Would you like to enjoy movies without cleavage, carnage, and cussing? Is that a joke, Stephen? Do such movies even exist today? Doesn't every movie feature some combination of bosoms, blood, or bad words? I'm afraid so. Even a movie like "Beauty and the Beast" (1991), which is rated G:
How about the old classic "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial", which is rated PG? I remember watching it as a kid and enjoying it except for some language issues. The movie:
How about the latest Star Wars movie ("The Force Awakens")? With its PG-13 rating, it:
And, let's look at one more for the sake of comparison: "Saving Private Ryan." This movie, with its R rating:
All of the above movies are currently rated in the top ten historically in their respective categories in all-time box office gross dollars. They were all big hits. I've seen them all except for "Saving Private Ryan," and I had avoided it in the past because of the language issue.
However, I might make time to view it in the future since now I could watch it from the convenience of my home for $1 without any of the cursing or blasphemy thanks to a relatively new company called VidAngel. That's right, only $1 and the bad language problem completely resolved! I was introduced to this amazing company over a month ago and have used their service five times already much to my satisfaction! I want to tell you how it works and encourage you, when you watch movies, to use their service:
(1) Create a VidAngel account on your computer, laptop, or via their smart phone app.
(2) Search for a movie you'd like to watch (their options are good and many new movies are available the same day they are released on DVD). They have an expanding library of TV programs, also.
(3) Open that movie's filter page and activate whatever filters you desire in five major categories:
You are completely empowered here to view or listen to whatever you choose (if you want to leave in all or just some of the violence, you can, for example). The details I shared above about the four movies came from their respective VidAngel filter pages (which are quite detailed). For example, I can have all profanity and blasphemy muted during the movie with one-click on the filter page (and it saves my basic preferences for the next movie I watch; though I can change any filter for each movie as desired). Or, if I want to be selective in which words will or will not be heard, I can go into detailed settings. The same is true with the other categories. If you don't want to see the cleavage shots in "Beauty and the Beast," for instance, one click removes them and the movie will be two minutes shorter.
(4) After you save your filter settings, you can rent the movie from VidAngel in standard definition for $1 for a 24-hour-period (or in high definition for $2). After payment is made the movie will start streaming immediately with all your filter preferences activated on whatever device you are using (desktop, laptop, or smart phone).
(5) If you want to play it on your TV, you will need to have a way to connect your TV to the internet. Our family already owned a Roku box and it works great! You could also use Google Chromecast or Apple TV, for example. We had to download the VidAngel app to the Roku menu and also register the device with VidAngel, but after that initial set up was complete now I can sit on the couch, set filters appropriately and rent a movie from my smart phone, and have it playing on the TV in just a couple minutes total (which is faster than going to Redbox or the video store). It's great and all for $1 (which is cheaper than Redbox or the video store--and I don't have to return anything or pay late fees)!
But, is it legal to filter movies like this? That's been a stumbling block for companies of the past trying to clean-up movies. The answer is: Yes, it's legal because of the way VidAngel is set up. Technically, you're not renting movies. You are purchasing them for $20 upfront and you are legally allowed to skip scenes or mute audio on a movie you own however you like (since no hard copy is being edited). You own the full movie and are simply muting or skipping parts of it during playback with the help of the filters. Wait a minute, Stephen, $20?! Yes, but hear me out on the cost. You could choose to keep the movie for $20 which would mean you could stream it anytime you want with the VidAngel filters (tomorrow or ten years from now). But, I'd much rather take the option that most do: Use VidAngel's automatic buy-back option.
The automatic buy-back option works like this: Let's say you "rent" the latest Hunger Games at 9 P.M. tonight and it's your first time using VidAngel. Initially your credit card will be charged for $20. If you select the auto buy-back option, you would be able to view the movie via VidAngel (with whatever filters you choose) until 9 P.M. the next evening. Then, you could no longer access it and VidAngel automatically buys it back from you for $19. The $19 is put in your VidAngel account as a credit (it does not go back on your credit card unless you want to close your account with VidAngel). So, essentially you only paid $1 to "rent" the movie for 24 hours. The next time you want to rent, you pay $1 to get your balance up to $20. Then you "buy" the movie for 24 hours (and your balance goes down to $0). At the end of 24 hours, they buy it back and credit your account $19. It's worked smoothly for us on five movies so far and the filters have been outstanding (especially the audio muting of blasphemy and profanity). There are times I can tell where a scene has skipped a few seconds but it's not been choppy or distracting. We've used a TV Guardian device on our TV for many years and it does OK at getting a lot of bad language muted, but VidAngel is much more effective in my experiences thus far.
But Stephen, won't filtering ruin the movies? It could if key scenes are filtered out, but VidAngel has thought of that, too. For example, on "Saving Private Ryan" there are certain scenes in the violence/blood/gore category that cannot be filtered out because they are vital to the plot. They warn you about this on the filters page, however. Removing language doesn't ever seem to be a problem since they only mute the profanity or blasphemy and not the background noise or other audio.
There might be some movies that are so filthy that although filtering the garbage out is possible, there may not be much left to play afterward. Take "The Wolf of Wall Street," for example. With over eight hundred filters for language alone (including five hundred f-bombs), a curse word is uttered every sixteen seconds, on average. So there will be lots of muting (although the language filters do not shorten the duration of the movie since no scenes are removed for language). However, when I activate the sex/nudity/immodesty filters for the movie, the duration goes down by ten minutes (which is actually less than I expected) considering it lists twenty-one sex acts (including vaginal, oral, manual stimulation, masturbation, homosexual, and group sex). Clearly, just a glance at the filters page lets me know this won't be a movie I'll be viewing even with VidAngel.
But there are movies with maybe just a scene or two (or language issues) that VidAngel will make accessible to me and my family. I did see "Titanic" (rated PG-13) as a teenager. In truth, it was a mistake. With nearly seventy-five curse words or blasphemies, that's a problem, and we sadly can get desensitized to it (more on that shortly). Additionally, there is a four minute section where a nude woman is being sketched. Although it was over eighteen years ago, I still, to my chagrin, remember it too well. Once those images are etched into our minds, it is difficult to remove them! I believe the movie overall is worthwhile, but not if the explicit portions cannot be avoided. VidAngel makes this possible and it's so easy to use!
There are some Christians who would advocate not viewing any movies because of content. I can respect their view although I believe they should give VidAngel a try to sanitize some otherwise very good movies. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who believe that nothing they take in via their eyes or ears will harm them. Friends, don't be foolish. When we see immodesty, nudity, and sex, and hear profanities and blasphemies over and over again, we will gradually become callused to it, if not given over to it. I know Christians who struggle mightily with cursing, for example, because they are immersed in it because of ungodly co-workers. Evil companions do corrupt good morals, whether in person or in a movie (cf. I Cor. 15:33).
Let me leave you with two final thoughts: