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Monday, November 11, 2013

How Strict Should We as Members Be When it Comes to the Movies We Watch?

Dear Bro Jo,

So here is my dilemma:  how strict should we as members be in the movies we watch?

I am currently dating someone who has very high media standards, basically only G rate moves (no swearing, violence or sexual reference).

I think this is very commendable however I find that I myself find joy in watching a wider range of movies let’s say PG, M etc., I too try to choose movies that aren't R rated or anything like that but I find that other movies have lots of valuable lessons and provide entertainment.

Am I a bad person for not sticking to higher media standards?

Or is it ok to watch a movie with a swear word in it, or a movie with some violence?

Where do you draw the line?

Thank you please keep my information anonymous

- Name Withheld

P.S thanks for your posts they are really helpful

Dear Anon,

Let me answer this way:

I don't see R-rated movies regardless of how highly they're praised or critically acclaimed they may be.

I consider that a personal choice for me, but also in line with prophetic recommendation.

As someone who spent a little time in the entertainment industry and has a degree in TV and Film, I believe that the things that earn a movie an R rating (be they violence, sex, or language) are gratuitous, and not things I want in my brain competing with the Spirit. Many in the Church, including some very high-profile members of the media, proclaim that certain images are okay for mature audiences and that some films should be an exception; I think that when we start to "make exceptions" to prophetic advice that we wander down a dangerous slope; blurring lines is never a good idea.

And I think that as a father I need to set an example for my children; if they're not supposed to see R-rated movies, then I shouldn't watch them either.

And I'll confess that I often find myself really wanting to see a movie, only to be depressed that it's earned that dreaded R-rating. So many movies I want to see . . . but I don't.

See, I know what makes those movies what they are, and I know that I have a vivid and active imagination, and I know that it's harder to hear and feel the Spirit when certain images and language is running around one's brain.

That said, I don't believe in putting too much stock in the Motion Pictures of America Association or many of their around-the-globe counterparts.

More than one time Sister Jo and I have rented a PG or PG-13 movie (some even recommended by "good Church members") that we felt clearly crossed the line. Ratings alone aren't enough.

(We actually like the site "Kids-In-Mind" as a better source for information when it comes to whether or not a film is "okay" to see.)

We must always rely on the Spirit and not be afraid to speak up, shut something off, or walk out (or away) when prompted to.

We've taken several movies back to our local video store (which, by the way, has always allowed us to trade the offending film for something else), but sadly I suspect we're more the exception than the rule. 

Remember, there's lots of entertainment to choose from out there; I've seen hundreds upon hundreds of Great Films that are also very appropriate family viewing.

Oh, I've seen a lot of duds, too, but the point is that you can follow the advice we've been given, see some films that are PG or M or PG-13, still have a zero tolerance policy for the R-rated movies, and have a pretty good time.

One person said it this way: apply the "Grandma Test". Would you be embarrassed if you were watching this scene or movie with your Grandma? If the answer is yes, turn it off and watch something else. Of course, that’s assuming your Grandma has the moral high standards I hope she has . . .

One more thought for you:  not all of my friends have married people that enjoy the same movies they do; I love that Sister Jo and I enjoy seeing movies together, and often (not always) have the same taste in entertainment.  I feel bad for my buddies whose wives won't go see the latest comic book or Tolkien movie with them; and I'm grateful that Sister Jo loves those kinds of movies!

And I'm grateful that she also likes watching period movies and TV shows with me.  Granted, she's often more interested in the costumes while I'm enjoying the history, but that's the point:  that we like being together and can find ways to enjoy things the other likes to do.  Marriage is cool like that.

If you let it be.

- Bro Jo


Anonymous said...

I use for movies and I've started using for books. Having the spirit with you at all times is really what matters most:)

Matthew said...

"Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom."-D&C 88:118.

"Don't watch rated R movies"-said no prophet ever to an adult.

Bro Jo said...

Jesus also never said "don't snort cocaine" . . . but that doesn't mean you should.

- Bro Jo

Matthew said...

Bro. Jo, obviously we're not commanded in all things, which I assume is your point, but modern day prophets have told us not to take illegal drugs.

Bro Jo said...

And yet you seem to be implying that there's nothing wrong with watching R-rated movies because it hasn't been specifically mentioned. To adults. Publicly. By a prophet.

As if that's the only way one can know right from wrong . . .

As if the advice given to the youth by need not apply to adults . . .

As if only words spoken by the President of the Church are words to be heeded . . .

As if, as you've noted, we need to be commanded in all things.

The path of justification is a very slippery slope, my friend.

Hey, I ain't perfect; I ought to know.

- Bro Jo

*Note: My first comment on the subject is that I choose not to watch R-rated movies as a matter of personal choice, and at no point in this post did I claim that a Prophet is on record saying "adults shouldn't see R-rated movies".

Spencer said...

My parents only watch a select few R rated movies and only because they have historical values or stories like saints and soldiers and shindlers list (i think that is how u spell it) im not allowed to watch these until im 18 so there is a "no R movies" rule in my house.

Bro Jo said...

Saints and Soldiers is PG-13 . . . and I think "because it has historical value", IMHO, is excuse making that allows us to cross a line.

That, my friend, is a dangerous habit to get into.

If one really wants to learn history, there are PLENTY of non-R-Rated movies to choose from . . . and some Excellent books.


- Bro Jo

Anonymous said...

Ok, I know this post is from three years ago, and I don't know if this comment will even be seen by anyone now, but I feel like I ought to share some things I learned while studying for a talk on entertainment and media. Maybe it will effect someone, maybe it'll just make me feel like I at least did what I could, here we go...
"Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic" -Ezra Taft Benson in his talk "To the Young Women of the Church." "Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic." -Ezra Taft Benson in his talk "To the Youth of Noble Birth-right."
Elder Wirthlin quoted President Benson on this during a BYU fireside, BYU students, I might add, are legally adults, and out of the youth program.
Also, "Any film, television show, music, or printed material unfit for youth is also unfit for parents. Those who rationalize acceptance of immoral material on grounds of maturity or sophistication are deceived." –Elder J Richard Clarke. Sure, he wasn't an apostle, but he was in the presidency of the seventy and asked to speak in general conference, I think what he said is still valid.
We are told to "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:22). That about sums it up. If it even appears evil, don't see it.
I'm sorry if I sound preachy, but I'm pretty passionate about this. :) Have a nice day. :)