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The New Puritanism
A Video Store Cleans Up Its Act

By David Volk

One of the great things about being a humorist is that there’s no need to be encumbered by the actual fact process. On a busy day, there are plenty of stupid politicians and bad ideas to take potshots at. On slow days, it’s okay to either write a nostalgia column or make things up.

Then there are days when ugly things like Clean Hits Video in Federal Way, Washington emerge with a whole new level of Puritanism and the rants write themselves.

The owners of this new store specialize in videos for family viewing. Normally, this would be a recipe for financial ruin because the market for an all "G" rated store is undoubtedly infinitesimal, but the owners have added a new wrinkle to the concept.

Instead of just sticking with tried true "Dumbo" and "Free Willy" (the one about the whale, not the former president), the owners have edited "PG" and "R" rated films that good Christian families would find offensive. They’ve edited out what the proprietors call "sex, nudity, profanity, or excess violence."

"We’re doing Hollywood a favor. Many of these people wouldn’t otherwise view these films," said one of the owners in a recent radio interview defending the practice of sanitizing perfectly good (and perfectly awful) movies, putting them back on the shelves and renting them out as the real thing.

While it could be argued that it’s probably a good thing that such people wouldn’t see these films, there’s no need to go down that road. Instead, it’s more fun to look at the catalogue of titles and talk about what cuts the company has already made and suggest a few new ones along the way. I admit I haven’t seen any of the new versions of the films, but that’s the joy of being unencumbered by the truth process. I can simply make it up as I go along.

Here’s a modest selection of the store’s films and how they’ve been changed:

AMISTAD: Slavery was edited out due to concerns about political correctness.

ANGELA’S ASHES: Poverty and anti-church sentiment were edited out. The family is still Irish, but now they have been relocated to a lower middle class neighborhood, near Detroit.

A BEAUTIFUL MIND: This was a tough one. Initially, the company toyed with editing out mental illness, but then opted to edit out visions of the younger child due to concerns over the rash of recent child abductions. The imaginary college friend was edited out. In addition, John Nash no longer asks women to screw him. The imaginary paranoid cold warrior is now a real friend because "the Commies really are out to get us."

THE BODYGUARD: In a surprising show of taste, Kevin Costner was removed and the theme song is now sung by Dolly Parton, not Whitney Houston.

BRAVEHEART: With the rape and death of his wife edited out, Mel Gibson is now angry for no good reason. He goes on a rampage but never actually fights because excessive violence has been removed.

THE COLOR PURPLE All references to the color purple were removed due to its potential sexual suggestiveness.

DR. DOOLITTLE I & II: Images of animal genitalia were removed because they were "engorged and tingling."

GLADIATOR: Excessive violence was removed. Now the total running time has been reduced to three minutes, five seconds.

THE HORSE WHISPERER: Whispers were removed due to fear of possible sexual content.

OCTOPUSSY: Now called either "Octocat" or "Octovagina," it was renamed due to the sexually suggestive nature of its title.

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN: Extreme violence was edited out. However, in an effort to keep the movie from being too short to rent, a sex scene was added.

STAR WARS: In another surprising show of good taste, Jar Jar Binks was removed from all films. Unfortunately, "family entertainer" Jerry Lewis is his replacement.

SIXTH SENSE (my personal favorite): The child no longer sees dead people due to the violent nature of their deaths. Instead, the boy says, "I see stupid people." The film now stars George W. Bush.

I hear Siskel would have given it his thumbs up seal of approval, but the company edited it out because they thought his thumb looked too much like a penis.



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