When I was in the sixth grade, some of our school library books had words crossed out with black markers—words that teachers thought would harm children who read them. Even Mark Twain received this treatment. To me, it seemed somehow unholy to stain the pages of someone's story in that way, to delete words the author had chosen. Those black bars were an eyesore, and they distracted me from the story.
The teachers thought they were doing me a favor, but they were taking away from my experience of a worthy work of art. Worse, those black bars only threw fuel on my childish curiosity; I was preoccupied with exposing what had been inked out.
Now we have the ClearPlay DVD player, which lets the user edit certain content from films. It's intended to provide concerned viewers—especially parents—with alternate versions of movies that have been made "safe" and "clean." But I believe it'll only make kids more preoccupied with those certain elements of movies that parents are hoping to eliminate. If you cover up part of a painting, you increase the allure of the section you're covering up. So it's best to keep kids from seeing that painting at all, until they're mature enough to deal with it responsibly.
Why should we show children movies that weren't intended for them? There is a lifetime of good family movies available; let families spend time with those rather than settling for sorely compromised versions of movies that were intended for a different audience.
If you start chopping up movies meant for grownups and showing them to children, you'll succeed in shielding them from excessive elements, but you'll also deprive them of the experience of art the way it was meant to be seen.
Ultimately, I think the CleanPlay idea ...1
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