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Pulp Culture
It's a P.C.
world, so
new 'E.T.'
gets revised

November 1, 2001
By Franklin Harris

When did Steven Spielberg become such a wimp?

The director is readying the 20th anniversary re-release of his 1982 blockbuster, "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," but like his pal George Lucas before him, Spielberg is making some "improvements" along the way.

"E.T." producer Kathleen Kennedy tells Entertainment Weekly that one of the changes we can expect is all guns are out.

"(Spielberg) has always regretted that he put guns in this movie," Kennedy says.

"He thought it kind of silly that the police would be chasing these kids with guns."

So instead, thanks to the marvels of digital technology, the police will be heavily armed with walkie-talkies.

Never mind what planet little E.T. is from. What planet are Spielberg and Kennedy from where the police and federal agents would not carry guns while in pursuit of anyone harboring an extraterrestrial being? Maybe Planet Stupid.

Yes, folks, political correctness in running amuck again. So who can really be surprised that a bleeding heart leftist like Spielberg would succumb to anti-gun hysteria?

And, in the midst of the new post-Sept. 11 hypersensitivity, Spielberg is redubbing at least one line of dialog from the film.

Instead of saying "You are not going as a terrorist!" actress Dee Wallace Stone will say "You are not going as a hippie!"

So now we can't even say the word "terrorist" around children?

Of course, "E.T." is Spielberg's movie, and he is free to make whatever silly changes to it he desires.

After all, he spent 20 years fooling around with different versions of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and never improved on the original.

But there is something sinister about this kind of politically motivated revisionism.

Some have actually proposed digitally removing the World Trade Center from old movies and TV shows.

That would certainly play havoc with the 1976 remake of "King Kong."

It's reminiscent of how Stalin went through the Communist Party's archives and inserted himself into all of the group photos, always at Lenin's right hand, where Trotsky had been.

Mind you, I don't really care about "E.T." per se. I've always regarded it as the beginning of Spielberg's decline. He goes from being the superb genre director of "Jaws," "Close Encounters" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to being the sentimentalist who cranked out "Hook" and stumbled with "A.I."

And the "E.T." revisions aren't as dimwitted as when Lucas altered the cantina scene in "Star Wars" to have Greedo shoot first. How stupid is that? I mean, if a homicidal, giraffe-headed bounty hunter is pointing a gun at my head and threatening to kill me, I'm not going to give him the first shot and pray he's the galaxy's worst marksman.

But Lucas didn't want Han Solo killing anyone in cold blood. Better for Solo be a lucky imbecile, I guess.

What's next?

It's the principle of the thing. And where will it end?

Lucas has already said he doesn't like the scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where Indiana Jones shoots the swordsman. Maybe he and Spielberg can get together and change that? And while they're at it, they probably think that there are far too many hearts being ripped out of people's chests in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." They can "fix" that, too.

Spielberg and Lucas could be sanitizing the Indiana Jones trilogy even now, which would at least explain why it isn't available on DVD yet.

We've certainly come a long way from Saturday mornings in the 1960s, when "Jonny Quest" cartoons gave us guns, bombs and bad guys meeting gruesome ends each week, and nobody worried that children couldn't handle it.

If Americans think today's children can't cope with a few guns in "E.T." or the mere mention of terrorists, then Spielberg and Lucas aren't the only wimps to worry about.

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