Why did VidAngel Publish Fifty Shades of Gray, Wolf of Wall Street and Game of Thrones?

UPDATE [9/29/2015]: We’ve just released a new feature that allows you to hide any movie on the VidAngel website. We will soon be extending this feature out to apps. This gives you and me more control over our VidAngel experience.

ORIGINAL: This is a question we’re commonly asked and that we were forced to ask ourselves before we decided to build VidAngel. In the beginning, as we grappled with this issue, we decided not to make VidAngel a moral authority for other people, but to create a community that empowers a broad range of people, cultures, moralities to be able to make better media decisions.

Personally, based on what I’ve heard, these movies seem like pornography with a story line. And the research about pornography and its impact on society is very well documented at Fight the New Drug. I don’t know if these have any story line left after being filtered, but the community seems to think so.

Even though VidAngel can cut out graphic sex, violence and profanity, that does not make a movie worth watching.

Check the tags of these movies and you’ll be able to quickly see if it matches your own personal standards. They absolutely don’t match mine. As a founder of VidAngel, I do not recommend these movies to families, even with a filter.

In fact, personally, I choose not to watch much of the content on VidAngel due to the nature of the movies. I’m kind of simple, but I really like movies that uplift me.

Here’s a reminder about VidAngel’s principles:

VidAngel Stands Against:

Justification To Watch More Bad Content:
If the content of the movie as a whole is against your standards, don’t use VidAngel to justify watching it.

Forced Censorship:
What you watch should be your choice in your home. Your neighbor will likely have different standards than you, and that is okay as long as you and your family don’t have to watch what everyone else watches.

No “Taking One For The Team”:
As a member of the VidAngel community, you agree to only participate in tagging movies/videos you would already watch without filtering. There are always other people who have different standards willing to filter the harder content. The ends don’t justify the means.

VidAngel Stands For:

More Choice:
VidAngel gives families a larger library of good content to choose from without compromising your family standards.

Watching More Good Content:
There are lots of films that have great messages, but often the filmmakers might have a different set of standards than you do. That’s okay. VidAngel allows you to enjoy the parts of their content you agree with, not worrying about breaking your own family rules.

To Summarize:
Members of the VidAngel community decided they wanted to tag these movies. They had already chosen to watch the movies in theaters or on HBO before they choose to tag them.

If a movie is released that no one in our community is willing to watch before tagging, then that movie will never be published on VidAngel. There’s no taking one for the team, period.

But I personally will never let my own family near this content and lots of other content. A lot of people would say I’m over the top. And for many, I am. But because I want the right to choose to watch both what and how I want, I also want to afford that right to others. Others will choose for themselves.

VidAngel is about empowering families and individuals to be able to make better content decisions, even if that means choosing not to watch movies with a filter.

Of course, we’re open to improving our policies based on community feedback.

Best regards,
– Neal Harmon, VidAngel Founder

59 thoughts on “Why did VidAngel Publish Fifty Shades of Gray, Wolf of Wall Street and Game of Thrones?

  1. Honestly, I think this is super cool of you guys. Those aren’t movies I planned on watching, ever. Even with a filter, but I really appreciate what VidAngel stands for. <3

  2. Seriously. VidAngel is incredible, and I’m so glad you guys are so dedicated. You have a lifelong customer from me.

      1. Neil I would also like to thank you for the service, finally I am now able to watch game of thrones. However I understand the owners are Christian and I have noted some movies that are totally demonic in nature and contrary to Christian believe. Below are two examples:

        Annabelle

        John Form (Ward Horton) thinks he’s found the perfect gift for his expectant wife, Mia (Annabelle Wallis) : a vintage doll in a beautiful white dress. However, the couple’s delight doesn’t last long: One terrible night, devil worshippers invade their home and launch a violent attack against the coup… Morele. When the cultists try to summon a demon, they smear a bloody rune on the nursery wall and drip blood on Mia’s doll, thereby turning the former object of beauty into a conduit for ultimate evil.

        The Woman in Black: Angel of Death

        40 years after Eel Marsh House’s first haunting, a group of children and a schoolteacher take refuge at the house, escaping from WWII London. There they will awaken the house’s darkest inhabitant.

        My question is would you also allow for instances say movies like the omen and the exorcist ?

        thanks

        Paul

        1. Movies like “The Exorcist” are based on real life historical events.

          Unfortunately, people experience evil, and viewing a historical fiction of an evil event has value.

  3. Having these types of movies available is no different than having the books available in a library. Your customers have the choice of viewing then. I for one would not watch them, but that is my choice.
    I want to say how much I appreciate what you are doing. I love the cinema and have been so disappointed the last several years with the inappropriate content that has been put into movies. I simply refuse to watch an unfiltered rated R movie. Thank you for providing a way for me to enjoy movies again.
    I am trying to spread the word about you service as much as I can. Keep up the good work.

  4. Thank you, Neal, for taking a stand and for being able to articulate why you have made the choices you have, both professionally and personally. VidAngel is a fantastic service.

  5. my issue is specifically with 50 shades of grey. I feel like this movie crosses some social lines. From a business stand point I can see your policy decisions that people can do what they choose to do. From a personal position I would not choose to have anything to do with that movie on moral grounds. so my question, is it the business that is important? Or providing appropriate content that’s important? I don’t think anybody who supports Vid Angel would have a problem with you supporting not providing this content on moral grounds.

    1. I don’t quite understand what you mean by “block poster” feature. But I want to encourage you to find a way to not have the pictures immediately pop up. Sometimes they are very disturbing, scary or inappropriate. Usually my 5 year old is looking over my shoulder when I get on. I don’t want him to see images from “The Woman in Black”, “Into the Woods”, “John wick” or “Annabelle” for example. But I can’t block the R and PG-13 movies prior to seeing all of the movie titles. Would it be possible to have an option to select movie ratings before the list of movies pop up?

      Thank you for posting this response about “Fifty Shades…” I got my sister to sign up yesterday and she immediately texted me and said, “So I am on here and maybe am a little shocked that 50 Shades of Grey is plastered all over – can you really clean that movie up and if so – would there be any of it left to be seen. I don’t want to see it – just surprised I suppose.

      Of course I forwarded her this email so she could read your response.

      I understand the points you make in your reasoning. But, I also wonder if it doesn’t harm your image as a company offering “clean movies” if the some of the movies have a storyline that is extremely morally objectionable. It seems a bit paradoxical… ???

      My sister signed up because I was begging her to :/ But she might have been turned off by her first impressions otherwise.

      When she pointed out to me that 50 Shades was “all over your website” I too was a little surprised / disturbed based on what I have heard about the movie.

      Not everyone will have the opportunity to read your letter of explanation. Most will be left to form their own conclusions based on their first impressions.

      I suppose down the road you will get a clearer picture of the scope of your audience by the number of views for each movie. Maybe you will get a better idea of where to draw lines based on the feedback of viewer interest and / or objection.

      1. Kirsti,

        Thanks for sharing.

        In answer to your question about blocking posters, that would be a feature where you can click a button to “block” a movie from showing up on your VidAngel account.

        Over time we may be able to create an algorithm that will preemptively block content similar to the content you have blocked in the passed. Sort of like, Amazon’s “people who bought this product also bought…”

        People who blocked this movie also blocked…and then we auto-block that stuff?

        Certainly we could create a setting that shows movies by default based on MPAA rating. You’ve given us some great food for thought. Thank you.

        1. I agree that some additional filtering options would be appropriate for VidAngel. One of my biggest frustrations with Apple’s iTunes is that when I (or my kids) log on to iTunes, we get bombarded with all the offensive album art, and there’s no way that I have found to be able to turn it off. And it doesn’t help that there always seems to be at least one or two albums on the front page of iTunes that I find offensive. You can block downloading of content that Apple has deemed “explicit”, but you can’t do anything about the display of that content prior to purchase.

          I think it would be helpful to allow users to either block posters altogether, or perhaps block posters based on ratings (or maybe both). In other words, allow me to block all posters from R or PG-13 rated movies. For that matter, I also think it would be nice to be able to block movies with specific ratings from even being listed at all. For example, our family’s policy is that we will not watch an R (or higher) rated movie, even with VidAngel. I think it would be great to be able to specify this preference in VidAngel, and not even have those movies show up.

          That having been said, thank you for the great work you’re doing, and for filling a void that was so desperately needed! Our family loves VidAngel!

        2. I would also appreciate this feature. The ability to default to PG-13 and R movie graphics not showing up while looking for content with my children would be great! Perhaps the ability to create separate kids accounts that block out content based on filter criteria and rating. All powerful tools to help protect loved ones until they are old enough to understand their choices. Just an idea to throw into the pool for future revisions. Thanks for the control you have given everyone.

    2. Thanks for the comment Shauna.

      That’s valid feedback and I totally see your point of view.

      Here’s the question that I and all of us at VidAngel grapple with is: Where is the line drawn and who draws it? Who defines appropriate?

      Is it me? Is it you? Is it the consensus of the community? Or do we build tools that let you control your media and me control mine in a manner consistent with our personal values?

      We don’t have this perfect yet because you and I would both prefer not to see even the cover of Fifty Shades of Gray on our version of VidAngel. A customer recently suggested we make a “block poster” feature on VidAngel. That’s sounding like a better and better solution the more I think about it.

      Would that be helpful to you too? I think I would like it.

      1. I prefer the freedom to not be reminded that movies like 50 shades even exist. The tug of the “curiosity factor” (what is left after the filter?, etc) makes me concerned that they have now found another way to try to get into my living room. I would rather block vidangel entirely than risk increasing the curiosity of one of my grandchildren because they saw the title on my computer.

    3. The fact that they provide 50 Shades of Grey helped me make the decision to become a member. I’m not interested in watching the movie only because of the reviews, not because of the nature of the film. Providing it showed me that VidAngel does not have a moral agenda, only a service for screening films for families.

  6. The fact that you specifically try not to be the morality police and allow others their own standards is my tipping point. I haven’t used the service yet, but having read this I can say I definitely will. I’m a grown adult and capable of being exposed to stuff I would never show kids. But even my husband and I have different sensitivities. I have no plans to watch fifty shades, but now I feel confident I can watch things I choose without being policed or censored and the filters are impartial and not based on any one person’s set of standards. Thank you!

  7. I was a bit shocked to get the email saying you have 50 Shades of Gray available. I had been trusting you as a company figuring if you offered a movie, that after the filtering it must be something that your company built on christian principles was willing to distribute. I understand what you are saying about who draws the line, but why would your company be willing to distribute and sell what you yourself do not agree with as a christian? Why would you be willing to help bring this movie into someone’s home (Maybe even with them thinking it is safe with filters) and then sparking something that could make a family fall apart? I see the point about just trying to be a company that offers options to anyone, but with the name vidangel and reading the history of the founders would lead one to believe that this is a christian company that is helping families by filtering the filth. And isn’t God the one who defines appropriate? Don’t we have a good idea from the bible what he thinks is appropriate? Really, we can fool ourselves into thinking otherwise, but I don’t see any reason to distribute this movie to customers. Especially when we may trust your company and believe that maybe the movie may have some good to it since you are offering it. Bottom line, why be responsible for distributing something that can cause such damage regardless of whether the customer wants it or not? Would you sell morning after pills to people who wanted them? I just think that a christian company should stand for something. Maybe change your name to vidfilter or something. This reminds me of the time I rented a movie from a christian rental company thinking of course that movie must be fine since they were a christian company. Set down with the family to watch what we thought was a kids movie and having to be embarrased by pornography on the movie and the ackwardness of rushing to find the remote and ending our movie night right there. Funny, this “christian” company went out of business and stole my 2 yrs membership worth of money!! Go figure! Even plugged in did not review this movie it was so bad. I guess I can figure out what types of people the “vidangel community” is that is tagging this stuff. No wonder 2 out of 3 movies I have seen still have curse words in them even after all the filters are on.

    1. Dawn,

      Thanks for defending the Christian faith and God’s standard and I’m in agreement with you that this movie is in complete contradiction to what the Bible teaches. In addition, I’ll have you know that I so appreciate the folks at PluggedIn and what they do. I use their reviews with almost every movie I watch to see if it matches my standards. I commend them for choosing not to review it as a ministry. There’s other stuff that I cringe that they had to review for me to be able to decide not to watch something.

      I’m glad that we’ve clarified this governing principle on this movie, just to learn from your comments that our name and background has created the wrong idea for some. Your comments make me that much more certain that we need to do a better job of communicating this point:

      Our system is meant as much to help decide NOT TO WATCH A MOVIE as much as it is to decide to watch a movie. For Christians, we hope that VidAngel serves as a voice of warning and a voice of good news (hence the warning tag).

      Again, thanks for your feedback Dawn. You’ve given us so much to weigh in how we do this moving forward.

      1. I feel that making “Fifty Shades of Grey” available without the sex is just throwing the temptation to see it right in the face of Christians or moral people who had previously been convicted against watching it. There are so many bible verses about taking heed not to cause your brother to stumble. I think it was a bad move for your company, no matter how much you may justify it. I personally won’t be supporting you from here on out unless you start making decisions that actually look like they reflect what I’d expect from a company called “VidAngel”.

        1. Don’t shop at Costco, Sams Club, Amazon, Wal*Mart and so on, as they all have supported 50 shades by selling the book as well as the movie.
          I appreciate Vid Angel for providing a way to watch movies in my home. It’s my choice to choose which movie I want to view. That said, I have ZERO interest in watching 50 Shades of Grey, even if I can cut out the graphic scenes.

      2. I LOVE vidangel. I agree with Suki. We want to watch the movies out there but don’t want all the crap that comes with it. Thank you for making it possible to watch any movie and filter it to our personal desires. I’ve seen two movies on here in the past 3 days.. And I plan on always using this site from now on. Thank you!

    2. As for the tagging community, there are hundreds who have tagged movies. They make mistakes. A tagger, a reviewer and a publisher all go over the tags before it comes to our internal staging team, who watch the movie all the way through once with every tag set to filter. That team ensures that the movies don’t get published with swearing.

      We teach the “no taking one to the team” policy to all community taggers and to our internal staging team. I’m surprised Fifty Shades made it through that process personally, but it did.

      The reason that you’ve had a problem with early movies are because we didn’t get this staging team set up until just over a month ago. So there are many movies that were published during the early part of our private beta that never got properly reviewed. We’re going back over those movies as quickly as we have resources.

  8. I completely agree with Suki. Even though I want nothing to do with 50 Shades, in a way I am glad to see it here. One of my biggest hesitations with investing in my movie selection here was that I wouldn’t be able to get most of the movies I would want to rent/buy. Because the service will mostly appeal to the more conservative movie viewer, it’s easy to assume that most of the selection here will be limited.

    This definitely proves otherwise. I feel much more confident that VidAngel is in it for the long haul, and will be able to attract a larger customer base. Also, I even feel more comfwith recommending this awesome site to my less conservative friends that would normally avoid something so… Clean.

    1. Hi Lindsey, we’re definitely in this for the long haul.

      One day, after we become a more broad distributor of content, we even hope to introduce entirely new content as an alternative to what Netflix and HBO and Hollywood have been producing.

      Having a large enough audience to justify producing unique content, will give VidAngel an even greater chance to have its own positive influence on the world.

      We hope that VidAngel empowers people in their media choices from all walks of life for a long, long time.

  9. As a long time clearplay customer who enjoys the choice of being able to watch movies without being subject to standards that conflict with my own, I’m just very happy people/companies like you exist.
    So there’s a 50 shades of grey or a Game of Thrones option. I don’t have to watch them, nor do I choose to.
    I hope we don’t get too caught up in some of the details and remember the fact that having you around is better than having no one.
    Let’s praise the good that you are bringing to us! Thanks for standing up and providing this service. I look forward to watching your excellent ideas grow.

  10. I agree with what Myneka said about VidAngel being like a library that allows everyone to choose rather than filtering content for them. I work in a library and often have to see books with titles or cover pictures that are offensive to me. However, I respect that the library, which is run by a church, isn’t making itself the authority on what is appropriate. To me that would be against God’s plan. God absolutely wants us to make good choices–which requires being able to make a choice! I don’t think that he wants us to become mindless in our decision-making by allowing any other person or company to make the decision for us. He wants us to use our minds, remember what He has taught us through scriptures, and make the choice based off of principles we know to be true. On the other hand, I definitely like the idea of a “block poster” button, as well as an option to see movies by ratings. I also think it could be good to have bigger warning signs on movies like 50 Shades–perhaps customer ratings to show that the majority of the VidAngel community and even one of its founders do not recommend the movie even if it is filtered. I think it is our responsibility to do our research in deciding what media should be allowed into our lives, and we should allow others to take on that responsibility for themselves as well. I really appreciate the “no taking one for the team” policy, which supports the idea of choice.

  11. I really like what you’re trying to do, and the service you’re providing. I’m a little on the fence about whether it makes sense to even have something like 50 shades in the library at all, but I do have a stronger opinion about how it’s advertised.

    Like someone above said, it’s “plastered all over the site” and the weekly emails, which gives the impression that you’re trying hard to get people to watch it. At that point it seems less like a neutral library that will let you check out/rent anything you want, and more like a business that is trying to make money off current trends, even if you strongly don’t agree with them.

    It’s one thing to have a movie in the library, and make it searchable, and another to actively promote to everyone, especially when many of those people have young children looking over their shoulders as they look at an email message.

  12. I think VidAngel is INCREDIBLE – I recommend it to family and friends all of the time. I agree with your position to not attempt to judge which shows are allowed on Vidangel and which are not. The line becomes too tricky. Let each individual judge for herself/himself. Keep up the awesome work!

  13. Neal,

    I think that the “block poster” option is a great idea. I would appreciate having the ability to block certain movie posters from showing up on the homepage of my vidangel account (as would my wife).

    One other question I’ve had with some movies- and this may be resolved already- why is it that when some movies have foreign language that’s spoken, that there are no subtitles? Is that due to the difficulty of also filtering subtitled profanity? (Thor: The Dark world, for example, has Malekith and the other dark elves speaking in their native tongue during the film and there were no subtitles provided). I also provided feedback for the filtering of “The King’s Speech” as well. Did you guys receive that feedback?

    Thanks!

    1. Truman,

      I believe we did receive that feedback. We've  had that problem with a few of our movies, particularly on Android and Apple TV, but we are working hard to get it fixed. Thank you so much for working with us through this!

      source:va_support_update_bot

  14. I agree with your initial statement and policy. It’s sad to see that you have gotten so much bad feedback for this. I personally love vidangel because it is similar to kids in mind. You tag all the content and leave it up to the viewer to decide what content they want. I think the block movies could help with some of the complaints but once you start going down the morality line then things are just going to get complicated.

  15. I was referred to this post by your staff after sharing my opinion that Magic Mike XXL shouldn’t have been added to your library. I have read the post and all comments. There are many good points on both sides, and I’m not sure what the right answer is. Right or wrong, I’ll share my opinion, and do what I feel is right.

    Since it has been said that no line will be drawn, I wonder when we’ll see more graphic movies in the library? How soon until our email inboxes are encouraging us to watch “Zach & Miri Make a Porno”? When will we see options for X-rated films where “The Community” has decided have worthy story lines?

    I believe those who watch filtered versions of certain films are fooling themselves, as you can’t escape the overall negative feeling which accompanies them. I don’t see the difference in filtered vs unfiltered with some, and I don’t believe God does either. God doesn’t have “50 Shades of Grey”.

    I love the VidAngel service, because, as touched upon by Neal, it provides a way to see a good message without some of the unnecessary content a director includes. I do, however, think VidAngel should use their position to take a stand against movies whose overall pre-filtered tone degrades, rather than inspires.

    1. Jake, thanks for taking time to share your thoughts. I personally am taking a stand on this and I want a better way to take a stand without imposing my values on others for the entire system. Like I said in my post, there are a ton of movies I won’t watch on VidAngel. I think the majority of the community would not be happy with my personal judgments.

      We are working on a way for the community to be able to take a position on a movie that honors VidAngel’s principles. Then you and I can take a stand on what we find degrading and warn others.

      How do we determine which pre-filtered story-line is degrading verses inspiring? If you don’t mind Jake, we’ll send you a mockup of what we’re thinking and you can give us feedback.

      1. I have already started promoting this site to all of my co-workers. You have a great selection of videos which will and has drawn many people.

        Just be careful to stand by your philosophy No “Taking One For The Team. There are over 1,500 titles to promote/list prominently, why must you or I be “Taking One For The Team” by having these movies plastered all over, if they are “surprising” that they made it through the gauntlet. Marketing gives power, choose where you focus that power.

        If your companies goal is to promote the watching of more good content… then you shouldn’t feel torn about promoting more good content.

        There are limited spots to advertise new releases and the various genera. Why not promote the wholsome, and allow others to choose from the other 1,500?

        You shouldn’t limit what others are able to watch, nor should you be “Taking One For The Team” by having your company actively advertise something that would make you cringe instead of something that you would feel is making the world a better place?

        It all comes down to good, better, best.

        1. Over time, as we get bigger, we’ll come up with even better tools to solve this problem for you, for others, and for me. Thanks for your thoughtful feedback.

  16. I like many of the comments on here. VidAngel is headed in a great direction. Good work, guys.

    Thank you especially for the policy note about no taking one for the team. I’ve thought about this a lot and it was a reservation of mine going back to other, previous ventures in this ‘clean’ media space. I really like the VidAngel approach and solution, and haven’t been a paying customer in this market before. We usually let teenagers watch some PG-13 movies, but I want to start using VidAngel more often since cutting down on the language would be nice.

    Sidebar: It seems like many PG movies would go from ‘ok’ with me to excellent with even as little as 60 seconds of editing. Many other parents are likely in the same boat, and I wish Hollywood would get that message. Hopefully someday there will be a standard and Hollywood will shop things tagged themselves – no real reason a studio shouldn’t do it themselves. After all, they provide radio/tv/etc edits on their own.

    1. Looks like I screwed up and posted my comment twice. Sorry. Hopefully you can remove the duplicate.


      source:va_support_update_bot

  17. I just want to start out by saying that I am so happy to find your site! My fiance and I love watching movies. We don’t have children, but were having conversation the other day about how we feel uncomfortable with sexual content/over use of offensive language/ect. in movies. I’m a grown adult, definitely not a baby, but I still don’t want to watch this content just because it’s the hot, new, cool-special-effects, awesome story, totally amazing movie out right now. So…. it’s annoying that we have to pass on otherwise good movie/TV show plots.

    Thank you for NOT filtering out “offensive/immoral” movies like those said above!!! We found VidAngel on google and loved the business model! Sometimes the “questionable content” adds nothing to the story line and it’s like… why even put it in there? We look forward to doing business with you guys for a long time 🙂

    – John & Kaitlyn

  18. As an early adopter and one of the first to use Vid Angel on the Roku Beta Channel, let me first say I love the service VidAngel provides. It is in an incredible resource for family entertainment. However, I like some others in this forum, was very disappointed when I started receiving promotional emails and movie artwork on my VidAngel Roku channel for “50 Shades of Gray.”
    VidAngel is not like a public library which is owned by the community and paid for by taxpayers. The library must serve and cater to the wants and needs of the entire community with no partiality. VidAngel is a private company that is in competition with Redbox, VUDU, Google Play, etc. . You have complete control over the titles you choose to list in your “store.”
    In this forum you wrote:
    Members of the VidAngel community decided they wanted to tag these movies. They had already chosen to watch the movies in theaters or on HBO before they choose to tag them. If a movie is released that no one in our community is willing to watch before tagging, then that movie will never be published on VidAngel. There’s no taking one for the team, period.
    My question: Just because someone in the VidAngel community decides to tag a movie, why are you obligated to publish it on the VidAngel site?
    You wrote: But I personally will never let my own family near this content and lots of other content. A lot of people would say I’m over the top. And for many, I am. But because I want the right to choose to watch both what and how I want, I also want to afford that right to others. Others will choose for themselves.
    My question: Do you let your family view the movies being offered on your site. Do you have to explain to them why you don’t think it’s appropriate, but for some people it’s o.k. and that’s the reason why you are offering it on VidAngel?
    You wrote: Here’s the question that I and all of us at VidAngel grapple with is: Where is the line drawn and who draws it? Who defines appropriate? Is it me? Is it you? Is it the consensus of the community? Or do we build tools that let you control your media and me control mine in a manner consistent with our personal values?
    My question: Who at VidAngel says, “The buck stops here”? Who says, this is what we believe as a company and this will define the catalog of movies we offer? Clearly somebody has to. You as a company have to come up with a set of criteria that films featured on your site have to meet. If they don’t you shouldn’t offer the film. You have a community of taggers with a very diverse set of values. Clearly if a tagger thinks “Magic Mike” and “50 Shades of Gray” does not bother their conscience, then you have a problem. You have a community that can tag movies for your purposes but has no real unified consensus or worldview that guides the choices of the films you offer. You will end up offering anything because you will always find a tagger that is not bothered by the film. Now all you are is a movie site with a filter option. If you are only in this business to make money, then that’s no big deal. If you are truly trying to help families (“We built VidAngel, first for us and our families (we have 14 kids and 1 bun in the oven between the 4 brothers), but we also feel a tool like this will make the world a better place.”) then you will fail in your goal. You will offer films that have no business being offered in the first place. (Maybe one of the taggers will decided to code “Brokeback Mountain” or “American Beauty.”)
    You wrote: Our system is meant as much to help decide NOT TO WATCH A MOVIE as much as it is to decide to watch a movie. For Christians, we hope that VidAngel serves as a voice of warning and a voice of good news (hence the warning tag).
    My question: Really? You are saying “Let me expose you to something you really shouldn’t be viewing so you know it’s bad and you shouldn’t watch it.” You’re supposed to be helping me and my family. With that logic, if you were the video rental store, and you put “50 Shades” and “Magic Mike” on the shelf right next to “Big Hero 6” and “Ted,” you would be doing me a service? There are just some films that shouldn’t be there in the first place because even if you take out every conceivable objectionable criteria you tag, it’s not a film worthy of being offered by VidAngel. So, does listing the movie “50 Shades of Gray” and giving the public the chance to view an edited version of it fulfilling that goal of making the world a better place? I would argue “no” because there’s nothing in the movie or the book that is worth saving. No matter how you cut a rotten piece of food, it’s still rotten. Some things just cannot be redeemed or salvaged.
    You wrote: We teach the “no taking one to the team” policy to all community taggers and to our internal staging team. I’m surprised Fifty Shades made it through that process personally, but it did.
    My question: Who at VidAngel thought the film should even be considered for the catalog? Why didn’t someone just say, that film is clearly not in line with our principles and objectives for this company? Marital infidelity and porn use are off the charts among church going men (Ashley Madison’s records are helping reinforce that fact). Films like “50 Shades “and “Magic Mike, “Ex Machina” and other movies that celebrate sexual immorality and feed into our porn driven pop culture are hurting us.
    I understand the dilemma you face as you choose movies for the VidAngel catalog. I have a master’s degree in communications and teach media production in high school. I know there is not a one size fits all formula. But if “Angel” is in your company name and you use a halo in your logo, and you tell families you are here to help them with your tool and movie selections, then please show more discretion in your movie offerings and how you present and market them.

    1. sent this reply in a personal email:  
      Mark,

      We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to send us such a well, thought-out opinion of our movie choices.  We fully understand where you are coming from, and we never anticipated that 50 Shades of Gray would have caused such a polarizing division in our customers.   We know there are many choices available and that many of the societal problems you expressed can be related to the entertainment we seek.   We have been grappling with the very same ideas that you pose in your inquiry to us.   Because of this, we have been working on a rating system that we are hoping to launch with our new website.  It will allow our amazing customers to give their personal feedback on the inspirational qualities of a movie.   We haven't quite worked out the details of how it's going to work yet, but we know ratings already exist for content or age range, but none of them rate the "feel" of a movie.   Does it make you feel uplifted, or do you wish you could get back those 2 hours?   Some type of inspiration, or uplifting, or Halo meter to give guidance when choosing your next movie.  We think something like this will give our customers a better idea of if they would like to bring the movie into their home.   If you have any ideas for a good way to 'meter' this type of thing, we are all ears. We've been working on it for a while, and will launch it with our new website design – but we don't have the fine details ready yet, so we are totally open to feedback.  

       
      Thanks again for being such a loyal customer.  We sure appreciate you, and we really appreciate you taking the time to express your concerns.  Please know, that they are being heard.  


      source:va_support_update_bot

      1. Halo meter would be a great way to determine what you advertise/give prime real estate. The others should need to be saught after in another list for films that have lost their wings, or maybe another where they have earned their horns. Each purchase earns a vote. They can’t be voted off the island, just off of prime time.

        1. We implemented the Inspiring meter for this very purpose. It helps you sort content based on how inspiring other users find the content.

    2. It seems that the biggest issue is the promotion of questionable content.
      Where you place emphasis is where people will focus.
      Just because something is bad for someone, does not mean it must protect them from themselves. However the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act seeks to limit the number of damaged individuals by controlling the advertisement of tobacco.
      Offensive material like tobacco should be located behind the “counter” for those who are seeking it to know where to find it/ask for it.

  19. It’s honorable to not want to impose your beliefs on others, but promoting something that is offensive to you and others is not right either. Not every movie that is currently offered by your service is on the main splash screen.
    Just because pornography is not illegal in the name of the freedom of speech, does not compel stores to display it prominently, or the hallmark channel to run promotional ads for it. Failing to advertise something is not removing someone’s ability to choose whether or not they will partake in it.

    Allow items to be voted off of entry splash screens, allow users to choose where it is displayed. If your main clientele decide that something should not be prominently displayed, but rather must be searched for through an image free list, you should allow those who are paying to decide.

    1. This is excellent feedback. We have implemented an X in the upper right of every poster on our website. If you click this, you can hide the movie from being shown on your VidAngel account. We’re working on implementing this feature throughout all the apps.

      Keep the feedback coming.

      1. Neal,

        I don’t think that is what Michael is saying. Yes, it’s a step in the right direction, but definitely not what everyone on this thread seems to be asking for.

        When VidAngel sends a weekly email to your customer base, or when a user logs into their VidAngel account, why have an image of any rated R movie visible? Why not *start with* titles that are safer to begin with?

        It would seem so easy to include G, PG, and even most PG-13 titles with images that are far less controversial to begin with. In other words, I think most parents would be OK clicking on one of your emails or logging in and seeing a title image / poster of an action movie than a more sexually-themed film. I think this is common sense.

        How about this: if you need a few movie graphics in your emails, or you want to present some movie posters of some recent movies that did well in the theatres, yet you also want to announce new titles available that are of a more questionable nature, then use G/PG/PG-13 for images and simple text for the titles of R-rated films?

        If that sounds too conservative, then at least don’t put up images/posters of movies that have obvious sexual or violent covers. The movie filters are still available, but if someone really wants to watch 50 Shades of Grey, they’ll need to search for it or click on a text-only link.

        If you don’t do something like this, then parents like me will have to be careful when opening emails from you, when logging in to your website, or selecting your app on Roku or similar devices in order to ensure that our kids are not around to see something we may not want them to see.

        I hope this makes sense and clarifies what most in this thread are asking for.

  20. Thank you so much for this site! I have always loved watching movies, but hated when unnecessary scenes, jokes, etc. were added in. Thank you for giving us the power to watch what we want, how we want!!

  21. I think your advertisements are so clever! Just wanted to say that ;o)

    They’ve certainly gotten my attention…in a very positive way. I hope you succeed in this business. I think your principles are sound–and you have been very kind and professional in your response to the feedback on this forum.

  22. As a filmmaker, I like to study the craft. As a Christian, I don’t want to be poisoned by Hollywood ideals. There are many great movies with one or two gratuitous scenes. I’m thankful that VidAngel allows me customize my movie experience to my convictions, while giving me the chance to study critically acclaimed films.

  23. Something I deeply appreciate is that a lot of quality, thought-provoking, and valuable stories from other nations with different cultural perspectives on content than Americans unfairly gets excluded from many homes.

    For example, in Germany, violence has the role sex and nudity does in American films, especially in terms of strong ratings and seeking to protect children from it.

    A movie like The Lives of Others, about the pervasiveness and sheer nightmare of what the Stasi did to East Germans in the Cold War, is incredibly valuable to watch especially for families and thoughtful teens in a society faced with technology and surveillance. However, many families will be put off by the fact (1) a juvenile but “elite” reviewer called it an erotic thriller – and that’s on the box, along with the couple in bed, but calling it that is BADLY missing the point and (2) there’s several scenes with actual nudity. But it has complex moral situations and has many extremely powerful and positive moral actions and messages of hope and meaning.

    However, it diverges dramatically from how an American telling would go in that there’s virtually no violence save one tough scene, and in fact the extensive violence the wickedly-effective Stasi employed is implied in a way analogous to how many Hays Code era movies implied licit and illicit sexual situations. In fact, even the nudity and sexual situations are not gratuitous (as Hollywood rather likes to do) but either highlight shame and emptiness, violated intimacy, and guilt after psychological torment. Nonetheless, it’s not a film I feel comfortable showing to family or friends without warning.

    Furthermore, as an attorney, I deeply appreciate the commitment this service appears to have towards following both the letter and the spirit of the law. I commend y’all and plan to use this service.

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