As someone with many varied interests, every now and then I come across a story that causes strong conflicts in my own emotions — like this KSL story about PureMedia, a startup founded by members of the LDS church, whose new product is an app that will edit objectionable content from ebooks.
It’s not the first time that entrepreneurs (who happen to be LDS) have developed a technology-based business based around making popular media more LDS-friendly. You might remember Cleanflix, which offered rentals of edited Hollywood films. There’s a fantastic documentary on the business and its competitors where you can see clips from the Cleanflix-approved edit of The Big Lebowski.
So here’s the conflict.
- As an artist, I get a bit riled up whenever people decide they need to change an artist’s work to make it “better.”
- As a techno-utopian, I get excited by technological opportunities for audiences to interact with their media and do more with it.
- As a fan who grew up with George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy, I’m very defensive of an audience’s right to enjoy the media the way they want to enjoy it.
But I think what ultimately wins out in me is the evangelist for democratized media. And that’s the part of me that just does not understand.
First of all, it does not understand the fascination that the customers of these services have with consuming media that they know features content they don’t wish to consume. It seems to me that — all questions of the quality of the writing aside — someone who is disgusted by graphic depictions of sex and/or bondage should probably not be reading the Fifty Shades trilogy, even if they’re reading an expurgated version.
And, second, that part of me does not understand why someone wouldn’t just create their own alternative. In fact, there’s an entire cottage industry dedicated to it with its own professional organizations and everything. And even if there weren’t, we live in a world where services like CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, and so forth make getting to the worldwide market insanely easy, whether you’re a Christian who wants to write mysteries, a Wiccan writing young adult fiction, or someone who routinely mixes up Smithsonian Magazine with Hustler. Given all of that, why do you need a system to alter work that already exists? Why not let the work stand as it is, aware that it may not be something you want to consume?