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Greater Meaning of Battle Over Movie Content

CNET reports that a federal judge in Colorado has handed the entertainment industry a big win in its protracted legal battle against a handful of small companies that offer sanitized versions of theatrical releases on DVD.

The case encompasses two of Hollywood's biggest headaches these days: the culture wars and the disruptive influence of digital technologies.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch came down squarely on the side of the Directors Guild of America and the major studios in his ruling that the companies must immediately cease all production, sale and rentals of edited videos.

The summary judgment requires the companies -- Utah-based CleanFlicks, CleanFilms and Play It Clean Video, Arizona-based Family Flix USA and the separate entity CleanFlicks of Colorado -- to turn over all existing copies of their edited movies to lawyers for the studios for destruction within five days of the ruling.

Utah's CleanFlicks, which describes itself as the largest distributor of 'edited' movies, through online sales and rentals and sales to video stores in Utah, Arizona and other states in the region, said it would continue its 'fight' against the guild and the studios. CleanFlicks and the others make copies of official DVD releases and then edit them for sex, nudity, violence and profanity.

While the United States government takes a very critical view of religious extremists in the Arab world (the rhetoric regarding Iran, as an example), its leadership is clearly split regarding how to react to the actions of religious extremists on the home front. Apparently, attempts to remove 'profanity' is usually where the extremists rationalize their actions, but then when the editing process evolves to removing other scenes in movies, then this is where the whole rationale becomes very subjective.

Moreover, since America is the undisputed lead producer of movies and television programming that contain large amounts of gratuitous violence, I find it odd that these scenes are often not viewed through the same 'inappropriate content' lens of indignation. IMHO, American culture has reached a point in its development where it's torn between opposing forces that seperate the population, and deeply fracture what could once be referred to as the 'mainstream' opinion.

Perhaps it's akin to what happened within the Soviet Union -- where ethnic, cultural, political and religious differences became too great to hold the union together. As an example, many residents in Utah already believe that they have little in-common with the general populace of Massachusetts.

Therefore, I wonder, is the United States still 'united enough' to stay together as one nation? Or, are the apparent sub-culture differences of these various sects ultimately going to nullify a 200+ year old declaration, and will Common Sense force yet another series of divisive separations?

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