It’s A F***** Disgrace! 5 Of the Worst Movie Edits On TV
You know you’re in trouble when you’re in the hands of the censors. These self-proclaimed guardians of moral decency and standards certainly have an unenviable job to do.
On the one hand, they have an arguably legitimate function as regulators established to protect the public from content which, in the words of the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification), “might raise harm risks”. On the other hand, it is just effectively a board of individuals – people with ideas and thoughts and opinions like all of us – who decide on what is right, proper, decent, and culturally and morally acceptable to the wider general public. In other words, a group of ten or so individuals speak for the rest of the country – but that’s a whole other contentious and heated debate.
What is undebatable, however, is that, when some of the more violent and foul-mouthed movies make the final transition from the multiplex to terrestrial television, the version you see in the comfort of your own home is going to be a trimmed down, expurgated, often wince-inducingly sanitised version of its original incarnation.
Here are a few examples when those censorious scissor-happy TV censors, in their seemingly endless crusade to protect those of a more sensitive disposition, made cuts and edits that make you want to leap off the sofa and shout a few choice expletives of your own.
Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece about the Mob’s infiltration of the Las Vegas casinos uses the “f” word 398 times. Which proved to be something of a headache for some networks who wanted to show it in a more bad language-lite version. At various times, the “f” word is overdubbed with freaking, lousy, fancy, fool, filthy, and its agent noun version with sucker.
Director Paul Verhoeven has always had a penchant for lacing his movies with biting social commentary, but it’s his prevalent use of gratuitous violence, stomach-churning gore, and swearing that usually has the censors reaching for the edit button.
The film was snipped for several scenes after Verhoeven submitted it to the BBFC and before it was deemed fit to be crowned an 18 rating, and when the metallic law enforcer is unleashed on to an unsuspecting public, it’s with the declamatory call of “You’re going to be one bad mothercruncher.” Not quite the same, is it? Here’s the rest.
Everybody loves an action hero and when Bruce Willis exploded on cinema screens in 1988 as cop John McLane, it was inevitable that his altercations with the bad guys who had taken hostages in a Los Angels skyscraper would involve a certain amount of gratuitous violence and language. His now iconic phrase “Yipeeki-yay mother******” has been dubbed over at different times with “Yipeeki-yay, Kemosabe” and “Yipeeki-yay, Mr Falcon”.
The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridge’s classic, inimitable and iconic Dude is the stuff of film lore and legend – drunk, stoned and with a particular proclivity for bowling, he is the epitome of laid back cool. Which is more than can be said for his companion John Goodman who loses it on several occasions, in one scene smashing up a car in a rage and screaming “This is what happens when you f**k a stranger in the a**.” Several TV versions have replaced it with “See what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.” Which makes no sense.Whatsoever.
Brian DePalma’s remake of the 1932 original is about excess in every conceivable area –the story of Cuban exile Tony Montana’s psychopathic and coked-up pursuit of the American Dream and his inevitable fall from grace is full of violence (chainsaw deaths, shootings, bloodshed aplenty) and language.
Whilst the former scenes were trimmed or totally excised, the attempt to tone down the blasphemy was often laughable. To wit: “This town is like a great chicken just waiting to be plucked”, “Why don’t you try sticking your head up your toilet”, “You got a look in your eye like you haven’t been touched in a year”. Just like a real tough guy would say.
So in the name of trying to protect us, the moral guardians who think our delicate sensibilities couldn’t possibly cope with such tsunamis of foul language and violence just end up making themselves look like fools. Even worse, they repeatedly ruin good, and often classic, movies. That in itself can sometimes be more disrespectful and offensive than an entire torrent of verbal vitriol. And it might be fine to tone things down for TV advertising, but sometimes it’s just best to leave things alone.
These are just a few examples of near-sacrilegious editing of movies on TV, but I’m sure you’ve seen examples that are equally as terrible. Can you remember any?
Bio:James Duval is an IT geek who loves his Xbox but hates the way TV versions often ruin some of his favourites movies. He blogs regularly for Space City.
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