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A push in right video direction

The opportunity to see edited movies on airliners needs to be extended to Utah's video stores.

People such as Gregg J. Wright, Utah chapter president of the Videos Software Dealers Association, should be supported in their efforts to bring that to pass.At issue are a large number of R-rated movies that many Utahns won't view or are uneasy viewing because they contain profanity, nudity and violence.

Commercial airlines show toned-down versions of the films, undoubtedly because they have a captive audience and because of the number of children in that audience. A year or two later, commercial television shows many of those same films in another edited version.

Edited versions would be a hit in Utah. Brigham Young University shows edited R-rated movies at its Varsity Theater. The theater typically sells out for popular films. The area manager for Hollywood Video in Orem reports it gets many requests for edited movies.

A showing of an edited version of the R-rated "Jerry Maguire" at Orem High School attracted 450 people - mostly teenagers and parents - last month. Petition drives were also planned at subsequent showings of edited R-rated films. Wright took his case to get edited R-rated videos on store shelves to a national meeting of the Video Software Dealers Association, where it was well-received.

Unfortunately, it isn't up to the video dealers to make the decision. That rests with the filmmakers and studio executives. Filmmakers in particular are not very supportive of the idea.

As Deseret News movie critic Chris Hicks notes regarding filmmakers, "They feel their art has been tampered with when studios sanitize movies without their input - even with as small a change as a single profanity being deleted." Unfortunately, for some movies to be "sanitized" would require hundreds of deletions.

But Wright's plan would cover these objections. Viewers would have a choice. Unedited versions of the movies would remain for people who appreciate such artistic expression. Such choices make good sense in markets where traditional values are appreciated - which includes large segments of virtually every geographic region of the United States.

But what makes sense in Utah and the rest of the nation obviously doesn't in Hollywood. That's a shame and it needs to change.