Cleanflix (2009)

Cleanflix (2009)

Taking the filth out of film


This week I’ll be reviewing a fascinating documentary called Cleanflix, which examines several companies that popped up in the late ’90s and soared to great heights. It is a beautiful story that shows that nothing can triumph over the entrepreneurial spirit. Unless, of course, your idea is entirely based on copyright infringement.

Sex. Violence. Profanity. These are the cornerstone of a great motion picture. However, believe it or not, there are individuals out there who would prefer not to see or hear these things. One particular group that does not enjoy these elements are Mormons. According to Wikipedia, 63 per cent of the population of Utah is Mormons. So as you can imagine, video rentals for films such as Die Hard or The Bikini Car Wash Company lagged in this state.

However, several enterprising Mormons came up with a brilliant idea to not only allow Mormons to enjoy the latest Hollywood blockbusters, but to also line their pockets as well. CleanFlicks and several competing businesses began to offer edited versions of popular films. Cleanflix shows how skilled editors took out the offending bits of films such as The Matrix, The Big Lebowski, and Schindler’s List! They even took the ‘tit’ out of Titanic, modifying the famous scene where Kate Winslet posed nude for Leonardo DiCaprio. I personally found this one to be outrageous – I mean that was the most important part of the film, what else even happened in it?

This whole practice did not sit well with some Hollywood bigwigs. We hear from director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s 11, Traffic), who criticizes CleanFlicks and other such companies for altering his creative vision. I shudder to think what Mr. Soderbergh would think of my own personal hobby of inserting nudity into films. If you thought Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze was great, wait until you see my version, in which Angelina Jolie makes a surprise cameo where she has a shower in the middle of a battle between Donatello and Shredder.

Considering that giants such as Blockbuster didn’t manage to stick around, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that these edited movie businesses also did not stand the test of time. The Director’s Guild of America struck the first blow, and despite the best (and quite illegal) efforts of some video retailers, Mormons once again found themselves unable to enjoy the latest gangster films.

While I prefer to wallow in filth, I found myself feeling bad for the cinema-loving Mormons of the world. Sure, Cleanflix does shine a light on a great deal of hypocrisy – these people are so pure that they don’t want to see Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman canoodling in Black Swan, yet they have no qualms about shelling out their dough for an illegally produced version of these films. Still, I do feel bad that these poor folks are now forced to turn to other more bland forms of entertainment, like churning butter or watching a Utah Jazz game. If I have any Mormon readers out there, might I suggest a conversion to Roman Catholicism. You can watch anything as long as you eventually confess to it.


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