Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mormons Entertained to (Spiritual) Death

A family or individual decides they want to watch a movie for the weekend. As a believing and practicing Mormon, they don't want a movie that will go against their morality at least more than can be reasonably tolerated. Life isn't perfect after all and we live in a world filled with sinners and differing views that can't be easily ignored. Short of becoming a recluse there isn't much that can be done in this life to keep away from all imperfections. Even those who want to be perfect need repentance. Regardless, looking at advertisements and reading Internet reviews makes the choice frustrating. All the movies seem to have gratuitous sex, violence, and profanity beyond the decided upon reasonable tolerance levels. This is even the case for those that look halfway decent to watch. There doesn't seem to be anything left to do other than go to the least offensive.

Hold on. There are other choices, although perhaps not the ones that are wished. It seems the defualt option has been to use a "offense filter" program that takes out unwanted parts of a movie. Related to this is a demand that film directors and producers release several versions of a film for larger consumption. On the surface this sounds great, but it doesn't resolve other problems like the overall message of a movie that might be equally offensive to the religious Mormon That can't be cleaned up. Besides, no matter how logical the argument might be that airlines and television have a cleaned up version, the denizens of Hollyweird are not going to listen. They live in a different world where artists come first no matter how hypocritical and false that label. If they put their work out for the public to see then they shouldn’t cry foul when the public has a voice to judge them and their works. You want to be a non-sell out artist? Stop selling it as a product. Consumers can always with a book cross out words with black marker, or even rip out whole pages, chapters, sections, whatever. Basically that is the point of Cleanflix. True, you shouldn’t really do that with a library book that is similar to renting a video. However, that choice doesn't exist when owning a movie or music copy.

The best choice, and the one that I think Mormons should grab hold of as a few already have, is not to attend or buy any entertainment product unless fully in conformity with an individual comfort level. This is an option that an increasing number of people are doing (and not just Mormons); opting out of movies, music, and television shows altogether. Most discussions are going under the assumption of people who are movie viewers, and there has been a trickle of fewer of those. Consumers might not be able to control what goes on the screen, big or small, but they can control the wallet and their eyes and ears. If producers and artists don’t change, then there is the opt-out choice that some have discovered.

Creative purists have a mocking tone and snobbish disregard for the feelings of others that writers and directors shouldn’t get the respect as artists some demand. If they want to turn their noses at those who feel the work is gratuitous, then vow to keep them from getting any of your money. The road to reform, personal and otherwise, starts there.


Carla Schmidt Holloway said...

Your dollar is your vote. I hope people use it as wisely and carefully as they would if they were voting in a voting booth.

John Teal said...

For a long time we haven't watched 18 rated films, then we stopped watching 15s now we have to think twice before watching films classified as 12s !

Last year I did a presentation at a Young Womens camp about media and we had a pretty open discussion about film ratings and web sites that allow you to find out what content in a film led to its classification.
Sad but as adults some of us set a bad example, the girls thought it hypocritical of parents who would stop them watching a 15 but watch it themselves.
The general opinion of the group was to truly abide by the 13th article of faith no member of the church should watch inappropriate films even if they are old enough in the eyes of the world. "out of the mouth of babes"


Tigersue said...

One of my biggest pet peeves is the put down from people who will watch R rated movies to those of us who don't saying we will watch any Pg, PG 13 movie no matter the content.

My husband and I are very picky about what we see, and try to limit sex and violence (both really bother me to watch, I'm not a voyeur and I really can't deal with violence for the most part), and he really, really hates language, particularly the use of the Lord's name.

I went to an education week class years ago at BYU by Ronald Wright (Sure of the last name but not the first), he worked in Hollywood and was on the review boards for movie rating. This is what he said in essence, "Although there are many PG, PG-13 movies that should have an R rating, all movies that are rated R deserve that rating. He is all for the standard setting a limit at R rated movies and following the guidelines given by the General Authorities, and also using common sense in judiciously choosing films to see.

Tigersue said...

Oh, we also had a clear play and the company would not stand by their guarantee when we called them that our machine quit working properly. We had it roughly a year. Others with the same issue got a new machine, we were only offered a discount on one. It is not worth the price for me, as I still would not buy a rated R movie to have, and when we tested the violence setting we had to reset it to nearly the lowest level to enjoy the Narnia movies (It cut out the entire battle). The language was just muted so you could still see the actors speak the word, which in my head is as bad as hearing it. I might would consider another if they come out with a blue ray device, until then we are back to what we were before, careful consideration of what movies we have in the house.

Joseph Petersen said...

I loved your take on this subject, yet it seems that I would be extremely difficult to adhere to. Several of your favorite movies, and mine also, like Lord of the Rings, fall into this category of which you have discussed.