Friday, April 9, 2004


Memo to Wal-Mart and ClearPlay: YOU ARE... eh.
See, this is exactly the type of thing that SHOULD send me into a spittle-flying, rage-filled polemic on the dullards and morons who infest society. But I just can't work up the anger. The whole thing is sad, yes. It's disappointing. But at the end of the day, it's like watching people walk the wrong way on the merry go round. You know they're not going anywhere. You know they're gonna end up getting a pole in the face. But they're only fucking themselves over, and they're idiots, so who gives a damn?
Here's your obligatory backgrounder: RCA has struck a deal with ClearPlay to incorporate technology into a new DVD player, to be sold for eighty bucks at Wal-Mart. The people at ClearPlay watch movies and create a set of instructions for the DVD player. The DVD player then mutes the audio every time someone swears, and skips ahead anytime there's nudity, violence, or sexual content.
Which is, admittedly, completely and utterly obscene. An affront to art. A crazed "solution" to the perceived threat of media filth. But you know what? If people really want to go to Wal-Mart, buy their ClearPlay player, and watch their fullscreen, butchered version of Lake Placid which, according to ClearPlay's own site, has had the "Blood and Gore" reduced from EXTREME to MILD, the viloence reduced from EXTREME to MINOR, the language, including Betty White calling people "cocksucker", reduced from EXTREME to NONE, and the sex reduced from, um... MILD to MILD... well, let 'em. I'm sure it'll be a big time-saver, as they watch the stirring tale of eight people who go to a lake, and the two people who leave the lake.
I mean, it's barely even worth poking fun at the ClearPlay site, which mostly deals with the software-only version that works with your computer's DVD-playing software. I can see where this would be a big move for ClearPlay, as there's a bit of discrepancy between the markets of "people with the technical savvy to watch DVD's on their computer" and "mouth-breathing reactionaries with their heads up their ass". The Wal-Mart deal is a MUCH better fit.
The fine people at ClearPlay do warn people that "due to the story nature of some movies, and because ClearPlay only uses legal methods to control the DVD decoding, you will notice some of the ClearPlay skips and mutes. However, most subscribers quickly become accustomed to them and find them much less interruptive than the language, nudity or graphic violence that has been removed.", which I'll admit, is one of the all-time great sentences ever featured on YAD. The claim that only some movies have story elements. The implication that if only there weren't pesky legal restrictions holding them back, they could do a much nicer job of filth removal. And the knowledge that frequent jump cuts, discontinuities, and missing chunks of story are much less troubling than a boobie to their target audience...
I could even mention the blatant hypocrisy coming out of ClearPlay, which states repeatedly that its service exists to deal with "PG-13 and R-rated content", yet manages to find objectionable things to edit out of such PG-rated kids' fare as the two Harry Potter movies, Big (was there "mild blood and gore" in Big?!), The Iron Giant, the Freaky Friday and Parent Trap remakes (the latter of which has had its blood and gore reduced from Minor to Mild), and E.T. (because apparently Spielberg didn't fuck his own movie up enough).
But you know, at the end of the day, this kind of technology is actually great. Because it allows these bluenose, uptight assholes with no clue about art or entertainment to further isolate themselves from the rest of society. And it allows them to do so in the privacy of their own homes. It'll be like there's an entire nation of people who only saw the TV edit of Blazing Saddles. Eventually, the cultural gap will grow wider and wider. In time, the people with these players won't even know that "Aliens" has killing or that "Shrek" has fart jokes. And then they'll try to interact with the society they've rejected, and they'll be like an Amish elder at MacWorld, confused and frightened by all the flashing lights.
I figure it'll only be a few years beyond that when they all become like John Travolta in the plastic bubble. They'll have isolated themselves from violence, sex, and profanity so much that they'll have no natural defense against it. And on that day, "fuck" will become a KILLING WORD.
And they probably won't even understand the concept of a killing word, because their DVD player skipped over that entire section of Dune. Hoist on their own retard.