Netflix looks like it’s been on a mission to rewrite a bit of entertainment history, not unlike what Disney has been doing of late by giving its movies some “politically correct cuts.”
YouTuber Justin Proper uploaded a Netflix-edited scene from “Back to the Future 2,” that shows the protagonist, Marty, looking through a copy of Sports Almanac.
Here's the @netflix edit of Back to the Future Part 2.
— Justin Proper 🌈 (@TheJustinProper) May 19, 2020
In the edit, the cover of the magazine – showing a scantily dressed model that is seen in the original version of the movie – is removed along with, as Twitter users have noticed, two lines from Marty.
The way Netflix removed these several seconds that it for some reason deemed unacceptable was not very subtle, as Marty is still shown looking at other pictures in the magazine, also of women in lingerie.
As those responding to the tweet noticed – a sloppy job on the part of the giant, and one whose purpose is difficult to understand.
Some suggested it might be a case of “back to the past” and the way US networks censored content seen as sexual in any way.
Other commenters wondered who owns the movie now, and if Netflix was within its rights to do this – and even if so, if the company adhered to copyright law’s preservation of art clauses and saved a copy of the original.
And crucially, as Justin Proper wondered: who knows how many other films have been given a similar treatment of editing and removal of scenes and dialogue without anybody even noticing.
But another important – though perhaps by now lost cause – that is brought up on Twitter is that of ownership over content. The argument is made that this is only truly possible if a consumer owns a physical copy rather than relying on a digital version provided by a streaming service.
This is the same dilemma faced by gamers, who recognize the convenience of digital copies, but also of the fact that it removes many of their rights as consumers, such as to resell. In the case of movies, even the privilege of watching the version as originally released by a studio is clearly something not to be taken for granted any longer.