Episode 10 - What the [Wow]? | Movie Filtering and Censorship

Clint & Jey are cleaning up their act to study TVGuardian, CleanFlicks, ClearPlay, Plugged In, and more! That's right. We're talking Christian and Mormon movie filtering and media censorship. It's going to be one [heck] of a time!



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Jey: It's true. I went on a date with a therapist yesterday, but she kept asking me questions.

Clint: Did they sound like therapy questions?

Jey: Yes. You know, are you close with your parents? Like, how many siblings do you have? Normal ass questions are traumatic for me.

Clint: Yeah so maybe you're just projecting onto this person.

Jey: Absolutely I am.

Clint: Because in my experience, you know, my partner is a therapist, and I know other therapists by extension, and none of them want to talk about therapy or deal with anybody else's problems outside of work, because that's what they do all day.

Jey: I just got worried because, like, when someone says they're a therapist, I'm like, Oh shit, they're going to figure out that I have a bunch of problems, even though I'm very open about it.

Clint: I don't think you need to be a therapist to figure out that you've got a bunch of problems.

Intro Music

Clint: Hello, everyone, and welcome to How Gay Thou Art, a comedy podcast about growing up queer, Christian and hella confused. My name is Clint Keller, he/him.

Jey: I'm Jey Austen, they/them. Today we're talking about Christian movie filtering. So any time you say fuck, it's going to be translated as “wow” on-screen.

Clint: To this day, any time I read the word wow, I think, “fuck,” it's an association I will never get over.

Jey: What we're talking about here is mainly them going through and editing the films, editing the captions, stuff like that, in some cases in violation of copyright law.

Clint: Yeah, we’re gonna be covering TVGuardian, CleanFlix, ClearPlay, PluggedIn, and a handful of lesser known movie censorship services as well. So TVG - TVGuardian - is the OG. It is a self-described “foul language filter.” It was invented by Rick Bray back in 1998. And it wasn't specifically religiously affiliated but conservative religious people were certainly the target market. The idea behind it is rather simple and actually kind of genius. So the TVG is a little set-top box that goes between your TV and your media device. The video signal has to pass through the device so you would connect your VCR to the TVG then connect the TVG to your TV. The TVG would then read the captions track of whatever you’re watching and any time it recognized a curse word, it would instantly mute the TV and bring up captions with the word either removed or replaced.

Jey: Does it cover their mouth and stuff too?

Clint: Oh no, no, no. It is painfully apparent what they're saying. It literally just mutes the sound and alters the captions. And while it worked surprisingly well, it's not a perfect system. I was watching a movie when I was a kid and they referenced Dick Van Dyke, but TVG kept translating his name to Jerk Van Gay because it registered Dick and Dyke as trigger words. This system worked with any analog source that had captions though - cable, satellite, VHS, DVD. It doesn’t do well with live TV though because the captions are too delayed. And while TVG is still available, its usefulness has declined significantly. Captions on streaming media work differently so TVG is completely incompatible with any streaming service.

Jey: What do we know about Rick Bray?

Clint: Not much at all. He seems like a normal guy who liked to tinker around with electronics and just had a really clever idea.

Jey: This was back when, like, a lot of Christians got into programming, huh?

Clint: Yes but I don’t even know Bray’s religious affiliation. As far as I know, he’s just an inventor. He sold about 400,000 of these bad boys but it was later a built-in feature on about 12 million DVD players. And like I said, these are still available. Their flagship model - the 501 HD - is $239.

Jey: That's so expensive. So you didn't get one?

Clint: For the show? I did not. But we did have both the original TVG and a couple of the DVD players when I was a kid. There is a cheaper one - the LT model - that just costs $89.99 but it doesn’t bring up captions with the word replaced. It just mutes the sound. Dish Network also partnered with them for a while and offered a TVGuardian app for satellite boxes.

Jey: Oh, wow.

Clint: The fan base for this thing was rabid. In 2009, there was a campaign by TVG fans to have the FCC make it a law that TV Guardian had to come installed on all video playback devices.

Jey: I understand the want for that. But also that's really a Moral Majority thing right there.

Clint: I mean, look, if you don't want to hear curse words and you want a fun little device to make that happen for you, more power to you.

Jey: But they just want it to be free.

Clint: Exactly. They just don’t want to pay $239 for it.

Jey: I get the logic. I'm not going to blame them. There are airplane editions. I feel like everything should have a radio edit.

Clint: What? No, absolutely not.

Jey: For children.

Clint: Why do children need to watch a movie made for adults? If they're not mature enough to watch the film as it was created by the filmmaker, then they just should not watch it at all.

Jey: I feel that.

Clint: I just don't know what universe it's going to be okay for a seven year old to watch Scarface if we just mute the bad words. What about you? Did you family TVG?

Jey: My family did not TVG. I had several friends who did TVG, but my parents were divorced and my mom would let me watch, she wouldn't even let me watch certain shows on Disney Channel. Like I wasn't allowed to watch That’s So Raven because she was psychic.

Clint: But doesn't your mom believe in literal magic?

Jey: Yes, but it's different. That's prophetic words.

Clint: That's so prophetic.

Jey: I would just watch whatever I wasn't allowed to watch with my mom, with my dad, cause my dad wasn't religious. He didn't care.

Clint: My family was similar. They weren’t divorced at the time but dad would let me watch way more than mom would. Mom was pretty strict on everything except violence. But the TVG opened up a lot of possibilities. As much as I find it ridiculous now, I wouldn’t have seen half the movies I saw growing up without it.

Jey: Where does the filtered out stuff go? I wonder if I could just watch like a five minute montage of just the stuff that.

Clint: What do you mean, “where does it go?” It's not like it lives somewhere.

Jey: No, it does. It could just be like a two minute short.

Clint: I think you’re looking ahead to services that actually edited movies, which we’re about to talk about, but the TVG just mutes the sound and keeps on truckin’. It doesn’t actually alter the movie.

Jey: Okay, so TVG is just muting the sound, not cutting out all them titties.

Clint: Right. Visually, the film is unchanged. But what’s really comical about TVG is the words it uses to replace bad language. Jerk Van Gay was a great example. So we’re going to play a little game where I give you a curse word and you have to guess the word TVG replaces it with.

Jey: Okay, okay. I'm just going to say the words that I used to say till I was 21.

Clint: That will probably be a very effective method.

Jey: I literally didn't say cuss words until I met you, Clint.

Clint: You're welcome. OK, we'll start with an easy one - “ass.”

Jey: Is “butt” too bad?

Clint: It will actually filter out “butt” on the most strict setting.

Jey: Really? Okay, so… I don't know. Behind?

Clint: Tail.

Jey: Tail?

Clint: Yeah. Like “kiss my tail.”

Jey: Kiss my tail.

Clint: Next up - “bitch.”

Jey: Can you use it in a sentence?

Clint: “All you do is bitch at me!”

Jey: Oh, God.

Clint: It's kind of an old timey word.

Jey: Oh, okay. So they change it to… I have absolutely no idea.

Clint: “Nag.”

Jey: Oh, I should have guessed. Okay. Go, Go.

Clint: Of course, TVG also filters out sexual words and phrases. So what do you think it uses for “blowjob” and “gangbang?” It's the same word for both of them.

Jey: Okay, so blowjob and gangbang are probably filled with “fun time.”

Clint: “Kiss.”

Jey: Just kiss?

Clint: Yeah.

Jey: A gangbang is now a kiss.

Clint: I have a hard time imagining in what context you could be watching a movie where they say gang bang but its otherwise family friendly. If they're talking about gang bangs, I feel like there's going to be some other adult content in there you're not going to want the kids to see.

Jey: You can't just casually replace the gang bang.

Clint: “Bullshit.” I'm not calling bullshit. It’s the next question. What replaces “bullshit?” This one makes sense. Think of something a kid would say.

Jey: Oh, baloney.

Clint: Right! Baloney!

Jey: Well, I got one.

Clint: This is one of the weirder ones. So any sort of slang word related to a woman's body is all translated to the same word. Words like “vagina,” “clit,” “jugs,” “poontang,” “tits,” “twat.” - all of them get translated to the same word.

Jey: Is it “bird?”

Clint: Bird? I’ve literally never heard that before. No, it’s “form.”

Jey: What? Oh, like the female form?

Clint: Yeah, like the female form. There’s a similar thing on the male side. “Cock,” “penis,” “pecker,” and “prick” are all translated as the same word. This one is more of an insult, like “you’re such a prick.”

Jey: But even pecker’s too bad. I don't know, “wiener?”

Clint: No, it's “jerk.”

Jey: Oh, no. But like, jerking off.

Clint: That does feel like the implication. And it makes sense replacing “prick” with “jerk,” but I don’t know the use-case for replacing “penis” with “jerk.”

Jey: Well, your jerk has an abnormality on it.

Clint: It's weird, right?

Jey: It is a little weird.

Clint: “Cunt” is also translated to “jerk.”

Jey: I guess, because it's like, you fucking jerk. Yeah.

Clint: Well, you “wow jerk.”

Jey: Oh. Oh, right. Is there context? Is it wowing?

Clint: Sometimes it would just take the word out entirely if it was an unimportant adjective. So like, “give me that fucking cup” would just become “give me that cup,” because that still makes sense without fucking. But if somebody stubbed their toe and they said, “oh fuck,” it would change it to say, “oh wow!”

Jey: Wow, I really have to think about this in the context of like, this is a brain space I have not gotten into in a long time. Okay, hit me with the next one. I'm fucking gonna get one.

Clint: Okay, well, the next one was “fuck” which is translated to “wow.” But “fucked” - past tense - is translated to a different word. Think of it like “we fucked up.”

Jey: Like, oh, we fucked up. “Messed up?”

Clint: “Ripped.” Like, “we got ripped over.”

Jey: I don't like it. I don't like it. Just let me have my fuck.

Clint: Okay. This one is similar to “jugs” becoming “form.” “Hard-on” and “woody” are translated to what? Pro-tip, do not watch Toy Story with TVG.

Jey: “Stiffy boy?”

Clint: No.

Jey: “Hard-on” and “woody.” Uhhhh, “rock?”.

Clint: “Notion.” Like, “you’re really giving me a notion right now.”

Jey: Mm. Yeah.

Clint: What about “horny?”

Jey: They wouldn't even say “aroused,” would they?

Clint: No but it's along those lines.

Jey: “Turned on?”

Clint: Try again.

Jey: I have no idea.

Clint: “Excited.”

Jey: “I'm so excited right now.”

Clint: Gross. Perfect segue into this one though - “sex,” “nookie,” and “nooner?”

Jey: Nooner?!?

Clint: “Let’s go for a nooner.”

Jey: I'm assuming that they only think that people watch movies from the 1950s. Could you imagine an Apocalypse Now version of, like, TV Guardian?

Clint: The first time I watched Apocalypse Now was through TV Guardian, so yes.

Jey: Really?

Clint: Absolutely.

Jey: Well, it wasn't like?

Clint: Quiet.

Jey: Oh.

Clint: Very quiet. So “sex,” “nookie,” and “nooner.”

Jey: Oh, like “sex,” “nookie,” and “nooner,” I think it’s going to be “hug.”

Clint: Yes! “Hugs.”

Jey: Really?

Clint: “Do you want to have hugs with me?”

Jey: Got it.

Clint: Alright, what about “piss?”

Jey: Piss, “yellow shower?”

Clint: Well the context would be that you’re upset about something. Like, you’re pissed.

Jey: Oh, like “ticked?”

Clint: “Tee.” Like, “that really tees me off.”

Jey: Oh, “I'm really teed off.”

Clint: “Shit?”

Jey: Let's see. When I started saying “crap,” my mom got annoyed.

Clint: Yeah, it's a little more sanitized than that, but close - it’s “crud.” Not “crap.” That's too far I guess.

Jey: “Crap” is a swear word. I don't know what you're talking about.

Clint: What about “slut” and “whore?”

Jey: Oh, man. A “slut” and a “whore.” “Floozy?”

Clint: Close. It starts with those first two letters.

Jey: Flirt.

Clint: Got it! Okay, last one. I mean, there are more but this is the last one we're doing. “Lesbian,” “queer,” “homosexual, “fag,” and “dike” are all translated into the same word. What is it?

Jey: Gay.

Clint: Yep.

Jey: The word is literally gay?

Clint: Any word related to queerness is always just translated to gay.

Jey: Because they don't want people to know there's other types.

Clint: It’s as if they just don't want to go into any detail. It might be contextually important to know that a character is gay, but we don't need to discuss any of the specific terms. When I was a kid, I thought “lesbian” was a slur because TVG would mute it out. It wasn't something that you were supposed to say.

Jey: Yeah, well, you would whisper it like, “Oh my God, I think she's a lesbian.”

Clint: That's true. That's true.

Jey: Can we go through this episode and every time that we say a cuss word, replace it with the TVG word?

Clint: I think that's a great idea. So from here on out, no cursing, just the TVG replacement words. And if you screw up, you have to take a shot or something.

Jey: Okay, got it.

Clint: One last thing I wanted to say about this before we move on to some of these other companies is that the guy who made the TVG also made another little gadget, which is even funnier somehow. It's called “TV B Gone,” and it was a little tiny remote control that would go on your keychain and it's universal to any TV. Just point it at a TV and it will cycle through all of the TV remote codes until the TV turns off.

Jey: Wow.

Clint: And so it was marketed to people who didn't want their kids exposed to whatever was on the TV in public spaces like airports or hospitals or whatever.

Jey: Could you just imagine, though, walking around with the power to turn any TV off you could just fuck with - so you could just wow with people?

Clint: I had one actually.

Jey: Why did you get rid of it?

Clint: Well it just quit working eventually. The TV B Bone would just turn TVs off, but I had one that had more options. You could change the volume, you could change the channel. I would go around changing the channel to the weirdest stuff I could find.

Jey: What would you put on?

Clint: Well it depended on what they had access to.

Jey: Put on Girls Gone Wild in the waiting room. You can control the TV now. You can buy the Pay-Per-View. You're not paying for it.

Clint: People in hospital waiting rooms deserve premium entertainment more than anyone if you ask me.


Jey: Like, what are the other services that we have? So, like, TVG doesn't seem that bad. Not doing too much.

Clint: Right but there are companies that go much, much further. We watched a great documentary about these companies called CleanFlix. I highly recommend it. It all starts with a Mormon man named Ray Lines in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was a video editor and he started editing R-rated movies for his friends because Mormons, by decree from their prophet, are not allowed to watch R-rated movies. So Ray would take these movies and edit out all the bad language, all of the sex scenes. He said he cut all of the excessive violence too, but that was not quite as important to them. Ray’s services eventually began coming into such high demand that he turned it into a chain of video rental stores called CleanFlicks, which became very successful. He opened dozens of stores all across Utah.

Jey: It's wild to me that this came from Utah because this feels like something you would find in the Bible Belt. But they literally can't watch R-rated movies. And for Christians, it's more like, oh, you shouldn't, but we can watch Passion of the Christ.

Clint: There have been a lot of surveys about this through the years, and time after time, they show that the viewing habits of evangelical Christians and nonreligious people are practically the same. Evangelicals are watching all the same shit that everybody else is watching. That's not true for the Mormon community, though. By and large, they're not watching R-rated movies. I think there just wasn't as much of a demand for it amongst evangelicals but a lot of evangelicals did end up using these services because the movies were also available to purchase online.

Jey: I feel like it's a control tactic that like, oh, don't mess up. If you watch a movie, you're a sinner.

Clint: So here’s how Ray’s business worked - he would buy a DVD, rip it, edit it, burn it onto a new disc, then rent or sell it. As you can probably guess, this is 100% illegal. He justified it by allegedly keeping a 1:1 policy, so he bought an original copy of the film for every filtered copy he made, but that ended up not actually being true. A lot of the stores were buying one copy of the movie then burning dozens of filtered versions. But even if they did keep to the 1:1, it’s still illegal. They’re still unauthorized, bastardized, bootleg copies. That doesn’t fall under fair use by any definition.

Jey: It was inspired by the original film, but it's a new film because they cut out 2 minutes of titty.

Clint: In the end, federal courts shut CleanFlicks and its competitors down around 2006. There were a lot of copy-cat stores by then. However, Daniel Thompson kept running an independent filtered video rental store for years after the federal ban but he was eventually jailed for sexual misconduct with a minor. Big surprise.

Jey: Watching that in the documentary, it was like you're telling me that one of the biggest retailers, franchise owners of the CleanFlicks thing is over here getting a blowjob from a 15 year old girl? It's just so gross. And then him denying it. There were several people in the documentary that talked about how extreme violence didn't bother them, but they couldn't bear to see a nipple. And I just don't understand why the human body is much more offensive than like murder and slaughter and killing people.

Clint: This is probably a little too romanticized, but I think they are comfortable with the destruction of life but not the creation of life.

Jey: Absolutely. But I think it's biblical. You know, like a lot of violences in the Bible.

Clint: There's a lot of sex in the Bible, too. That's the thing. There's a shit ton of sex. A crud ton of sex, a crud ton of hugs in the Bible.

Jey: There's a crud ton of hugs in the Bible.

Clint: In the documentary, they use Fargo as an example of the pass violence got. They left that scene at the end where the guy is shoving the body through a woodchipper in the movie, but they cut out a reference to circumcision. They’re more offended by the very mention of someone being circumcised than they are a body being fed through a wowing woodchipper.

Jey: It's very weird. It's very masculine. This emphasis on violence being okay. But don't show me a nipple and cause me to sin.

Clint: Absolutely. It's very patriarchal. Traditionally manly movies with action and violence are totally fine, but movies that have historically been considered women’s films, or “weepies” if you want to get really old-school Hollywood sexist, are more subject to conservative censorship. We can have blood and gore but not hugs and nudity. I found one quote from this dude named Greg Wright, he’s president of Sound Vision. And he said, “With language and nudity, that's not fake nudity. That's not fake language. Those are real things.”

Jey: But sex can be real in a movie?

Clint: Well, I think he's saying the nudity is not fake. You’re seeing a real nipple or whatever. But I really don’t understand this distinction. None of it is actually real. They’re just images on a screen. But with modern technology, it all appears very real. The violence looks just as real as it would if you saw it happen in person. It feels like they’re drawing the line at the production. No one is actually being murdered, but someone is actually getting naked. But that has no bearing on the final product. I don’t understand how anyone could think that seeing hugs on-screen will have a profound effect on the audience but seeing graphic violence won’t.

Jey: You know, getting naked, that could cause you to sin. And I don't think viewing violence causes people to sin. You know, you're not killing someone in your heart. You're just watching someone be killed.

Clint: You think people don’t fantasize about murder? People are just as likely to want to murder their neighbor as want to bang their neighbor. Just watch Investigation Discovery. There was another company in Utah called Movie Mask. They were a knock-off of CleanFlicks but they took it to the next level. Instead of removing content, they would digitally alter scenes to make them less offensive. For example, they added a corset onto Rose in Titanic to cover the nudity.

Jey: How bad was it? Was it like people sticking an emoji over their dick and stuff?

Clint: It was not that bad. Today, I think it's noticeably fake, but for the time it looked pretty good. They did some really weird stuff though. Like they replaced the swords in The Princess Bride with lightsabers. I really don't know how that's better or different.

Jey: I'm so confused. It's still a saber. Like, it’s in the name.

Clint: Yeah, if you have a problem with sword fighting, why are you watching The Princess Bride?

Jey: I also think like Princess Bride, it's kind of a key point that Inigo is a swordsman. They talk about that in the script. It's part of it. It's his whole backstory. Spent time training. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

Clint: I don't understand the necessity of editing anything out of The Princess Bride.

Jey: I mean…

Clint: It is a family film.

Jey: That is very true. I believe that my sister told her husband that she would have another kid only if they dress like Princess Bride for October.

Clint: Halloween, or the whole month of October?

Jey: Halloween. And now they have five kids. So I think it worked.

Clint: Next up, we have ClearPlay, which is the best version of movie filtering in my opinion. It was originally released as a DVD player and it worked like this. If you wanted to filter a movie, you would get a filter profile from ClearPlay. The DVD players came with 100 filter profiles pre-installed but continually released profiles for popular movies as they were released. Obviously, the major downside here is that you can only filter movies that ClearPlay makes a profile for, but it worked really well. It also gave a level of control that hadn’t been seen before. Users could choose exactly what they wanted to filter - hugs, violence, specific words, anything. It didn’t perform super well at first because it was a bit of a technological hassle. You would have to go to the ClearPlay website, download the profiles (which were $1.50 each) to a USB stick, transfer it to the DVD player. It was a whole thing.

Jey: That's dumb. So you have to rent a movie and then buy the filter file.

Clint: Yep. I imagine most people never bought a filter beyond the 100 that came installed on the device. But ClearPlay has now adapted to the streaming world. They have a Google Chrome plug-in that works with any streaming service. And it’s subscription based so you have access to all of the profiles all of the time.

Jey: So you just have to have it on Chromecast.

Clint: Exactly. You can stream any movie or show they build a profile for and you still have all of the content options as well. You can set it to skip hugs scenes, mute curse words, etc. Another important thing to note is unlike companies like CleanFlicks that edited and resold movies, ClearPlay is totally legal because it doesn’t copy or alter the original content in any way.

Jey: So TVG and ClearPlay are legal. Have they been sued and like it's been fine or something?

Clint: They have been sued multiple times by many studios, but they've been vindicated every time. And in fact, ClearPlay was the main party that got the Family Movie Act passed in 2005. This bill passed unanimously in Congress, and it is an exemption of liability that allows for technology that can edit media during playback. That's the key here. You can't edit a movie and then sell that edited movie, but you can sell a device that makes your DVD player or web browser skip past the parts you don’t want to see.

Jey: I want to know why you can't edit the movie and then sell the movie because isn't that just like taking clothes that you bought and then drawing on them and then reselling them? Yes, someone designed it originally, but-

Clint: Well in your example, you’re taking something that exists and adding to it to create something new. CleanFlicks was taking something that exists, censoring it, then reselling it under the same name. That’s the difference. I want to mention one more company before we move on because they basically took all of the most illegal parts of all of these businesses and put them together. It’s called VidAngel. It’s still around in a lesser form. It was invented by Neal Harman and endorsed by none other than Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. It was similar to CleanFlicks but a streaming version. So they would buy a DVD, rip it, edit it, then stream it to customers remotely. To legally justify this, customers would pay $20 for a movie, then sell it back to VidAngel for $19, effectively creating a $1 rental.

Jey: Was this illegal?

Clint: Absolutely. They were streaming content that does not belong to them for profit. They also used a very weird marketing tactic that was funny but could also lead to a really dark place. They offered a version of Star Wars Episode One with Jar Jar Binks completely removed.

Jey: Just because he's annoying as fuck?

Clint: Exactly. But it brings up this idea of editing types of people out of movies. They could remove gay people or Black people or Muslim people. It’s a dangerous path when you start removing characters entirely. And that alters the foundations of a movie more than any of the other services ever dared to.

Jey:  VidAngel sounds like the name of a porn company.

Clint: There was also Cougar Video in the documentary.

Jey: Cougar Video over here selling sanitized films.

Clint: How is that not a porn store? I mean, come on.

Jey: It's just like chick.com. And you go there and it's just Christian comic books telling you you're going to hell. It's like every time a new service online opens up, like a social media, and you get there so that you can get your username as your name. And they just did that with all the porn names.

Clint: It was very smart on their part.

Jey: Oh my God. So when I was in the cult and it started getting busted for being a cult and there was an Instagram account like about it, and it was like, “dear [church name],” my friend said that he got a notification that they made an account that said “[church name] is a cult.” And that they were making all of these accounts so that no one else could.

Clint: Maybe we should do that with this podcast.


Clint: So we jumped right into filtering devices and services, but we also need to talk about who's going to tell you whether or not you should watch a movie to begin with.

Jey: And we kind of touched on it in the teen magazine episode. A big one here is Focus on the Family’s Plugged In.

Clint: These sons of bitches kept me from watching so many movies growing up.

Jey: So Plugged In is the same company that did reviews in other Focus on the Family magazines, and they didn't like anything.

Clint: The thing about Plugged In reviews is that they aren’t actually film reviews. There's almost no discussion of the production value or artistic merits of media. It’s literally a checklist of how many f-bombs and how much nudity. They do music, movies, TV, video games, books, and they even do YouTube channels now, which I thought was kind of interesting.

Jey: I hate that. That means that they're probably really into like the Christian YouTube couples that just don't have sex probably.

Clint: I'm sure they love that crud. My mom absolutely loved this website and checked it before we watched any movie. Eventually I just started checking it myself before even asking because like, I could tell if it was going to be allowed or not.

Jey: My mom didn't read plugged in or anything, but I did because I wanted to be moral and good. My friend from church burned me a CD that is actually a CD I have in my car right now.

Clint: What year was this?

Jey: It's 2009, baby!

Clint: My God.

Jey: And it has the Black Parade on it. But I think the first few songs are like by Good Charlotte and Lindsay Lohan to, like, throw you off track that it's like about to be, you know, “teenagers scare the living shit out of me.”

Clint: I think you mean crud!

Jey: No, I mean, to be specific, because this was a “clean” version of The Black Parade. And even though it was a clean version, it's still said “shit” in “Teenagers.” The only thing that it bleeped out was there's a hidden track and on the song “Blood,” the hidden track, it goes “because I'm such an awful fuck” and it's like a really, really long word of fuck. But in the clean version, it's just a big, long bleep that feels like a minute long when you're listening to it.

Clint: Honestly, I think that's better.

Jey: It really was. It just made me laugh every time. And that was like the only thing on the whole album that made it better. And I never listened to music that had cuss words in it. And I would like, delete songs if they had sexual themes. So I was like, fully in this mindset growing up, I will say.

Clint: I definitely was not. I watched anything I could get away with for sure.

Jey: I think I would just watch more stuff that had sexual content in it, but I didn't watch that much violent stuff.

Clint: My family didn’t give a crud about violence, dude. Once we got the TVG, we were watching the Saw movies, we were watching Saving Private Ryan. There was no limit to the violence we could consume as long as we didn't hear the F-word or see a nipple. I have a few of the short reviews Plugged In posted for some recent movies here. The Fablemans, which is Steven Spielberg's new, semi-autobiographical film - The Fablemans, offers a compelling story of a boy's passion for filmmaking, but it also doesn't splice its content issues. Don't Worry, Darling - pay no attention to the title. This erotic, horrific thriller gives us plenty to worry about. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies has problems, problems, problems.

Jey: Honestly, the person that wrote that was, like, very excited like that. That one's a good one.

Clint: This one I really liked. They reviewed Bros, the gay rom com from Billy Eichner - you probably don't need a review of Bros to know whether it's your cup of tea, but here's one anyway.

Jey: Hold on, hold on. They have Hocus Pocus 2 - this sequel's spooky PG silliness might seem innocuous to some, but its unholy mischief cloaks, occult imagery and ideas. This reminds me of a news clip that went viral this past Halloween because a woman was talking about nhe new Hocus Pocus. And it was on the local news. And she was just like, “well, because these witches, they're going to cast curses on you and it'll come through your TV and in your living room. I don't want that witchcraft in my house.” And when I looked up the local news station, it was in a small town right outside of Waco. And I was like, of course it is. Of course it was.

Clint: They reviewed Love, Simon, which if you remember, this movie from a couple of years ago.

Jey: Not really.

Clint: It’s a gay high school romance thing.

Jey: Oh okay.

Clint: I have a few lines from their review here. This one just really pissed me off. It starts off - So. Love, Simon is a tricky film to review, given that the very premise of the movie flies into problematic territory.

Jey: I don't like this. I feel like it's the same thing with the CleanFlicks documentary where they didn't even include an edited version of Brokeback Mountain because of the thematic elements. And he's like, “Well, I don't want to speak on it on the record.” They don't want to talk about how much they hate homosexuality. They just are like, “Oh, it's tricky to talk about.” It's like, yeah, it's tricky because you're homophobic as fuck and don't want to go on the record being homophobic. Focus on the Family has deleted so many of their pages that reference homosexuality but you can find them on the Wayback Machine.

Clint: Well, they've not deleted all of them because at the end of the Love, Simon review, they've got links to all of their homosexuality articles like “How to Talk to Your Kids about Homosexuality,” but also in the article it says, “Simon's inherent likability cuts both ways. After all, the more you like a flick, the more it will potentially influence you and Love, Simon aims to influence. Lots of mainstream critics are hailing the way it normalizes teen homosexuality. And even though I might appreciate on some level the film's authenticity, that very quality also makes the movie's quiet advocacy for homosexuality that much more problematic for families trying to raise their kids by truths rooted in scripture.”

Jey: Like no, like, absolutely not. If your kid’s gay, your kid's gay, and you need to talk to them about that, because if they're going to have feelings or whatever, you need to be a parent that can address that, but not in this hateful way.

Clint: And in the movie, Simon's parents are definitely taken aback when they learn that he's gay. But in the end, they're very supportive and affirming but at the end of their review, he says, “I didn't love Love, Simon. The language was harsh, the sexuality was pervasive, and the parents? Well, the parents could have perhaps used some guidance from Focus on the Family.” Like, he actively disliked the fact that Simon’s parents didn’t treat him like crud after he came out.

Jey: This is the thing. Focus on the Family has turned an entire generation of parents against their children. Now they're releasing more books, talking about when your kids won't talk to you or when you can't talk to your kids when your family's broken. And it's like, y'all were the ones creating all the think pieces that led to all these families breaking.

Clint: If Simon's parents behaved in the way that Focus on the Family has advocated the parents of gay kids behave, it would have been a movie about teen suicide instead of a warm coming of age romance story.


Clint: How about we do a TVG censored reading of a scene from Pulp Fiction?

Jey: What do they do? Take out the coke and foot massages?

Clint: Well, this is the foot massage scene. That's what we're going to read.

Jey: Uh huh.

Clint: This is near the beginning of the film where Jules and Vincent are walking down the hallway, so we are going to read it with no curse words. And I think this is also really good because it shows just how useless TVG can be in movies that are actually adult themed. Like, sure, you could watch The Avengers on TVG and it's going to cut out the hells and the damns, but it doesn't really make it doesn't make enough changes to Pulp Fiction to make it family friendly. So I'm going to grab another drink and then we will do this.


Clint: Still, I have to say, you play with matches, you get burned.

Jey: What do you mean?

Clint: You don't be given Marsellus Wallace's new bride a foot massage.

Jey: You don't think he overreacted?

Clint: Antoine probably didn't expect Marsellus to react the way he did, but he had to expect a reaction.

Jey: It was a foot massage. A foot massage is nothing. I give my mother a foot massage.

Clint: It's laying hands on Marsellus Wallace’s new wife in a familiar way. Is it as bad as eating her out? No, but you're in the same [wow[ ballpark.

Jey: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop right there. Eating a [nag] out and giving a [nah] a foot massage ain't even the same [wow] thing.

Clint: Not the same thing, the same ballpark.

Jey: Ain't no ballpark either. Look, maybe your method of massage differs from mine, but touching his lady's feet and sticking your tongue in her holiest of holies? These ain't the same ballpark. Ain't the same league. Ain't even the same [wow[ sport.

Clint: Have you ever given a foot massage?

Jey: Don't be telling me about foot massages. I'm the foot [wow] master.

Clint: Given a lot of them?

Jey: [Crud] yeah, I got my technique down, man. I don't tickle or nothing.

Clint: Have you ever given a guy a foot massage?

Jey: [Wow] you.

Clint: How many?

Jey: [Wow] you.

Clint: Would you give me a foot massage? I'm kind of tired, man.

Jey: You better back off. I'm getting [teed]. This is the door. What time is it?

Clint: 7:22 in the morning.

Jey: It ain't quite time. Let's hang back. Look, just because I wouldn't give no man a foot massage, don't make it right for Marcellus to throw Antoine off a building into a glass [jerk] house [wow] up the way he talks. That ain't right, man.[Jerk{ do that to me, he better paralyze my [tail] because I'd kill a [jerk.]

Clint: I'm not saying he was right, but you're saying a foot massage don't mean nothing, and I'm saying it does. I've given a million ladies a million foot massages, and they all meant something. We act like they don't, but they do. That's what's so [wow] cool about them. This sensual thing’s going on that nobody's talking about, but you know it and she knows it. [Wow] Marcellus knew it, and Antoine should have known [wow] better. That's his well, wife, man. He ain't going to have a sense of humor about that [crud.]

Jey: Wow. So I can't act.

Clint: I guess all those theater kids you used to run around with didn’t rub off on you, huh?


Clint: All right, let's wrap up. Let's be done. This is the shortest recording we've ever done, and I'm not going to [wow] that up now.

Jey: I'm so proud of us. Okay, Final thoughts.

Clint: We mentioned that a lot of these companies were founded by Mormons, but it’s worth keeping in mind that they were very, very popular among the evangelical community as well. I knew a lot of people, including myself, who used TVG and ClearPlay or ordered filtered movies through the mail. And the motivation behind this all comes from the trite, famous phrase - “in the world, but not of the world.”

Jey: Oh, God, I remember that. It means that you live here, but you remember that you're an eternal being and you know that your prize isn't here. So don't build up your riches here. You know, you've got to make sure that your mind is pure.

Clint: But there is a core conflict here because they want to be morally, spiritually distinct from the secular culture that they seek to evangelize but they also want to participate in everything that that world has to offer. I think it's all baloney frankly because they are not willing to take it to the point where they have to actually give anything up. They're not going to say, “well, we're just not watching movies or just not going to listen to music. We're not going to participate in anything of secular media.” They want secular media to conform to their worldview and what they're comfortable with.

Jey: Yeah, they're still purchasing the movies. They're still giving their money to Hollywood, who they say they hate. They're still doing stuff so that they can maintain cultural relevance. I feel like when they were building the hell houses, they had to have one person who was a missionary that watched all the secular media because a lot of them didn't or they only watched movies that were from like, I know a couple that would only watch stuff from the fifties. And that was all that was on all the time.

Clint: Well it’s interesting you bring up older movies because this is not new. Christian censorship of movies has been a thing since the very beginning of filmmaking. Protestants largely started the motion picture industry in America. But Jewish immigrants later became very successful in it. So Protestants and Catholics teamed up and started spearheading movie reform in the early 20th century because they thought the Jewish immigrants who were producing these movies were unfamiliar with the Christian values that needed to be promoted in films.

Jey: Yeah, because their way of life has to be everyone's way of life.

Clint: They eventually pressured the film industry into censoring itself in the form of the Motion Picture Production Code, otherwise known as the Hays Code. It's all very Catholic if you read the code, but they tried to keep that influence on the down low.. The code was very strict - no profanity, no nudity, even in silhouette, but also more specific things like you couldn't portray white slavery, you couldn't portray interracial relationships, you couldn't portray anything that ridiculed the clergy. You couldn't have any inference of sexual perversion. Of course, any portrayal of homosexuality was included under this clause. And this was not the law of the land, but for all intents and purposes, it was the law of the land. When it came to making movies in America, if you didn't follow the Hays Code, you couldn't get distribution. All because the Protestants and the Catholics were uptight about the content of movies and also a bit anti-Semitic. And this code stayed around until 1968 when it was finally replaced with the MPAA rating system that we have today. Here's what's fucked up though.

Jey: Tell me.

Clint: As I was researching this episode, I found so many instances from the Mormon editors to people Plugged In to people who worked on TVG, who lamented that the Hays Code ever went away. They want it back. They wish it never left. This is a code under which you couldn't even portray interracial relationships or gay people at all.

Jey: I mean, back in the day, like even married couples, they were sleeping in separate twin beds.

Clint: Like the Jerk Van Gay show. They were in separate beds.

Jey: Jerk Van Gay.

Clint: Luckily, Christians don't have any real power over the production of films anymore. Now they're just illegally changing the movies after the fact. I think the big issue with the Christian filtering/censorship situation is just a fundamental misunderstanding and aversion to art itself. They just don't understand it. This may be a bit of extrapolation, but I really believe this mentality has driven conservative evangelicals to a point where they are untethered from reality. It’s what drives them to the cruelty and dehumanization and objectification that they participate in today. It's very easy to demonize the trans community when you don't know any trans people, when you don't see them as real humans who suffer every day. Ignoring Jesus's commands to help the poor and the sick and the marginalized and refugees becomes very simple when you bury your head in the sand and never let yourself be exposed to that world. They want all of that taken out of their lives and the media they consume. They want this sanitized viewpoint because everything that they interact with has to reinforce the worldview that they already hold. They don't want to be challenged by their families, by the books they read, the movies they watch, the news that they consume. They don't want anything to challenge what they already believe. And I really think that to a less important extent, this is part of that mentality.

Jey: Living in a bubble does you no favors. You expect everything to go right and then when one thing goes wrong, it's like a huge challenge to your faith, to your life, because you're supposed to have this simple, happy, mediocre life.

Clint: In the documentary, they had an edited version of Schindler's List which I found particularly egregious. A censored cut of the Schindler's List is not any better than a textbook that sanitizes the horrors of the Holocaust. You don't get to experience the fun entertainment side of art without accepting the challenges that come along with it. That defeats the entire point of the art.

Jey: It's like Disney adults or something, like you expect the world to be the way it is at Disney, where everything is like manicured lawns that are perfect. That's set design, baby. That shit's not real. You need to learn the real world, but you don't want to see the dark side of it.

Clint: Philip Gordon is a professor of communications at Utah Valley University. He was commenting on the whole CleanFlicks movement and he said, “The idea is that the simple appearance of morality, however arbitrary, insincere and inauthentic it may be, is somehow better than the complex morality of the always septic real.” And I think that really sums it all up. Well Jey, I think we're done here.

Jey: I think we are. Thank you so much for listening. If you have any experiences with CleanFlicks and want to share them.

Clint: If we have any listeners in Utah who've been living there for a good amount of time, I'm sure that you've come across these stores. They were all over the place. Please tell us about it. How was the experience? Did you accidentally go in there thinking it was a regular video store but you walked out with a censored version of Schindler's List?

Jey: Did you go to Cougar videos thinking that it might be an adult video store?

Clint: You can find us on social media at How Gay Thou Art. We have a website, howgaythouart.com. There is merch on there. Please buy it.

Jey: We got hoodies, we got bucket hats. We got all kinds of totes.

Clint: Yeah. Stickers. Daddy hats. Rep How Gay Thou Art out in the world. We have a Patreon that you can subscribe to. Give us a monthly payment.

Jey: We will occasionally drop content for you that's going to be extra. One time we talked about the long dick of the law with Texas and Alabama dildo bans.

Clint: And we have two more that are going to be coming out very soon about Chick Tracts and Brio. We'll be back in two weeks with a brand new episode about contemporary Christian music.

Jey: Absolutely. I can’t wait. I did so much Super Chick art growing up.

Clint: I saw Reliant K in concert. I think that was the only one that I ever actually saw live. But I have been putting together a playlist of songs I want to revisit in preparation for this episode so I'm going to be playing that on my Google home for the foreseeable future.

Jey: We can put together a playlist for the episode that people can listen along with us, but also we're only going to put good music on it. I'm not going to put Casting Crowns like I promise you.

Clint: Thank you so much for listening, everyone. We will see you soon.

Jey: Catch you later, dudes.

Outro Music

Jey: TVG, TVGuardian.

Clint: They should have had a theme song. I think their sales would have been way higher if they had a little jingle.