A couple of weeks ago I added the Google Adsense ads at the bottom of my main page here. I wanted to see how it worked — maybe, for example, I could fund my retirement with the earnings from the vast number of click-throughs I would earn?
But seriously, it is an interesting service. The Google ‘bots regularly crawl my page [based on data I see when I check the Squarespace “statistics” page for my account] and Google then matches the ads displayed to what the search engine finds. The theory is that it matches the content of the ads with the content of the pages in my blog.
Usually it works. There are a few surprises now and then. One of the first served ads was an out and out scam — one of those “free offers” where you have to buy several hundred dollars of products in order to get the “free” iPod or TV. I complained to Google about that one and received some very polite automated responses the gist of which was “this is a new service and we’re still trying.” A week after I wrote about my skylight repair adventure, I had some plumbing ads show up - that’s cool.
I am still one of the older generation whe remembers when we had onlty three TV networks, so there is still a bit of techno-magic about this whole Web thing. (I am still pleased, for example, that I am able to buy, from a single online web site, both my dog’s flea medicine AND my shaving soap, which I did this morning.)
Most of the Google-served ads have been movie and book related. I haven’t really had to “block” any ads (which is a possibility with this Google service). I’m not really “competing” with anyone with what is basically my exercise in vanity publishing.
But this morning I was disturbed to find that a very troubling and offensive ad has been served from a company calling itself “Clean Films - Hollywood Purified.” This is one of those companies that buys DVD’s then censors them for re-sale or rental. The theory is that they are helping parents to protect their young from seeing unwholesome things.
Now, my personal feelings are that people who use such services are not only spitting in the face of artistic freedom, they are also abdicating their parental responsibilities. But that’s just me — I generally oppose censorship and have tried to take responsibility for what my own kids see and do, most importantly by providing them a moral foundation for making their own judgements about what is good or bad, entertainment-wise.
I checked out the list of films on the “Clean Films” web site. Listed at the top of the list of newly-edited films is Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence which I view as one of the high points of thoughtful modern “big cinema.” What in the world must this film be like in edited form? How for example, is the entire character of Joe the Gigolo handled? What about the entire sequence where Joe is introduced? And what about the violence against the robots in the Flesh Fair — is that whitewashed?
And get this - they also feature Kill Bill movies. Ask yourself, how would you BEGIN to censor these films to tone them down? My opinion is you should not be allowing children to see such things till they are good and ready — and you the parent should be the one making that decision, not some religious, corporate, or governmental watchdog.
If I were the creator of these works, I would be inserting language into contracts and license forbidding unauthorized modifications, but that raises the whole issue of artistic freedom and how to enforce intellectual proprty ownership in a world where money regularly overshadows judgement and morality. For all we know, people like Quentin Tarantino don’t care what you do to their creative labors of love as long as they get paid for every copy, right?
I have added the “Clean Films” site to my list of “blocked sites” on the Google Adsense service. While the number of clickthroughs my pages generate is negligible, I cannot, in good conscience, promote this web site and its censorship practices. Am I being hypocritical by not promoting Clean Films? Or am I “striking a blow” for parental rights and Consitutionally-protected Freedom of Speech? Let me know what you think by commenting below.