The co-writer/director of “Roe v. Wade” got quite a shock after seeing his movie’s page on Xfinity.
Nick Loeb says the cable giant showcased the film, available now for rental, along with a “Parental Guide” feature giving families more information about the title. A viewer might expect a breakdown of the movie’s profanity, sexual content and other factors that may prevent parents from letting their children view it.
The page did that… and quite a bit more.
The Parental Guide dubbed “Roe v. Wade” a “mediocre drama” that is “heavily biased” and “emotionally manipulative.” That’s the tag line attached to the film for curious parents punching up the “Parental Guide” option. Positive messages in the movie? The Guide gave it a zero score out of five potential stars.
“Roe v. Wade” speaks to Loeb’s pro-life views, no doubt, but the Parental Guide description feels more like a review from a pro-choice outlet instead of a neutral platform.
That’s no accident.
Xfinity leans on Common Sense Media to shape its Parental Guide features. The organization, which promises “Trusted ratings created with families in mind,” is decidedly left-leaning in its film coverage. The web site doesn’t tell readers that, though. It calls itself “independent” frequently, though.
Since 2003, Common Sense has been the leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools.
The nonprofit’s reviews suggest it cares more about one half of the country than the other. Here are some examples:
Parents need to know that Fahrenheit 11/9 is an urgent, cautionary documentary by controversial filmmaker Michael Moore that targets both Donald Trump and the attitudes in America that led to him and others like him taking power. It also celebrates underdogs who speak up and fight for what they believe in. (Positive Messages: 3 out of 5 stars)
Parents need to know that Unpregnant deals with the mature themes of pregnancy and abortion, but in an upbeat way aimed at a mature teen audience. Abortion is treated as a logical and valid option for a 17-year-old with other plans, and the procedure is described clinically and visualized step-by-step in one scene. Those who disagree with this option, especially activists who are portrayed as quite crazy in the film, aren’t the target audience. The film suggests young people are meant to explore their sexuality and also have control over it. (Positive Messages: 3 out of 5 stars)
Parents need to know that No Safe Spaces is a documentary about the supposed restrictions on free speech in modern America, particularly on college campuses. The film — which is hosted by libertarian-leaning comic Adam Carolla and conservative talk show host Dennis Prager — puts an unapologetically conservative spin on the issues it covers. The material is too mature for younger kids, since it requires some grasp of nuance to understand how the film carefully curates facts and experiences to present a particular point of view. (Positive Messages: 1 out of 5 stars)
The site called the far-left “Knock Down the House,” profiling four progressive politicians, an “outstanding docu about underdog Congressional hopefuls.” The Hulu documentary “Hillary,” which offered a glowing portrait of the former First Lady, got a positive review, too -- “an affectionate portrait of political icon digs deep.”
Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s “Hillary’s America,” the 2016 docudrama grilling the failed presidential candidate, got slammed by Common Sense Media as potentially inspiring violence.
“Becoming,” the 2020 hagiography of former First Lady Michelle Obama, delivered an “enlightening journey,” according to Common Sense Media.
“Obvious Child,” the 2014 dramedy brimming with pro-choice sentiments and cheered on by Planned Parenthood, was labeled a “smart, irreverent, edgy romcom about complex choices.”
Common Sense Media can review films in any manner it wishes. Providing parents with information about a film or TV show’s adult elements is a helpful, handy service, no matter the bias baked into the reviews.
Steering audiences away from right-leaning content, aided and abetted by one of the country’s largest cable companies, is another matter.
Parents expecting a fair and balanced assessment from Xfinity are getting something quite different.