A movie filtering service with promise

Shock and shame. That’s the mixture I felt in my local drugstore earlier this year. I had just picked up a prescription for a sick child and inadvertently walked down the magazine aisle on my way out. Sadly, we’re all fairly desensitized to what we might see there.

But on that day, the cover of an annual “swimsuit issue” made me sick to my stomach. Literally.

“These are the same people who put a kids’ sports magazine in my nine-year-old’s hands every month,” I thought. (It was a gift subscription from a grandparent.) And this is the same outfit that delivers news to millions of people every day: CNN / Sports Illustrated.

As a parent, you learn quickly that the entertainment and media industries are not on your side. Middle men and women can hardly be trusted either. If they could, my four-year-old daughter wouldn’t have to see spread bikini legs advertising the movie “Sex Tape” on her way in to see “Frozen” at our local theater. How confusing it must be to grow up in this age.

And how exhausting it is to try to protect our little ones from the onslaught. The filtered television versions of movies were a helpful alternative for a while until the commercials became excessive and unpresentable. Often, my family will forego media altogether rather than try to fast forward or mute at just the right time. The MPAA rating system is hardly helpful nowadays.

While solid alternatives like “War Room” (in theaters now) have come onto the scene in recent years, I have long wanted to enjoy the redeeming qualities of modern media without enduring the baggage. Enter Vid Angel, a streaming video service that allows you to pick and choose what you see and hear.

I found this company by simply searching for “TV versions of movies.” The Idaho-based group has a network of “angels” that watch and tag movies for profanity, substance use, sexuality/nudity/modesty and violence/blood/gore.

The angels record a brief description of each item tagged and then present you, the viewer, with the ability to turn on or off categories as a whole, or specific instances in part. The process really makes you feel like you’re back in the driver seat as a viewer and as a parent.

Presently, Vid Angel has more than 400 movies available, as well as a handful of popular TV shows including the record-setting Game of Thrones. The service streams through devices like Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV. There are also apps for viewing on Apple and Android mobile devices.

Vid Angel’s payment system is a little clunky but necessarily so. Under existing copyright laws, no one can alter or filter a movie they don’t legally own.

So, Vid Angel requires you to purchase a movie for $10 – $25, but then you can sell it back within twenty-four hours for $1 – $2 less than the purchase price. The net effect is you have viewed a high definition movie for $2 (standard definition for $1.50). These prices are comparable to other video streaming services in the marketplace.

The company is young and the technology is complicated, but I was thrilled that their product worked more or less as advertised. They “swore” that I’d love it and so far I do.

Follow Kevin Thompson at http://www.kwt.info.

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