VidAngel gives families safe viewing options (and shoots a family with 3,192 paintballs)


Bosoms, blood and bad words — that is what fills our movie theaters these days.

VidAngel, a new video filtering system, wants to provide people a way to clean out that material, which is why they made an impact video for YouTube.

Using 50 automatic paintball guns, a team adorning T-shirts with modified swear words on their backs shot 3,192 paintballs at a family of four in only 5.3 seconds. That’s impact.

In the video, VidAngel compared two movies starting with the first swear word included in film, “Gone with the Wind” in 1939, and comparing it to the 2013 Oscar Best Picture nominee, “The Wolf of Wall Street.” “The Wolf of Wall Street” has the record for most cuss words in a movie: it used the F-word 528 times, 200 other uses of profanity and 27 scenes that included sex/nudity.

Believe it or not, co-founders Jeffrey and Neal Harmon didn’t just make this video because they wanted to hit people with paintballs — in fact, they experimented to ensure the safety of the people getting hit — they wanted to share the impact of media on individuals and families and showcase their new product, VidAngel, as a solution to the problem.

“The idea is one of the things we found is the subject is hard for a lot of people,” Jeffrey Harmon said. “How do you take a conversation that people don’t like to talk about and turn it into a dinner table conversation? This video gives people something they can share on social networks and gives people that care about this subject a voice.”

In 2012, the Harmons were working with viral YouTube videos, Orabrush and “Girl’s Don’t Poop for Poo~Pourri.” (These connections helped with VidAngel since co-worker, Dave Ackerman, who played Morgan the dirty tongue in the Orabrush videos, came up with the paintball idea.) While working with Orabrush, the Harmons observed the extent of unnecessary swearing in YouTube videos and wanted to do something about it.

“We were on YouTube and we thought, ‘Why can’t there be some type of filtering system on YouTube because there is so much swearing on YouTube?'” Jeffrey Harmon said.

When no one had taken their idea a year later, they decided to move forward with developing a solutions. Research showed that out of roughly 900 parents surveyed throughout the U.S., about half of those surveyed wished they had something like VidAngel to filter videos for their kids to watch.

In January 2014, the Harmon brothers began their 6 month beta testing period with VidAngel. Then they officially launched the site in mid-July.

“We’re not a moral authority,” Jeffrey Harmon said. “We’re not tying to say what it right and what’s wrong. We’re just saying what we fight for is the family to have the right to watch what they want and how they want to watch it in their home. It’s individual censorship.”

VidAngel reaches that goal by providing a free downloadable browser extension for desktops and laptops. Once downloaded, it works in YouTube and Google Play and provides filtering for over 10,000 titles.

Plus, everyone can volunteer to filter a movie or YouTube video, so the collection of titles will only grow.

With the tagline, “Streaming movies without the bosoms, blood and bad words,” families and people looking for cleaner viewing choices now have more options.

Rebecca Lane

While her first language is sarcasm, Rebecca dabbles in English and Russian to achieve her lifelong dream of being a journalist. A BYU sports fan, reading enthusiast and wannabe world traveler, Rebecca is a Colorado transplant that is convinced Colorado's mountains are much larger than the many Utah County peaks. Rebecca manages for Bennett Communications. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccalane.

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