MOVIES | The company's "Clean Version" debuted last week to much controversy from directors
Hollywood directors are up in arms over Sony's attempts to release edited versions without their consent.
Sony has unveiled a new strategy to release its films and many in the film industry are forking pissed about it. The studio has found itself at the center of controversy for a new plan to offer edited "clean" versions of its films on platforms like iTunes and Fandango Now. The thought behind the idea, simply called Clean Version, seems pretty understandable from the company's perspective, specifically creating versions of these films capable of appealing to more family oriented customers who wouldn't risk exposing younger viewers to mature material, including profanity, violence, and sexual references or content. Included on this initial list of films receiving the clean treatment are Sony's previously released Spider-Man films, the original Ghostbusters films, Easy A, and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Despite the clever idea, the proposed plan has gotten Sony in hot water over their attempt to seemingly bypass the films director's in this strategy .The Directors Guild of America (or DGA) quickly released a statement saying: "Directors have the right to edit their feature films for every non-theatrical platform, plain and simple. Taking a director's edit for one platform, and then releasing it on another — without giving the director the opportunity to edit — violates our Agreement." While edited versions of films already for formats including airplane viewing and on broadcast television, the statement explains Sony cannot simply use these versions for home video release without first getting the director's consent.
Beyond the Guild itself, artists have been vocal against the decision with Judd Apatow (a producer on Talladega Nights and Step Brothers, also featured on Sony's list) tweeting out, "This is absolute bullshit and @sony and @SonyPictures is gonna get hell for FUCKING with our movies.Shove the clean versions up your asses!" While less graphic, Apatow collaborator Seth Rogen shared similar sentiments tweeting, "Holy shit please don't do this to our movies. Thanks."
Michael Buckner- Getty Images
So what does this all mean exactly? Well as Salon writer Gabriel Bell points out, while the move may appear initially to be about censoring artist's work, it's more about a home video market that's moving more towards streaming. With cord cutting becoming more and more normalized, Sony is trying to adjust for an entertainment landscape where families no longer tune in for the existing sanitized TV versions of these movies. Yet, while Sony's intentions may not be strictly rooted in moral arguments, it is vital that artists' work is protected from being altered or manipulated without their consent. Just because the film industry continues to shift in the streaming landscape, directors should not be forced to relinquish the rights they've earned thanks to the efforts of The DGA.
With Sony's Clean Version launching just last week, it will be important to see both whether streaming families actually choose to seek these versions out over movies originally designed for families, as well as whether The DGA will take legal action against Sony. If the latter course of action comes to pass, don't be surprised if the battle over Clean Version gets pretty dirty.
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The Trump-Twitter Industrial Complex continues to fester and mutate.
This week, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a false statement about mail-in ballots.
He wrote that secretaries of state were sending mail-in ballots to every person, when actually states are only sending out ballot applications. For the first time, Twitter jumped in to fact-check Trump's statement, adding a link to a webpage full of information about mail-in ballots.
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Was the Jimmy Fallon Blackface Skit Intentionally Released as a Distraction from the Murder of George Floyd?
Racist police violence is a modern epidemic. So why are we talking about an SNL skit from 2000?
At this point, celebrity apologies are incredibly common. In 2020, it seems like some formerly beloved actor or TV personality is being put through the wringer of public opinion a few times a week.
Most recently, Twitter canceled Jimmy Fallon after an unquestionably racist skit from the 2000 season of SNL resurfaced online. The skit features Fallon impersonating Chris Rock, complete with black face and an offensive imitation of Rock's speech patterns.
Jimmy Fallon Blackface youtu.be
This quickly led to the hashtag #jimmyfallonisoverparty trending on Twitter. While fans seemed split on whether Fallon should be forgiven for the 20-year-old misstep, most everyone agreed that Fallon should apologize regardless. This morning, he did just that in the form of a tweet.
As far as celebrity apologies go, Fallon's is a pretty good one. He doesn't try to sidestep the blame, he doesn't bring up the fact that there were undoubtedly many, many other individuals involved in the creation of the skit, and he doesn't even mention the fact that in 2000, many people still thought it was possible for black face to be done in the spirit of fun, because the deeply racist nature of the act was largely ignored in mainstream (white) media. Of course, we know better now, and it's easy to see that a white person doing an exaggerated imitation of a black person—darkened skin included—can only be a racist, belittling act with a long, dark history of racial oppression. With that in mind, Fallon's only option was to apologize without caveat or reservation. Indeed, it's refreshing to see a celebrity apology that doesn't try to justify or minimize their own misstep. While we can all agree Fallon made a terrible, racist choice 20 years ago, we have to believe that, like all of us, he's grown since then. If cancel culture is to have any efficacy in making the world a better place, it has to leave room for forgiveness and growth. Hopefully, the whole affair will leave Fallon (and those who witnessed it) more racially sensitive.
All of that being said, one has to ask why the clip was brought up now, given that it's been circulated around the Internet before, and the specific YouTube clip that was shared was posted on the site over a year ago. It's also worth noting that the version of the clip that was going around Twitter has a text overlay that reads: "NBC FIRED MEGAN KELLY FOR MENTIONING BLACKFACE. JIMMY FALLON PERFORMED ON NBC IN BLACKFACE."
Megan Kelly, an outspoken conservative, was indeed fired from her job at NBC because she defended the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, saying on her talk show, "Truly, you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween, or a black person who put on whiteface for Halloween," she said. "When I was a kid, that was OK as long as you were dressing up as a character." While Fallon's instance of racial insensitivity was in 2000, Kelly defended blackface in 2019, long after society at large had begun to acknowledge the hurt that blackface and other forms of racial impersonation could cause. This fundamental difference aside, Kelly also has a long history of racial insensitivity that Fallon does not, even once saying, "What is the evidence that what happened to Eric Garner and what happened to Michael Brown has anything to do with race?" in a conversation about the epidemic of racist police officers in America.
Given the text overlay, it's pretty clear that whoever began the #jimmyfallonisoverparty was not necessarily seeking justice for the black community, but was instead trying to imply hypocrisy in the cancellation of Megan Kelly, given that Fallon (who has been outspoken about the flaws of the Trump administration and political pundits like Kelly) is still on the air. One even has to wonder if, given that it's obvious that the #jimmyfallonisoverparty trend was begun by a conservative individual or group, if the trend was meant to be a distraction from the widespread racist police violence that has been emphasized in recent weeks by incidents like the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered in Minneapolis by a white police officer on Monday. It seems oddly coincidental that the clip of Fallon should flood the Internet with controversy the day after Floyd's murder, unfortunately serving to help steer conversation away from Floyd's unjust death.
Indeed, under the unquestionably racist Donald Trump administration, more and more black people are being harassed, attacked, and murdered at the hands of racist white civilians and police officers. But Trump and his supporters don't want you to focus on that–so much so that it doesn't feel impossible that the Fallon skit was intentionally weaponized as a distraction.
In the last few weeks alone we learned that Ahmaud Arbery was murdered senselessly by a white man while simply out for a jog, and we all witnessed the harassment of Christian Cooper, a black man who was threatened by a white woman in Central Park who didn't want to put her dog on a leash. It's clear that racism in America cannot be reduced to insensitive skits from 20 years ago but is instead a current and deadly problem. What Jimmy Fallon did in 2000 was racist, yes; but don't let that distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in 2020, don't let celebrity apologies make you take your eyes of our lawmakers, who aren't doing enough to protect people of color in this country. Don't let the latest "#_____isoverparty" trend distract you from the deadly consequences of racism in our laws, culture, and criminal justice system.
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