Trump Criticizes Movie, Video Violence

Content filtering backers were using the latest school shooting as a way to advocate for allowing copyright workarounds to allow for filtering out of violence from movies and other media, and they were getting backup from President Trump.

The Protect Family Rights Coalition (PFRC) released a YouTube video demonstrating how violent content can be scrubbed from Hollywood movies.

“Citizens all over America are offering ideas and demanding action to address the problem of gun violence in schools. One element that must be considered is the impact of violent media on children," said Bill Aho, executive director of PFRC and the former CEO of Google Play filtering service ClearPlay. "The Family Movie Act was made law in 2005 to give parents the ability to automatically skip violent content in movies. Yet, due to a lawsuit (against VidAngel*) launched by Disney, Fox and Warner Bros., it is currently impossible to skip this disturbing scene [referring to the video] on Amazon, Netflix or any other streaming service."

Studios argue that such filtering services are illegally circumventing copy protections to alter and distribute their content, in some cases violating distribution windows.

Related: Appeals Court Won't Lift VidAngel Injunction

But at about the same time the group was promoting the video (opens in new tab), the President was suggesting that the government should include media violence in discussions about addressing school shootings.

In a meeting with state and local officials about school safety, the President talked about the internet and gaming and movies.

"We have to look at the Internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds, and their minds are being formed," he said. "And we have to do something about maybe what they're seeing and how they're seeing it. And also video games. I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people's thoughts. And then you go the further step, and that's the movies. You see these movies, they're so violent. And yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn't involved, but killing is involved, and maybe they have to put a rating system for that."

There are actually already rating systems for video and film, which include violence warnings.

"[T]he fact is that you are having movies come out that are so violent, with the killing and everything else," he continued, "maybe that's another thing we're going to have to discuss. And a lot of people are saying it, you have these movies today where you can go and have a child see the movie, and yet it's so violent and so disgusting. So we may have to talk about that also."

*VidAngel provides family-friendly filtering of content. Previously it did so by buying and editing DVDs then supplying online versions to subscribers, but after the studios sued and a court granted an injunction, it changed the model to filtering streams of content, via an app, from Netflix and Amazon and HBO, that users have already paid to stream. That is, all but content from the four studios that are suing them—Disney, Fox, Time Warner and LucasFilm.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.