Saturday, July 11, 2020
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Virginia Getting Weirdly Censored Version of “Iron Man 2”

This may be the weirdest blog post I've ever written. I ordered Iron Man 2 last night on Cox On Demand. The film's villain, played by Mickey Rourke, is Russian. But every time any character uses the words "Russia" or "Russian," the audio has been edited in reverse, as shown in this YouTube clip. Apparently customers of both Cox & Comcast are reporting the same thing.

Why is this happening? After extensive Googling, I still don't know. The only reference to similar editing comes from a post on Shanghaiist in May reporting identical censorship in China. It's strange because Rourke's character isn't political or ideological & no scenes or dialogue appear to have been changed - just the words "Russia" or "Russian."

Speculation on internet message boards is that somehow Cox & Comcast acquired the censored version & are now selling it without having watched it (and continuing to sell it despite customer complaints). I spoke to a Cox customer service representative this morning who was unaware of the problem & refused my request for a refund. (Update 10/12: Cox called me back today to offer a refund.)

Are Virginia customers being sold a version of Iron Man 2 that has apparently been censored by (or censored by the producers at the request of) the Chinese government? Absolutely bizarre.

UPDATE: @ComcastCares tweets, "We have just been made aware of this yesterday and are working on it."

“Net Neutrality” On The Ropes

UPDATE: Amy Schatz on 5 May in The Wall Street Journal says
"Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski has decided to reregulate Internet lines to protect net neutrality, siding with consumer groups and Internet companies worried that Internet providers have too much power."

According to what I made of an article by Cecilia Kang in the 3 May Washington Post, we are probably on the verge of losing "net neutrality." (i.e., uncensored use of the Internet, everybody pays the same).  She reports that Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, according to sources, has indicated he wants to keep broadband services deregulated. This is no doubt because of the April decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which said the FCC "exceeded its authority" when it sanctioned Comcast, and to which the Chairman is about to respond.  The ruling brought into question the Commission's ability even to force Internet service providers to treat all services on the Web equally. It looks as though Genachowski will announce that "reclassifying" broadband to allow for more regulation would be "overly burdensome on carriers and would deter investment," and would undoubtedly lead to extended lawsuits every time he attempted to institute a broadband policy. Art Brodsky, spokesman for Public Knowlege, a media public interest group, said:

The telephone and cable companies will object to any path the chairman takes. He might as well take the one that best protects consumers and is most legally sound.

Symbol of Elitist Snobbery Named New Tea Party Spokesman

I swear I am not making this up.

On a day when E.J. Dionne called the Tea Party movement "the populism of the privileged," we learn Comcast is partnering with the Tea Party Express as it launches a new cable channel called RightNetwork. Its first spokesman? Kelsey Grammer, who's made a career out of portraying the opera-listening, wine-drinking, Harvard-attending, art-collecting, condo-dwelling, elitist, pompous snob, Dr. Frasier Crane: