SPECIAL NOTE: This entry is coming out a little late, because I’ve been spending most of the day working on that wonderful annual ritual of the tax return. I half considered just devoting this week’s entry to publicly releasing said return to the public. You know, for reasons. It’d be that easy. Then I realized that the particulars of my financials would be more dark comedy than political commentary. I may still do it next week.
As a kid, my favorite time of year wasn’t Christmas or Halloween or my birthday. It was—and for some reason I do think it happened every year—when a local broadcast station would air Robocop (1987). Now, of course, the version of the film that I got to watch and record back then had almost nothing to do with the ultra-violent, ultra-cynical version of the film that Paul Verhoeven intended*. I would have to wait years before I saw the true film, but the edited version was plenty for the time being.
It occurs to me recently that there is an army of movies that I first saw in diluted form. It’s an imprecise art form. While it may not be worthy of celebration, it may bear a little analysis.
Now, the primary way in which movies are modified, of course, is through the revision of dialogue featuring profanity. Having dealt with a bit of re-recording dialogue for video, I can attest that it is an activity that demands exacting precision, but almost always has to be abandoned when “good enough.” Now, when preparing a film for television broadcast, forget both precision, or “good enough.” Forget even making some degree of basic sense. Observe the lowest of the lows in the following video (Note: it isn’t safe for work).
See? The contortion of your run of the mill four-letter words can certainly lend itself to some borderline-insane near-homophones. My personal favorite of these substitutes—and for some reason, it does not appear in the supercut linked above—comes from Fargo (1996). In that film, every “fuck” became some variation on the word “frooz.” I had not before or since heard the word “frooz” used by humans. In fact, a quick Google search confirms that it is by no means an English word, and has likely never been uttered at any point in time in North Dakota or any of the surrounding states. This did not stop the term from becoming a popular expletive in my house growing up.
It goes beyond that, though. Listen again to some of the dialogue snippets in the above clip. Often, the original actors refuse to re-record the dialogue for the television broadcast. I can’t say I blame them—talking about a “monday-to-friday plane” would drive anybody to the brink of madness, but I think even I could do a better Bruce Willis impression than the guy who said “Mr. Falcon.” Mr. Falcon isn’t even the name of a character in Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)!
The bizarre editing choices don’t stop with the dialogue. I recently procured the 2-disc, special blu ray of Halloween II (1981) that included the television version. It touted extra footage, but they really should have highlighted a litany of inexplicable editing choices. The movie is hardly a classic at its best, but with all of the jumbled up scenes, arbitrary cut aways, and inexplicable music cues, it’s barely watchable. The choices don’t even seem to be in the interest of eliminating violence, or even to accommodate commercial breaks. They just wanted to see if they could take an average film and rip it apart. Well, frooz that.
Any movies that stick in your mind from watching them on TV? Let me know in the comments. Maybe next week I’ll release my tax returns. Maybe**.
*For the purest forms of cynicism and violence, I would had to have tuned into the news. To this day, I don’t understand why CNN, MSNBC, or Fox refuse to market their product to kids. Especially now, the weirdness on regular display would transfix the imagination of people of all ages.
**Is it possible I went through an entire blog entry with only one footnote? No, because for some reason I felt the need to comment on it here.