Major chains are taking the titty out of the “Itty Bitty Titty Committee”

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As you may already know, the film Itty Bitty Titty Committee was released on DVD last Tuesday. I missed the film while it was playing on the festival circuit, so last Friday, I decided to venture to the nearest Hollywood Video to purchase the DVD. I wasn’t able to find the title on the floor, so I asked the sales clerk to search the store’s inventory. After running a search on a computer, the sales clerk replied that there was no such title. He told me that the store carried a title called Itty Bitty Committee but not Itty Bitty Titty Committee.

“No, that’s not the one,” I said. “The title of the film I’m looking for definitely has the word ‘titty.’”

He said the title Itty Bitty Committee was a new release and motioned for me to look at the computer screen. After taking a look, I realized the operative word in the title had been taken out. It turned out that all copies of the de-tittified title had already been sold, so I went to the nearest Blockbuster to rent the film.

Like Hollywood Video, Blockbuster also opted to offer the film without the word “titty,” at least in its brick and mortar stores.

Oddly enough, as if the process of opening the box, taking out the DVD and playing said DVD were a strip tease, the label on the DVD contained half-censorship: Itty Bitty T**ty Committee.

And finally, after one inserts the DVD into the DVD player, one can finally see the uncensored title in full on the title screen.

I thought that this charade was completely absurd, so I did a bit of research on the de-tittifying of the packaging of the film. I found an explanation on Power Up!’s web site:

Some retailers don’t like a certain colloquialism for the word breast. As a result, Wolfe Video is offering three packaging options for its award-winning Itty Bitty Titty Committee.

Retailers can order the DVD with its original title intact, a tamer version stamped Itty Bitty Ti**y Committee or a version that takes the word out altogether, with Itty Bitty Committee. The DVD streets on Sept. 2.

Despite some retailer concerns — two chains that are regular Wolfe customers are passing completely on the film — label president Maria Lynn said the originally titled box is the most popular version. “This title will still do well, but it should have been everywhere,” she said. “All of this over a word that is so innocuous.”

What is so horrifying about the word “titty” that caused two retailers to pass on selling the film altogether (even after being given the option of removing the word from the outside packaging)? Has our society not progressed past the point where a harmless slang term for a body part possessed by 50 percent of the population must be shielded from view? Are retailers afraid that some people may spontaneously combust out of distress or end up in a mental institution as a result of seeing the word “titty”?

In addition to the fact that the words “itty bitty” are supposed to modify the word “titty” and not the word “committee” — and that without the word “titty,” the title makes absolutely no sense —– removing the word “titty” from the title takes away from the central message in the film.

The dominant theme in the film is that women should not be ashamed of their breasts, no matter how small they are. Women should not hide them; women should not augment them beyond recognition; instead, women should be proud of their breasts. Some retailers are apparently so ashamed of displaying a colloquialism for the word “breasts,” that they have removed the word entirely.

In other words, they have sent out a message that breasts are inherently shameful. Talk about ironic. As Wolfe Films president Maria Lynn astutely pointed out, “You have [Saturday Night Live sketch] ‘Dick in a Box’ win an Emmy last year, and the word ‘titty’ is offensive.”

What are your thoughts?

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