Obviously by the title of this blog I am LDS or Mormon. As such I am counseled to try and monitor my media choices and look for things inspiring and free from degrading content. This is obviously getting harder and harder to do all the time but I try to make choices that I feel exist comfortably with my faith. Yet some people are critical of me when they see I am seeing one movie and not seeing another film. Aren’t Mormon’s not supposed to see R rated movies? I must get that question a million times, so I thought I would explain my process and how I determine what to see and not see.
First, I don’t believe not seeing R rated movies is an essential doctrine of my faith. There is no temple recommend question that asks about R rated movies and there is nothing that expressly forbids seeing them except in counsel to youth who technically shouldn’t be seeing them anyway unless over 17. We are taught to get the data, follow the spirit and make the decisions in media for ourselves. Other people chose to not see R rated films and I respect that and for the most part people respect my choices also.
Second, the MPAA is corrupt and stupid. An R rating from the MPAA is practically meaningless in my eyes. Many PG-13 films are more offensive than R rated films but careful editing will barely make it into a PG-13. There are so many sneaky things filmmakers can do that will get a PG-13 rating. For instance, if someone is shot and we don’t see blood that can still be a PG-13. Is it really so much more violent because we see blood? They are still getting shot.
Or a movie can have 3 or 4 swear words, like The Kings Speech or Bully, and get branded with an R rating when something can be full of objectionable content and get a PG-13. It’s nonsense if you ask me. You know what I do? I don’t trust a corrupt ratings board. I get the information myself from www.screenit.com and make the decision for myself of what I want to see. I think that is actually a much better way to live my faith than trusting an organization. I make the decision for myself.
I honestly don’t see that many R rated movies. People think there are way more than I actually do. Last year for 2015 I saw 12. There are so many movies I chose not to see because of content and I’m okay with that. I didn’t see Deadpool, The Witch, The Nice Guys, Don’t Breath, The Hateful Eight, Green Room- all films with excellent reviews that I wish I could have seen.
Sometimes I will take a risk like I did with the Revenant. It was at a screening so I wasn’t’ able to do the same kind of research. It was pretty brutal but I’m still glad I saw it.
Third, I know what bothers me. I was thinking about seeing Don’t Breathe but then I heard there was a rape scene in it. That bothers me, so I opted out. There is a rape scene in Batman: the Kililng Joke but it is all off screen and implied and I hated that movie so I guess that was a risk not worth taking. I tend to avoid horror movies but occasionally there will be one I like such as 10 Cloverfield Lane and Ex-Machina. I also don’t like movies where there is a stalker or some other kind of evil influence.
I also know to avoid any film with extreme nudity, sacrilege, and vulgar humor. I can’t remember what the film was but I was researching one recently and it had full frontal nudity and I said ‘nope!’ Skipping that one! I promised my blog readers I’d see every animated film of 2016 but then Sausage Party proved to be more than I could rationalize. I had to say no but I was able to get an amazing guest blogger to do a review, so everything worked out.
I personally chose to not see films edited unless on a plane or something. I know some like doing this but I want to be in or out. If I can’t in good conscience say I have seen the film on my review than what’s the point? There’s plenty of good films out there that I don’t need to see those movies.
The hardest thing to take into consideration is context. To me there is a clear difference between sensuality with a married couple and a stupid fling. Sex is an important part of married life. I think it can figure into storytelling and not be over the top or gratuitous.
Same thing with violence. Historical violence in a battle scene is a lot different than a scene where a person brutally stabs another person. You have personal violence and battle/historic violence. It’s not the same thing in my eyes.
I also usually ask the question of an R rated film- “Is this important?”. Meaning is this just a silly comedy or is it a movie that will really make me think. 12 Years a Slave for instance has disturbing stuff. There is no doubt about it but it should be disturbing! It’s about slavery for goodness sake. To me a film like that is worth it because you grow as a person understanding our history and culture.
Sometimes I just won’t have a good spirit about a film and I can’t even put my finger on it. People may find that arbitrary but no critic sees every single movie. They all have to pick and chose. It just so happens that some films that others love are ones I chose to not see. Trust me, I still see plenty of movies.
So for me there isn’t a doctrinal problem with the films I see. I try my best to do my own research about the content and make an informed decision instead of trusting a corrupt organization like the MPAA. I decide for me what I see! I recognize context and the amount of content. Is it gratuitous or does it really matter in the storytelling? All of those factors go into my decision.
How do you make your media choices? Do you have a system you use like Screenit.com? I would love to hear more.
5 thoughts on “You Saw That?…”
Excellent post. You’re absolutely right about needing to make a decision for yourself. It’s right in line with what Joseph said about “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” Also, I think there’s a rank hypocrisy at work among many Mormons (both men and women) who struggle with viewing porn in their private lives, but are publicly big sticklers for the “rated R” rule. It’s kind of funny, really.
Bravo! I love this article and it expresses how I’m coming to feel about movies. I do like things like VidAngel, and I use their service often for kids and myself, but I’m watching movies I’ve usually already seen unfiltered. It’s just nice to see it again without cringing when certain language is used. That’s really the only thing in mainstream movies that bothers me, other than explicit sex or gore. Movies with that content I choose not to see. I often check out reviews or use sites like kids in mind before deciding to see a movie in theaters. We almost didn’t see Jungle Book, but because I’ve got a kid who has night terrors after seeing dramatic scenes, not because of objectionable content. We discussed the dramatic scenes ahead of time with that son and he ended up being fine.
Anyway. Everyone has their own system and limits. I judge no one on their movie choices. I’ve personally never seen an R rated movie (not on TV, with editing) until American Sniper. I read the book and loved it. I found out why the movie was R rated, and I’d just read every single word and scene that lead to that.
I’ve never seen older movies, like Hitchcock’s The Birds or Psycho, because I can’t handle those. I don’t watch Criminal Minds for the same reason. I don’t do well with that genre. But I love a good war movie.
Thanks for this post!
Thank you so much Sally for your kind words. They mean a lot. You know when we think about blindly following the letter of the law that’s what the leaders did in Jesus’ time. But he said no there is a better way. I have also seen American Sniper and was enriched by it. I think that is worthwhile to see.