The other day, I went out to Best Buy to pick up a copy of Team
America: World Police. I had been anxiously awaiting the DVD
release, and I had seen that there was an uncut version of the
film for sale as well as the version that had been shown in
theaters. Ooh, I thought to myself, I wonder what else could be
in the uncut version that wasn't in the R-rated version. I mean,
it already had gratuitous puppet sex and violence; what else
could there possibly be? And so, I went out and snagged a copy
soon after it went on sale. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived
home, I realized that I had mistakenly grabbed a copy of the
R-rated version instead of the uncut version.
At that point, a thought occurred to me as I searched for a way
to displace the blame from myself for not noticing that the
uncut version has "uncensored and unrated" stamped in big red
letters on the cover: If you liked the version that was shown at
the theaters, why wouldn't you want to get the uncensored
version, especially if they both cost the same amount of money?
Perhaps those people who would spend their hard-earned money on
the R-rated version figure that whatever was put aside for the
uncut version would be too much for them. "Sure, I don't mind
seeing a guy get hit by a bus, but I don't want to see that same
guy get his head squashed by the car that was right behind the
aforementioned bus." That's an argument I can understand: the
viewer is a puss.
But then it occurred to me that these cut down R-rated versions
do have a very specific market. They are for parents who allow
their kids to watch R-rated movies, but draw the line when it
comes to those same movies released with an extra minute or two
of footage. And rightly so, I say. Let's just say,
theoretically, that a movie has 8 stabbings, 3 decapitations,
and 2 instances of the main character saying, "Oh shit!" That's
a goodly amount of violence and obscenity for an R-rated movie
to have. You could even mix it up and have 2 decapitations, 4
people getting hit by cars, 3 execution-style shootings, and 1
exposed breast. Just one. In the uncut and uncensored version of
that same movie, however, you might see 6 impalings, 4
disembowelings, 3 exploding heads, and 1 or 2 instances of
necrophilia, give or take. As you can see, the difference is
dramatic. If I were a hypothetical parent, I wouldn't want my
contrived kids watching this theoretical movie on my imaginary
television (which by the way is over fifty feet tall and powered
by a series of smaller televisions).
But that's just for the individual. What about the people who
put these movies out? Why would a company publish both an
R-rated version and an uncut version of the same movie? A few
months ago, I saw Ichi the Killer in a theater, but was
surprised to learn that the American distributor of the DVD also
sells a less violent, R-rated edition of the film. Apparently,
someone thought that it was ok to show a man getting his hand
chopped off, but it's not ok to show him holding his bloody
stump and wailing like a vegan on Free Ham Day.
(note: expect an in-depth review of this movie by Dr. Boogie
The reason that any company would waste DVDs on the two
different versions of a film should be obvious: profit. Someone
in marketing got it into their head that if you have twice as
many on the market, you can make twice the profit. It's part of
the reason you see so many crappy sequels to decent movies.
Hell, why do you think Uwe Boll gets to keep making movies?
Volume, that's how. It works great with all that crap they sell
at the Dollar General, and it kind of works well with movies,
too. I learned all about it in an economics class I took one
summer. I also learned why it's not technically cheaper to buy a
season pass to Six Flags than it is to just buy regular tickets,
but unfortunately, I can't remember exactly why that is, and
nobody believes my story. But I digress...
Imagine, though, if every R-rated movie also had an uncut and
uncensored version. We'd finally have a chance to see the scene
in Rambo where John Rambo grinds off a bad guy's face with the
front wheel of a motorcycle. You could pick up a copy of
Predator: Uncut and view an extended version of Schwarzenegger's
fight with the Predator in which the Predator accidentally gets
his foot caught in the corpse of Carl Weathers, and has to lug
him around for the rest of the fight. Also, few people realize
this, but the original script for When Harry Met Sally called
for Billy Crystal to always greet Meg Ryan's character by
saying, "hey, you cunt!" If only Rob Reiner had pushed for an
uncut DVD to be released...
A man can dream, can't he? Well anyway, the bottom line is this:
we ought to just release the uncut, uncensored versions of
movies and just forget about R-rated versions. It's a waste of
money, and it's inconvenient for those of us who have always
wondered what it would look like to see a man with his guts
spread out all over the place, but don't have the gumption to go
out and make it happen. Moreover, it's a waste of precious gas
when I have to make two trips because I accidentally picked up
the crummy R-rated version. You hear that Hollywood? When you
release two editions of the same movie, you're letting the
terrorists win, and let me tell you, they are poor winners.
editor's note: Dr. Boogie isn't allowed to
rent R-rated movies unless he's accompanied by an adult.