Nanci and I have been using VidAngel for a few months. It’s been amazing, by our choice in checking off some boxes and not others, to mute blasphemy and the f-word and skip sexually explicit scenes in every movie we watch. (We do permit kissing, though we notice many kissing scenes are suddenly cut short, in light of what else we’ve said we don’t want to watch.)
Ever since Clean Films was sued out of existence some years ago by Hollywood, we have wished we could do what we did back then: watch movies edited as we prefer. Movies on network TV and airplanes are routinely edited, so if the technology exits and others are allowed to use it, why can’t individuals in the privacy of their own homes have the right to say what they do and do not want to watch in a movie? I don’t presume to tell Hollywood directors how to make their movies. But I don’t expect them to tell me how to watch them.
Many passages warn us to protect our minds and hearts from immorality. For instance, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires….You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: … and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:5, 7-8).
There are some movies I would never watch in the first place. But there are others that would be great to watch with just a few minutes of content selectively removed. The VidAngel filtering system essentially serves as an enhanced remote control. If I could program a remote to mute all the words I don’t want to hear, and skip past all the scenes I don’t want to watch, I would. That’s what VidAngel does for me. I (not they) decide what I want muted and skipped past. Then I don’t sit there nervously wondering whether I’m going to be exposing myself to what dishonors Jesus and may be a source of temptation.
I am pro-choice about the vast majority of things in life, with the notable exception of those things which take innocent lives and hurt innocent people. I am certainly pro-choice about being able to select, on my own, what I want to watch and not watch. Just as I am free to skip over parts of novels I don’t want to read, and can fast forward movies using a remote, I think as long as I pay the rental fee and the company providing the movie legally buys what they’re renting to me, I should be able to say no to explicit sex, nudity, and blasphemy if I so choose.
In VidAngel’s case you actually buy the movie and then sell it back when you’re done (for the net cost of $1). This is one reason that grants them their legal right to accommodate streaming movies to their customers that remove what each individual requests they remove.
Last week VidAngel was directed by a federal judge to suspend their rental services. They are appealing this judgment to a higher court. This video, which is very well done and amusing—and in my opinion is a model for how people with moral convictions can take stands in a disarming way—explains the situation from VidAngel’s perspective.
If you want to express your objection to this injunction against VidAngel, here’s something you can sign.
I have to say, I not only love VidAngel’s services, but also really enjoy their explanatory videos, full of common sense and humor, both of which we need a lot more of these days. Check these out: