I was in Washington last week, making a last ditch attempt to convince the unlistening that film "sanitizing" is bad. Film "sanitizing", where companies from red states edit films made in a blue state to make them less blue -- without the permission of the filmmaker or the studio -- was about to be made legal by Congress, even though it clearly flies in the face of hundreds of years of copyright law. I kept saying, "What if I put out my own edition of The DaVinci Code where I took out all references to the Catholic Church? How many hours would pass before Doubleday had a restraining order against me? If it holds for books it should hold for DVD's."
But like I said, no one was listening. Because last week Washington was embroiled in a different controversy that is essentially the same controversy, only with higher stakes: the threat to change Senate rules regarding filibusters. In both cases you have red state people changing long-standing rules because they want to and because they can, only I must reluctantly admit that in the case of the filibuster lives could actually be at stake, whereas with film sanitizing it's harder to feel sorry for the victims -- like me and Joel Silver and every filmmaker in between. But let's remember -- I want a little sympathy -- that the First Amendment will be a victim as well, since there is no freedom to publish if the right to publish is diluted by those who can change, diminish, or hijack your work with impunity.
But changing filibuster rules is worse. I know that because I saw it in a movie, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," even though his filibuster wasn't even really accurate, but still, let's take in the fact that a movie actually showed us what it's like to be a real American.
Poor ol' "Mr. Smith" is probably being sanitized right now.