Edited Out


District 9, TriStar Pictures, 2009

From Killing the Buddha:

This version of District 9 was really strange. Scenes were missing. The dialogue was muted out on occasion. Characters vanished from the plot, never to be heard from again. In some cases they vanished into (literal) thin air. I know the gist of what happened in the movie, but not much more.

So why would I be watching this? The short answer is that I was watching an R-rated movie in a Mormon household. It was a standard DVD of District 9, running through a DVD filtering system called ClearPlay. Based in Salt Lake City, ClearPlay provides software that can edit movies from an R rating to something closer to PG. It removes scenes, shots, and snippets of audio deemed unsuitable by ClearPlay’s editors, down to individual frames. Whatever material a viewer finds offensive can be omitted according to the following categories: violence, sex, nudity, vulgarity, bloodshed, and substance abuse.

I suppose this makes sense if you’re looking for a way to patrol what your children watch. But I saw District 9 with three adults. No children were involved. Seeing a film this way was a preference, not a safeguard. In fact, the choppy edits and missing audio didn’t seem to bother them. Overall they agreed that it was a good movie.

The reasons for this preference are tied to several aspects of life in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They are somewhat complex and controversial among members, as Mormons call themselves. They’re also part of why I left the Church and of how the religion continues to confound me.

“Cutting It Out”, Hillary White, Killing the Buddha

District 9, TriStar Pictures, 2009