CleanFlix and Clean Flicks: A Look At Edited Movies

Once upon a time, my wife and I watched a TV movie on a basic cable channel — the TV-edited version of a movie that was originally rated R in theaters. It was okay, but the interesting part was what we didn’t see.

After our viewing, I perused some of the fan blogs and critic’s reviews, and found that a large amount of online discussion centered around the (apparent) full-frontal nude scene of one of the lead actresses. That nude scene was not in the TV-edited version we saw, of course, but my wife and I discussed it the rest of the evening and couldn’t figure out for the life of us where that nude scene would have been in the edited version we saw. Usually, it’s obvious where content has been cut for TV, but in this case we couldn’t come up with any scene — beginning, middle, or end — where nudity from this actress’s character would have made any sense in the context of the film.

I can’t decide if that was a poor job of editing, or a superb one — what better definition of “gratuitousness” is there if viewers not only do not notice it is missing, but can’t figure out where it was supposed to go even after hearing it was missing…

The primary principle behind editing movies for content is typified by the above story: most PSV (profanity/sex/violence) content in movies today seems to be less than necessary — even superfluous — to a film’s plot, tone, or mood. Love, romance — even ‘erotic’ elements — can be visualized without sex or nudity. Conflict — including battle scenes — can be visualized without bloodshed. And just about any emotion or meaning can be verbalized without profanity.

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