term “damn” (cf. Mark 16:16, KJV). It has become, however, a common expression of profanity, and people of spiritual refinement do not employ the word in an expletive fashion.]

In the days of my youth, neither Gene Autry nor Roy Rogers would dare to kiss the leading lady. Even married couples were portrayed as sleeping in twin beds. If that was unrealistic, at least it was not harmful.

What a different world we have today! Increasingly, we are becoming desensitized to vulgarity.

One can hardly change the television channels without hearing the vilest sort of language. There is hope on the horizon, however. News sources recently reported concerning a new device that will be marketed in the not-too-distant future (if not already available in some places). The system, which attaches to your television set, has a built-in vocabulary of some two hundred profanely used words. Whenever the mechanism “hears” these expressions, it automatically filters them out. What a great idea! I predict this will be a very popular item with those who still revere the biblical admonition concerning “filthy communication” (cf. Colossians 3:8).

A similar circumstance made the news a week or so ago. There is a family video store near Salt Lake City that edits video tapes for the very reasonable price of only five dollars. The owners, conscientious Mormons, have been editing films for a couple of years, but they attracted attention in a big way when they recently advertised that they would “snip” the nudity and the sex scenes from the popular movie, Titanic.

A radio talk-show picked up on the announcement and the result was surprising, not only to Don Biesinger, the store owner, but to others as well—including some in the movie industry. Mr. Biesinger told news reporters that on the day after the release of Titanic on video, there were a hundred people, including representatives from four TV stations, waiting in line to have their videos sanitized!

Many Americans are sick of the garbage that invades their homes via the movie/TV industries. They would like some decent entertainment instead of the slime that is palmed off under that name. Do you remember when a good movie was based upon writing, acting, and filming skills, rather than upon a parade of sluts and sleaze? Great movies—classic movies—had neither vulgar profanity nor did they flaunt sex. These great films will live on and on, while the modern porno productions will fade into the oblivion they so richly deserve.

Some of the movie moguls are up in arms over this. They don’t want anyone tampering with their stenchy productions. One Hollywood director, John Frankenheimer, has vehemently protested this editing process. He says that cutting out nudity is “mutilating art.” Frankenheimer compared it to painting a bathing suit on one of Picasso’s “nudes.”

In the judgment of many, not a few of Picasso’s “art” works could be wonderfully enhanced by a bucket of latex and a broad roller!

One major movie studio has hinted that legal action may be forthcoming. Defenders of the editing procedure have observed, however, that the airline industry has been editing their in-flight movies for some time—and they are perfectly at liberty to do so.

In the meantime, it appears that other companies may be offering the editing service. More power to them! It seems to me that this would be a good business for young entrepreneurs who still retain their spiritual “sense and sensibility.”

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.