Let Us Filter

By Joselin Fogelberg

Movie night is an underestimated element of family life. Sharing the experience strengthens relationships, offers opportunities to discuss sensitive issues, and builds trust. However, this can all be compromised by inappropriate material, such as profanity and pornographic content. This quickly makes the secure atmosphere uncomfortable, which is why VidAngel, the Utah based streaming service, came to the rescue.

VidAngel is a filtering company which allows consumers to pick and choose elements that they want taken out before the movie has started playing. This allows parents and individuals to feel at ease because they are safe from being exposed to objectionable material. You, as the viewer, have complete control.

However, four major Hollywood studios (Disney, Lucasfilm, Warner Bros, and 20th Century Fox) considered this a gross misuse of their content and sued VidAngel. The lawsuit would be understandable if VidAngel weren’t paying them (which they were), or were in any way disobeying the Family Movie Act (which they weren’t),  a law passed by Congress in 2005 to protect the right to filter. The law states that filtering companies do not need permission from Hollywood as long as they don’t distribute a permanently filtered copy. Even though VidAngel followed the Family Movie Act and all earnings went directly to the movie makers, Hollywood still went after them. Yet would the Hollywood studios not benefit more from being able to reach a wider audience?

Filtering movies may not seem important, but it performs the important task of providing a safe space to escape to. My mom has a congenital heart disease that required open heart surgery. Her time paralyzed after surgery was spent watching films in the hospital room before she could move and talk again. Even now, she doesn’t have as much energy as other people do, which means that my family can’t bond over going out for long hours or doing physically demanding things. Instead, we have weekly movie nights where we can feel closer as a family. I am eternally thankful for the entertainment industry. Health, relationships, and school can all be difficult to navigate sometimes, and it is often uplifting to be able to escape by being transported to another world through film. We are all exposed to unwanted things in everyday life but this is all the more reason to be able to filter film. We deserve to have control of our safe space, especially if it’s the only safe space for someone, like my mom.

The benefits of safe viewing are clear. It can make any film suitable for religious sensitivities, personal values, and family dynamics. Of course directors should have control of what they put in a movie, but let us control what we take out.
Works Cited

Caldwell, Tiffany. “Utah-Based VidAngel Files for Bankruptcy amid Court Battle against Disney and Other Studios.” The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Oct. 2017, www.sltrib.com/news/2017/10/19/utah-based-vidangel-files-for-bankruptcy-amid-court-battle-against-disney-and-other-studios/.

Douthat, Ross. “Let’s Ban Porn.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Feb. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/10/opinion/sunday/lets-ban-porn.html.

Evans, Whitney. “Hollywood vs. VidAngel: A Look at the Legal Battle over the Utah-Based Streaming Service.” DeseretNews.com, Deseret News, 12 Dec. 2016, www.deseretnews.com/article/865669154/VidAngel-case-could-set-legal-precedent.html.

“Image of a Family Enjoying Movie Night.” Huffington Post, Common Sense Media, 21 Nov. 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/common-sense-media/5-tips-to-make-family-movie-night-a-success_b_4305538.html.

“Stream Filtered Movies and TV Shows Online in HD.” VidAngel, www.vidangel.com/.

4 thoughts on “Let Us Filter

  1. Clarissa

    I really love how you incorporated Pathos into your editorial. It makes it very much alive and tender; I could tell it came right from your heart.

  2. Becky Naughton

    This article really made me think. I agree that this is a useful tool for you and many families like yours. I wonder where does this stop? How much filtering should be allowed? There is a new episode of Black Mirror called ArcAngel and they tackle a little bit of this issue-but much more extremely. Great job and thanks for making me think!

  3. Alison Lewis

    Great article, Joselin. I didn’t know that such a service existed. It indeed is a great way for families who wish to enjoy a movie together to do so and not have to fast forward through uncomfortable scenes or feel offended by certain language. Thanks for sharing this with us all! Very well written.

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