Sitting on a folding chair in the eye of what has developed into a full-blown morality storm, Don Biesinger assumes a posture that is the very antithesis of self-importance.
In the back room of his family video store, a few feet from where an editing technician is rescuing Kate Winslet's virtue, yet again, Biesinger drops his cane over his arm, adjusts his thick glasses, and begins to speak as well as the cerebral palsy he's had since birth will permit.He wears a kind of bemused look as he gazes at the store aisles, literally littered with copies of "Titanic" waiting to be exorcised. When he and his co-owner/wife, Carol, put up the sign on their marquee two weeks ago - "We will Edit Your Titanic for $5" - they had no idea.
"I don't know what I expected," says the man who got it all started, "but I didn't expect this."
A couple of days into the deluge, after tapes started flooding in from Alaska and New York and Florida and Hawaii, Paramount Pictures called from Hollywood.
On one end of the line: typical studio attorney . . . salary in the $350-an-hour range . . . linen suit . . . alligator loafers . . . no socks.
On the other end: Don.
Studio lawyer: "Stop selling edited versions of `Titanic'!"
Don: "I'm not selling them."
Studio lawyer: "Stop renting edited versions of `Titanic'!"
Don: "I'm not renting them."
Studio lawyer: "Stop editing `Titanic'!"
Studio lawyer: "Why not?"
Don: "I'm not doing anything wrong."
Studio lawyer: "You're interfering with the copyright!"
Don: "These people own these tapes."
Want to hear something funny?
Don Biesinger bought a copy of "Titanic" and it will not be edited.
He looks at it as a collector's item. He may not even break the seal.
Don agrees with the Best Picture vote. He thinks the movie is a "work of art," although he does admit he has a difficult time understanding the Leonardo DiCaprio phenomenon.
He says he very well might have paid himself the $5 to edit his own copy if he had young kids at home, but he doesn't. His family is not in the same boat as those with kids perhaps too young to be exposed to too much too early.
His basic philosophy is this: Why watch a movie if it makes you squirm?
That was the criterion he put on a successful movie experience way back when he was 6 and his uncle would walk him to the Bijou in downtown Springville and they'd watch movies for a dime.
That's the criterion now.
He and Carol bought Sunrise Family Video two years ago as a kind of retirement package. Took the pension and plunged. It's their past and their future. The location's not bad, a block off Main Street, not far from businesses with names like Family Floral, Creative Weddings, and the Towne Cinema, which created a "Titanic" furor of its own this past summer when it showed edited versions to turnaway crowds until Paramount cited copyright laws and shut it down.
Don and Carol noted the keen local interest in "family edited viewing" and acted on that keen local interest when the video version of "Titanic" appeared. And while they aren't exactly getting rich off their $5 "Titanic" offer - they pay technicians 75 cents an edit and the fast technicians can do 10-plus edits an hour - they're not losing money, either. And ain't that the point?
As Don says, "We're not out to change the world."
But they will change your videotape.
They say the cruelest part about cerebral palsy is it won't allow what's inside to come out.
But as Don Biesinger pulls himself up with his cane as you leave his store, his face wearing a sagacious grin, you realize that's not always the case. Sometimes, what's inside comes out loud and clear.