Your Friday Firestorm #10

We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading.

Ezra Taft Benson, “To the ‘Youth of the Noble Birthright'”, Ensign, May 1986 (reporting the proceedings of Priesthood Session, 156th Annual General Conference)

Discuss.

Comments

  1. You know, recently I’ve been watching very few movies (having a little baby does that to you). Then I rented Pan’s Labyrinth, hearing many good things about it. I knew it was rated R, but I’ve seen R-rated movies, and still have one or two in my collection at home.

    An interesting thing happened, however, as I watched the movie. I never finished it. I was too repulsed by the violence right near the start. The captain, this bad guy, stabs an innocent farmer in the face with his pen to the point of death, then he shoots the young man’s father, and then turns the gun on the young man he stabbed in the face with his pencil to finish the job. I was so repulsed by that scene that I could not watch the rest of that movie.

    It isn’t as if I hadn’t seen worse scenes before. After all, I loved Kill Bill. But I loved Kill Bill when I was in the R-rated movie watching days. I was already desensitized. Now I can still watch Kill Bill and not feel shocked because I’ve already accepted it in my system. At least to a point.

    A few years back I watched Schindler’s List for the first time in like five years or so. Another interesting thing happened. I did not like the violence in that movie one bit. I felt I really did not need to see the bullet go through the old man’s head and dark blood seeping out onto the cold white snow. And so on.

    I bet in another year or two, Kill Bill’s violence will have been purged enough from my system so that if/when I watch it again, I would be disturbed enough to turn it off.

    It takes taking a step back from being in the world to realize that indeed the violence, strong language and adult content in these movies really are bad for you.

  2. ahhh–the perks of being old…

  3. Forget whatever personal stance you have on R-rated movies and look at that sentence as an English assignment and answer the following question: Is President Benson saying we shouldn’t watch R-rated movies period or is he saying we shouldn’t watch R-rated movies that are immoral, suggestive or pornographic? In other words, what does the sentence structure suggest?

    Also, even though he was speaking to young men at a Priesthood meeting, is this counsel binding for the general membership?

  4. Agree with Rusty. The statement to not watch R-rated movies is obviously qualified.

    One could then contend that all R-rated movies are “immoral, suggestive [and] pornographic.” That would be a very hard argument to make, though.

  5. Questions... says:

    One of the most liberating and exciting ideas I came across when I investigated many, many years ago was Joseph Smith’s statement “I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” I sat through many Gospel Doctrine classes where the Jews of old were condescendingly looked down upon because they had to have all those specific rules and regulations governing every tiny aspect of their lives, while today we live a “higher” law. Ironically, the ‘correlated’ system of church governance seems to me to function more like the “lower” law of old.

    I understand the need for such rules and regulations to protect us in childhood, where one’s maturity and experience are limited, and unanticipated harm may result without some appropriate restrictions on choice. But as we mature, our choices need to be more “internally based” which is after all the basis of the Plan of Salvation.

    To me, the “R-rated” issue is simply one of many examples where the Church acts like an over-protective parent, who can never quite come to the point of trusting their offspring, allowing them to grow and mature, and forever treats them as children. I can appreciate the intent, but the result seems to be contrary to the concept of eternal progression.

  6. I choose my rated-R movies the same way I choose my PG-13 ones–with discretion.

    Additionally, I would much rather have my (imaginary) 14-year old son sit down with me and watch Schindler’s List or Saving Private Ryan or Shawshank as opposed to mindless junk like Austin Powers.

  7. When I first got engaged, I made a choice not to watch R rated movies, not based on a moral decision or spiritual decision, but on the intellectual decision that this mattered so much to my fiance’ that she sent me a list of the 100 or so quotes from that time period which say no R-rated movies. Of Course, the church has sense realized that the rating system is different outside the USA, and in an effort to be less ethnocentric, it has changed.

    Anyway, what Dan says is true. Most movies I used to love, I go back to know and I see how sex laden and violent and pointless they are.

  8. Matt W.

    I don’t watch R-rated movies any more for the same reason. :) It was difficult at first, but I don’t really mind any more.

  9. This is an interesting bit of church history, but I don’t think the counsel about R-rated movies has much to do with latter-day saints today.

    The most current copy of FOR THE STRENGTH OF YOUTH does not mention R-rated movies, and I think there are a few reasons for that.

    One is a reflection of the international church and the diversity of ratings around the globe.

    Second is that many videos releases, with directors cuts, often put back violence that would make them R-rated even though the film was rated PG-13 when it showed in theaters. I’m thinking of RETURN OF THE KING offhand, but many others as well.

    But also, I think it is clear that the MPAA ratings criteria are not consistent with LDS moral standards. I thought ORDINARY PEOPLE was an uplifting film, and it was given an R-rating because a frustrated teenager used the F-word a few too many times. This was also why the currently playing indie film ONCE got the R (I haven’t seen it yet because I live in a small town, but in his review Roeper was encouraging teens to sneak in to see it, and expressing great frustration that they can see splatter films but not that movie, which has no violence and no sex.)

    I got interested in watching the R-rated WINDTALKERS when I saw a display at the BYU art museum that mentioned the film. We netflixed the movie without looking at the rating, because it been recommended at BYU. And we fast-forwarded through the goriest parts.

    And there are so many worthless PG-13 films, that “not watching R” is a false sense of security. I had to stop watching HOPE SPRINGS because of the casual sex, and that’s only the most recent one I can remember.

  10. Personal discretion, folks. The most oft cited example being “Schindlers List”- of which I own and find both artistic and social merrit.

    One of my favorite movies “Pulp Fiction”, I cannot watch anymore- I feel ill when I try. I’ve become more sensitized, and I think that’s good.

  11. Can I “grandfather in” some R-rated movies from my pre-Mormon life? My wife and I now watch our R-rated movies (and quite a few others) using the ClearPlay technology. Most of the times it works pretty well, but it has mangled a couple of movies, making them nigh incomprehensible. But it lets us calibrate exactly what we want to see (more violence, less nudity, etc.). However, I can’t find the filters for some of my favorite old R-rated movies that I watched before I got baptized (like Swingers and Half-Baked).

    For anyone not familiar with the concept of “grandfathering in”, if you were doing it before the rule came out, you can do it after the rule comes out to the same extent, but no further. That’s the general sense.

  12. Eric Russell says:

    Dan, you’re not supposed to like the violence in Schindler’s List.

  13. I am with the “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves” camp. I choose all my movies with discretion, regardless of their rating.

    The LDS church does not run the MPAA which rates movies in the United States. This group sets the ratings based on arbitrary rules and standards that shift and change over time. What was rated R 20 years ago may be rated differently today because the MPAA’s standards have changed with the shifting standards of society. In addition, other countries rate their movies on an entirely different system or not at all. How can a global church set the “rated R” standard when movies are rated entirely differently all over the world? Does a member of the church living in Nairobi have to look up the US rating for a movie they want to watch to make sure it’s kosher?

    I agree with #5 that having everything we eat, drink, watch, listen to, and wear spelled out by the leaders of the church is adhering to the “lower law.” I prefer to learn correct principles, stay close to the spirit, and decide for myself.

  14. Jordan F. says:

    So where is the firestorm?

  15. It is also interesting to note that there are TONS of R-rated movies from the 80’s and early 90’s that are running unedited on basic cable–where many LDS once felt comfortable watching R-rated movies because hey, all the bad stuff has been cut out!

    I saw Last of the Mohicans on AMC the other night. Absolutely nothing was cut.

  16. Nick Literski says:

    When I first got engaged, I made a choice not to watch R rated movies . . . this mattered so much to my fiance’ that she sent me a list of the 100 or so quotes from that time period which say no R-rated movies.

    Matt, please don’t take this as a specific comment about your wife, who I’m sure is a wonderful woman. In general, however, if I was romantically involved with a person who would send me a list of “100 or so” quotes from authority figures as comment on my behavior, I’d run as fast and as far as I possibly could. I guess I can see where some would see such a person as wonderfully supportive of their “righteous goals,” but I would really be afraid of what lengths such a person might go to once the rings were on our hands.

  17. What about this part?

    for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards

    Is this true? Even when we repent, the atonement does not completely heal us? My own experience suggests that the mind can be restored. Since I quit watching what I thought were images of gratuitous violence, over time, I have forgotten most of them. I honestly can’t remember any of the violence from “Gladiator,” for example. (only Russel Crowe’s bad acting).

    Many of the above comments seem to describe a similar pattern of being “resensitized.” Is this at odds with President Benson’s statement that the mind is never the same afterwards? Or President Benson just describing the state of the unrepentant mind?

    When we repent, can the healing power of the atonement sometimes include the gift of forgetfulness along with the gift of forgiveness?

  18. #5

    You have hit the nail on the head! In so many ways we have become the Pharisees and Sadduccees that we so often deride in Sunday School.

  19. Nick: It was a fair move for her to make in context. (I had thrown out something cavalier like “prove to me the church authoritis say this.”) One of my requirements for a companion was someone who could and would argue there perspective effectively. Maybe you like your companion to always agree with and submit to you on everything 100% of the time. Personally, I wanted something better than that.

  20. JKC,

    #15

    That’s a good question you raise. I think on the one hand, the mind is never the same anyways, after anything. I may not remember the visceral palpable reaction to a particular scene, but my mind will always remember that scene. My dad watched pornography when I was young, and I remember seeing it once on the TV (children are really good at catching their parents doing something naughty). I will never forget the images I saw. They are seared in my mind, and now, 21 years later, I can still see them clearly.

  21. The pharisee comparison is a bit of a non-starter. We were counseled. There is no discipline attached to this counsel. It is up to us to ask God for ourselves if we believe the Counsel is from God and for us.

    Anyway, we spend way too much time vicariously entertaining ourselves with media rather than living real life. Speaking of which, I just got Madden 07 for my Nintendo Wii and it is totally sweet! I bet I have logged something like 3-5 hours every day! Anyone up for an all-nighter in WOW tonight?

  22. Matt W., Metroid 3 rules all over the wii.

    And I find it surprising how comfortable Church leaders are to outsource a major piece of counsel to a quasi-political organization like the MPAA.

  23. No idea what an “R” rating is. Rad? Really Rad? Repulsive? Republican?

  24. Ronan, it’s “restricted.”

  25. I find the whole way people talk about movies to be really interesting.

    When I stopped watching rated R movies, people would say things to me like, “You HAVE to see this movie!” As if I would be horribly deprived if I missed out on it.

    But you know what? I don’t have to watch that movie.

    I don’t have to watch Schindler’s List to know how horrible the holocaust was. Or Saving Private Ryan to understand how horrible war is. I’ve seen real footage of concentration camps and I don’t ever need to see that again.

    People talk about movies like they’re the end all and be all. Take a step back and listen to how people talk about them sometime. It’s interesting.

    (But if you participate over at KB at all you know I’m weird about movies. No interest in the majority of them.)

  26. Steve,

    I refuse to believe that. How can the land of the free engage in restricting art?

    You’re lying.

  27. Susan,

    Once you get that DVD player, you’ll start to understand.

  28. I truly believe this counsel was directed to youth. Adults can make their own decisions. Orson Scott Card wrote a great column about this issue, “Is There an R-Rated Movie Commandment?” It was about “Passion of the Christ” but applied to R-rated movies in general. Moderation and common sense are the keys.

    My position about R-rated movies is the same as my position on Mountain Dew and caffeinated sodas. If you don’t wanna partake, fine. But don’t think for a minute that you’re a better Mormon or better person because you shun something that’s not even forbidden. And don’t judge others based on your personal interpretations of church counsel.

    That being said- I drink soda and watch R-rated movies with impunity. I was happier when I was more moderate with these things.

  29. And from whom are these movies restricted? And who makes the restriction? What are the criteria? Do the Brethren sit down and make these ratings?

    I’m confused.

  30. What? I always thought it stood for “recommended”. Dang, and all this time I’ve been watching them…

  31. So what makes the ‘good’ R-rated movies good? Is it just a feeling? If so, do we have to feel good about everything we see in a movie? Do I really have to feel guilty about seeing a PG13 movie where ‘immoral lifestyles’ are portrayed?

    I’m a little skeptical for intense moralizing in our movie choices. At the same time, I remember very distinctly that when my wife was first pregnant she couldn’t stomach violence (at any mpaa level). It severely limited our movie choices, but I think it illustrates that we should listen to our inner voice. Movies are supposed to fun/entertaining.

  32. The R stands for “Ronan and Rusty are Really Retarded.” But only in the sense that “retarded” means “uncool, lame, yadda yadda” and not in the sense that in means “disabled” as that would be mean. Also, it only means “uncool, lame, yadda yadda” in the sense that “ha ha, I called you uncool and lame, isn’t that funny? come give me a hug.” and not in the sense of “you are uncool and lame and I am holding a thermal detonator” as that also would be mean.

  33. Re: #1

    A few years back I watched Schindler’s List for the first time in like five years or so. Another interesting thing happened. I did not like the violence in that movie one bit. I felt I really did not need to see the bullet go through the old man’s head and dark blood seeping out onto the cold white snow. And so on.

    I don’t think the filmmaker intended that we “like” the violence in Schindler’s List; we’re supposed to be repulsed by it.

    Given the strong anti-violence message that this and certain other films send (albeit sometimes through graphic imagery), it raises the question of whether they ought to be considered “immoral, suggestive, or pornographic.”

    In my opinion, a film or other work of art is not to be deemed “immoral” merely if it portrays immoral behavior. I think the determination should have more to do with the overall message of the film. But please recognize that I’m not saying that the manner of portrayal is totally irrelevant to a determination of a film’s moral merits (violence or sexuality can be gratuitous, even in films that otherwise send a positive message), but it should be one of many factors taken into consideration.

    In the end, I think the R-rated movie issue is a matter of personal choice and preference. The Church currently seems more concerned with communicating sound principles that should help us make good choices regarding media.

  34. Matt W.,

    You are making jokes about terrorism (what else was Boushh up to?). I think you have been watching too many of these “restrictable” movies and are going to hell.

  35. So-called “restrictable” movies, I should add.

  36. Just a thought about sensitization–

    I happen to be extremely (ridiculously)sensitive to movie violence–I recently spent most of the Bourne Identity with my head in my hands because I just can’t stand watching people get hurt. I threw up several times during Schindler’s List. However, I don’t think this is any reflection on the virtue of my prior choices in entertainment; it’s just an odd personality quirk. I imagine it is possible to become relatively more or less sensitive to some things, but we probably all start with a baseline that has more to do with temperament than righteousness, and should therefore be careful not to generalize too much based on our individual reactions.

  37. (Deep Hut like Life) Ronan, you are my kind of scum. Fearless and inventive.

  38. Peter LLC says:

    the church has s[inc]e realized that the rating system is different outside the USA, and in an effort to be less ethnocentric, it has changed.

    So after the Brethren created a loophole large enough for over half of the Church membership to sin through, there wouldn’t be much point in enforcing it?

    I try to help my European brothers and sisters catch the R ratings vision, but the blank stares (see Ronan) tell me they aren’t buying it. Ignorance must be bliss.

  39. StillConfused says:

    Glad to know this is only applicable to the men!

  40. Nick Literski says:

    #17 Matt:
    It was a fair move for her to make in context. (I had thrown out something cavalier like “prove to me the church authoritis say this.”)

    Ahhh…then you got exactly what you deserved! :-)

    Maybe you like your companion to always agree with and submit to you on everything 100% of the time.

    Absolutely not, Matt, nor was that the point of my post. Rather, I thought it was sort of a heavy-handed (perhaps a tad self-righteous) religious sledgehammer approach. Having read that you challenged her to prove her point, I’d say her response was entirely appropriate. :-)

  41. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    I saw “Shakespeare In Love” in university and loved it. I bought myself a copy because I loved it so much. I thought Joseph Fiennes looked like the man I was dating (and am married to now!) and as an English major, I enjoyed how they wove bits of Shakespeare’s plays into the script. But now I haven’t watched it in years and can’t bring myself to. I keep it because it used to mean a lot to me but I can’t stomach the adultery (not that we ever see the poor, abandoned wife) and the stupid rationalizations for it any more.

    On the other hand, I got “Monsoon Wedding” out of the library and as far as I can tell, the only reason it would be rated “R” is because of the revelation — never depiction — of child molestation. It’s a heavy topic yes, but I don’t think it deserves more than a PG-13.

    This is why I like sites like Screen-It.com that tell me exactly what’s in a movie so I can decide if it’s too objectionable or not.

  42. “R” Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

    I discriminate with both PG-13 and R. I’ve walked out of PG-13 movies more than once. The silly, sexual humor meant to titillate the teens and pre-teen is more offensive to me that a sex scene in Schindler’s list.

    The reason I stay away from many “R” movies is because I don’t care to watch violence and some sex –not all, if it’s in context, it’s ok–, not because Pres. Benson said to. And even though he was speaking to the youth, it was immediately picked up by many members as a new “commandement.” Many love to multiply commandements; it makes them feel more righteous.

    As far pictures staying in your mind or memory I wonder if it might be different for different people. Some porn showed up on my computer several years ago and I watched, I even went back a couple of times out of curiosity. Until the internet, women really didn’t have access to porn–not that it’s a right or anything–so, yes, I was curious. After three times my curiosity was satistifed and I quit. That was, at least, 4 years ago, and I’ve had not desire to go back to it. I may not be an addictive personality. But I can also say that those images don’t float around in my head. I don’t remember any details just the general idea and it’s not something I think about. I don’t believe it has affected me negatively at all.

    BTW, I’m not a young thing; over 50. It’s interesting to read comments by much younger people because you weren’t aware when Pres. Benson’s remarks took off; you didn’t experience the frenzy. And as shown by Matt W.’s wife’s 100 quotes list, it was a frenzy.

  43. #19 Matt W

    I wasn’t trying to imply any pending church discipline for not heeding counsel in my comment, just trying to allude to the hypocritical and judgemental self imposed “social discipline” that is often rampant after the counsel is given to the body of the church (as BrYan commented on in #26), regardless of whether an individual feels at peace with their multiple earings, tattoos, coke drinking, R rated movie watching, etc.

    My point is our outward physical manifestations of our faith are becoming more important than our inward spiritual connections to God, and the list of appearance items just keeps growing.

  44. Peter LLC says:

    Actually, some of those liberal, “smoking ban, what’s that?”, free-love-let’s-not-get-married-but-if-we-do-divorce-is-always-an-option European countries have restrictions that go a long way to implementing Benson’s advice among the general population.

    In the central European country I call home, the movies are rated by age (between 0–18, with most between 8–16) and if you are too young, thou shalt not enter, not even when accompanied by an adult. Period. As a consolation, the drinking age is 14 (16–18 to purchase, depending on what it is).

  45. Peter LLC says:

    My point is our outward physical manifestations of our faith are becoming more important than our inward spiritual connections to God

    BISHOP (looking up from temple recommend questions): Brother Jensen, I’ve noticed that you haven’t been wearing a white shirt lately and I’m concerned…

  46. Peter,

    Speaking of the Godless Continent, I noticed that in Ireland, Pan’s Labyrinth is “18” but in England it’s “15.”

    What’s an Irish Mormon to do? I mean, if “18” is roughly “R” and thus verboten, can she get on the Dublin-Holyhead ferry and watch the film with impunity in the UK? For those of us who want our moral choices to be nice and simple, it’s just so confusing.

    I blame Bush.

    (Dan, the shocking-but-sparse violence in PL is absolutely essential to the film, which, IMO, is of great report and very praiseworthy.)

  47. BR – “until the Internet, women really didn’t have access to porn.” You must not have had brothers! And your statement is kind of ridiculous.

    Or, didn’t watch any movies when you were sixteen like A Clockwork Orange and 9 1/2 Weeks. See, I was a moviephile in high school, still am, and I probably watched a lot of movies that were above me thematically and graphically, I guess I should have waited till I was older. I kind of see the suggestion of Pres. Benson’s of, maybe you shouldn’t see that stuff when you are a kid. Now that I’m an adult, I make better choices because I understand the choices better, I have more experience so I don’t go absolutely crazy in my movie watching. I want to protect my children from some of the ill-informed choices I made as a kid.

  48. I threw up several times during Schindler’s List.

    And you didn’t just turn it off, Kristine?

  49. I threw up several times in The Matrix, mainly because it sucked.

  50. I passed out during a movie once, but it was the reproduction and birth video in high school.

    Seriously.

  51. I was thrown out of Lamaze class during the video because during the “money shot” I said in an audible, throaty whisper, “Oh yeah … That’s hot.”

    My wife was, let’s just say, not happy with me.

  52. #23: I’m pretty much with Susan.

    I enjoy a good film, but I’ve become much more picky in the last 5 years or so. For one thing, my wife and I stick to PG-or-lower fare as a general guideline, but it’s not binding. I’ve also become more film-literate and critical; I recently avoided going to see the lastest explosion-laden flick with some friends because the evidence suggested a weak plot and ridiculous dialogue.

    Does that leave me with many choices? Perhaps not among the new releases, but I can watch Bob Hope/Bing Crosby/Dorothy Lamour “Road to ____” movies until the cows come home. Doris Day, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart… simply wonderful.

    My thoughts on the “necessity” of seeing the latest film every single Friday can be summed up by a parenthetic passage I went over with my youth Sunday school class last Sunday:

    “(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) [Acts 17:21]”

    I personally enjoy many of the old “things” better than the new ones!

  53. Mary A

    You’re right I didn’t have brothers. Grew up on another continent entirely too. Boobs, yes. Porn, sex acts, no.

    Nine and a 1/2 weeks came out waaaaay after i was a teen. Clockwork Orange is closer but I didn’t see it,no.

  54. Brad Kramer says:

    The violence in PL was essential to the narrative and was a small piece of a larger whole that was indeed praisworthy. Violence should be shocking when employed artistically. The viscerally satisfying, glorified, romanticized violence of Braveheart, Gladiator, Patriot, etc. is far more nefarious and evil than violence that is actually uncomfortable to watch. Part of what made Munich so powerful (though, admitedly problematic) was Speilberg’s ability to portray sympathetic characters engaging in retrebutive violence against unsympathetic characters in a viscerally insatisfying manner without resorting to the gratuitous torture-p0rn tactics of recent cinematic fashion.

    FWIW I actually thought Children of Men was a slightly better film than Pan’s Labyrinth, though it also employed difficult-to-watch but structurally (and polemically) effective depictions of violence.

    I also think that HBO’s The Wire is the greatest television ever made–TV drama as Great modern liturature. Sex, violence, and profanity are a part of life. Artists can use them effectively without using them to exploit consumers of art.
    Or, if serious art is not your proverbial cup of tea, that’s your prerogative.

  55. Brad Kramer says:

    er, UN-satisfying…

  56. All the people who won’t watch The Passion of the Christ because it is R-rated crack me up. It is about Jesus for crying out loud. I have sat through firesides where the process of crucifixion has been repeated in excruciating detail and everyone left saying it was a profound spiritual experience. However, if some nameless committee slaps an R-rating on the outside, suddenly it can’t possible be worthwhile. I prefer Moroni’s standard–that which inspires us to do good is of God.

    Also, When Harry Met Sally is a classic.

  57. “mindless junk like Austin Powers”

    Sadder words were never spoken.

  58. Thomas Parkin says:

    “My point is our outward physical manifestations of our faith are becoming more important than our inward spiritual connections to God, and the list of appearance items just keeps growing.”

    I disagree. I think the list is about what it ever was, but it is much less rigidly enforced in the culture than in the past – there is, ime, much less of the negative sanctioning that I experience over minutia. Most of what we are talking about is a product of times two decades past and more. I don’t see nearly the energy put into tying appearance to righteousness that I saw growing up. Maybe just me; ymmv.

    As to R-rated movies: there certainly is a lot of stuff that is just a waste of time – of every rating. And there is plenty that is spiritually harmful. I don’t know whether seeing something that makes you ‘feel icky’ is the same thing as seeing something that has harmed you. My questions would be: did this deepen my spirituality, increase my feeling for goodness and following the Lord? Did it loosen my desire to draw near the Lord, did it pull into ‘the world?’ Mulholland Drive had a deep effect for good in the life. It would take some writing to explain why. Few people would have been situated just so as I was, though. Clearly, there is at least some room for subjectivity. We will see only what we are prepared and conditioned to see. I expect someone who has lived a very good life, who has spent their entire life close to the heart of the church and has had the Holy Spirit as a true guide throughout their life, will have very little need for some of the kinds of art that showed me the nature of evil and where I unfortunately stood in relation to it. Whether it is harmful or not to them, it is certainly unnecessary – I think.

    Ultimately, I think we live in an R-rated world, and we don’t have the option to cloister ourselves away. So that what we _are_, deeply, will be much more final than what we _see._ And to be this thing we need to be is the product of deep gospel living: as in faith, repentance, living immersed in the Spirit, and enduring.

    Re: pornography and having a mind never the same. I can attest, as someone not only deeply addicted to porn but to the sex industry in general, that one can be made _more pure_ through long experience in the Spirit. It isn’t that the images leave your mind, completely,- though they stop pressing themselves on you,- as it is that you view them from a new perspective. This is a long road. I like what is says concerning the Sons of Mosiah, that they came to a point that they couldn’t view sin save it be with abhorrence. That may only be possible for someone who had been in love with particular sins, and had come to see them with some clarity.

    ~

  59. Steve Evans says:

    Jacob, just so — can we PLEASE get to the real heart of the topic, which is how T&S and Kathryn Soper are EVIL? Thank you.

  60. Steve Evans says:

    Thomas, Mulholland Drive ruled. That freaky dude outside the diner? Awesome.

  61. Not that I complately agree with his position here, but grammatically speaking, Pres. Benson’s instruction not to see R-rated movies is unqualified. Those are independent clauses with distinct verbs. i.e.:

    (Don’t see (R-rated movies OR vulgar videos)) OR
    (participate in any entertainment that is (immoral, suggestive, OR pornographic))

  62. Thomas Parkin says:

    Yeah, Steve,

    The Club Silencio scene is my favorite bit in a movie full of great bits.

    But recommend it to me mum? Um … no.

    ~

  63. Kevin Barney says:

    I love movies and see a lot of them. My solution is to just ignore ratings. I’ll see just about anything if the film otherwise appeals to me. In my mission we had a saying: “Elder, you need to sear your conscience with a hot iron.” I did that a long time ago vis-a-vis movies. I must be desensitized, because I’m not shocked or sickened by most movie violence (although I don’t care for horror films and wouldn’t see something like Saw).

    If the church ever really tells me I can’t see Pan’s Labyrinth or Munich or Last of the Mohicans or Bourne Ultimatum, then I’ll know the prophet has finally led us astray and we are in apostasy as a people. (g)

  64. Kevin, I can’t tell if you’re kidding but having your “conscience seared with a hot iron” is supposed to be a bad thing.

    gst, the reason you threw up several times in the Matrix is that you are an agent, and you can’t get the stink of humans out of your nose!

    As for the Lamaze class thing, I fell off my chair laughing.

  65. Kevin – 61 – Bourne Ultimatum is pg-13 somehow. A more violent pg-13 would be hard to find. That said, I loved it.

    Adam – 4 – No, it wouldn’t be a hard argument to make. I can’t think of a single one that I’ve seen that didn’t have some sort of gratuitous violence, sex, or terrible language. I mean, do we really need to see Jesus whipped 50 thousand times? Is it really helpfull to our spirituality to see Naomi Watts and that other really hot chick get naked and have sex with each other?

    And yeah, I’ve seen most of the movies that have been mentioned in this post. I really wish that I hadn’t. I think I would be better off spiritually.

  66. Questions... says:

    Kevin,

    To follow-up on your statement (which I realize is partly tongue-in-cheek):

    “If the church ever really tells me I can’t see Pan’s Labyrinth…”

    It is my impression that a significant number of faithful members feel that the church has already done this, and you can easily find many statements from GA’s in official Church publications which advise against seeing R-rated movies. Granted, this is not at the level of a canonical ‘commandment’ but it is still seen as a quasi-commandment in the general sense that members are strongly advised to “Follow the Brethren” and because statements like these are typically viewed as expressions of modern-day revelation for our time.

    I no longer see things this way, but I am curious how you view your stance in this context.

    Thanks.

  67. Ronan, for a really good expose of the ratings system and ratings board in the States watch the documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated. I recommend it to ANYONE especially the people on this thread :)

    And Pans Labryinth is probably one of the best most beautiful movies to come out in several years. Finish it, please!

  68. Steve M.,

    #31,

    I don’t think the filmmaker intended that we “like” the violence in Schindler’s List; we’re supposed to be repulsed by it.

    Given the strong anti-violence message that this and certain other films send (albeit sometimes through graphic imagery), it raises the question of whether they ought to be considered “immoral, suggestive, or pornographic.”

    I know what Steven Spielberg intended, but I believe that Schindler’s List is probably one of the worst kinds of movies to watch because we justify accepting the visualization of that violence because of its supposed historical value. The problem is that we’re not actually repulsed by that violence, else we would only watch that movie once, and not ever give it a repeat viewing. What’s the point of watching something “repulsive” on a continuing basis? We’re actually fascinated by that repulsive violence. We’re curious creatures, we humans. We’re fascinated by repulsion. Watching a movie like Schindler’s List doesn’t increase our aversion to violence. Rather, it decreases it on a far greater level because of that historical justification.

    We really don’t need to see the actual visceral palpable violence to know and to always remember the evils of Nazism.

  69. Kevin Barney says:

    I realize that most Mormons think there are standing prophetic orders not to see an R-rated movie under any circumstances whatsoever. I just disagree that that is the case. And if it is the case, then I just disregard those orders, because I think they’re silly if they really exist–which I don’t think they do.

    I have a friend who is an officer in the national guard whose wife won’t let him see Full Metal Jacket because it’s rated R. In my view, if someone is prepared to die for our country, he at least ought to be able to see Full Metal Jacket.

    I know, I know, I’m going to hell. No news there.

  70. “Do we really need to see Jesus whipped 50 thousand times?”

    Depends what you mean by “need.” Do I really need to see The Lamb of God video? Do I really need to see the Luke 2 video to understand the Mary went to Bethlehem? I don’t suppose I need to see any of those movies. However, those movies might very well increase my spirituality, draw me closer to Christ, help me internalize the reality of those events, more fully appreciate Jesus and Mary and Joseph. Thus, the “do we really need” question is a red herring. As I said, Moroni gave us a much more helpful standard to apply.

  71. Jacob -63-

    You’ve asserted that the R-rated movies you’ve seen fit Pres. Benson’s qualifiers. But unless you’re willing to either see every R-rated movie or surrender your moral standards to the MPAA, then it would be very difficult to say that all R-rated movies are immoral, suggestive and pornographic.

  72. On my mission, our area president spoke to us about choice & accountability, etc. He said years ago the prophet said nobody should see rated0R movies. He then said something interesting. He commented that he thinks the Prophet may have regretted saying that because the membership did not hear “No rated-R movies” they heard a resounding “Yes” to everything else.

    RE: Austin Powers.

    Very funny movie. But I don’t want my teenage boy laughing about a penis-enlarger with all of his friends at school the next day. I’d rather him discussing Shawshank Redemption, etc. Wholly idealistic, I realize.

  73. John Mansfield says:

    I’m skeptical about the discerning consumption of R-rated movie viewers, but I could be wrong. Is there is anyone who takes in one R-rated movie every year or so and no more? In other words, I think “Schindler’s List”, “Saving Private Ryan”, and “The Passion” are a smokescreen in discussions of this sort.

  74. You have a point John. I have a hard time justifying to my wife why I need to see the latest Apatow movie. But the point is that non R-rated watchers classify all R-Rated movies the same way. Passion of the Christ is equal to 9 1/2 Weeks because they both have an R rating.

  75. cj douglass says:

    I was watching “Blood Diamond” recently. Very “R”. The violence is pretty disturbing. And ofcourse when people are presented with horrible circumstances in the real world. “F bombs” are going to be flyin. A friend of mine argued that it was necessary to tell the horrible story of the African diamond trade – to get people to really see what its like. I tend to agree. But I also agree with Susan and others. When we look to Hollywood as our first source of news and information- that’s a problem. i.e. I’ve been many times to the Holocoust Museum in DC – I learned and understood plenty the horrors of that experience and never had to see Schindlers List.

  76. And I find it surprising how comfortable Church leaders are to outsource a major piece of counsel to a quasi-political organization like the MPAA.

    I suspect this is a major reason for discontinuing the counsel against R-rated films.

    It has been very clear to me that the MPAA rulings are NOT consistent with LDS morality and is not particularly consistent or neutral in the criteria for ratings–they are more favorable to big-studio-sponsored films than indies, ever since the kerfuffle over the rating of SAINTS AND SOLDIERS.

    I honestly don’t believe that original R-rated version of that film was less moral than the PG-13 version they finally got approved.

  77. cj douglass says:

    Also, I wonder how we really use discretion when watching movies. Sounds like a gamble to me. I’m not shelling out 10 bucks if there’s a possibility walk out of a movie half way through. We talk about being able to handle certain movies. What if the Holy Ghost can’t handle it?

  78. You left out the next sentence.

    “Rated R movies are part of a communist plot to overthrow the west.”

  79. At a recent Stake Conference, our SP said that we needed to rethink the things we were viewing in the media, and brought up the R-rated movie “ban.” For a second, I thought he was going to say it wasn’t important what the rating was. He went the other way and said PG-13 movies were inappropriate as well. Got fairly worked up about it.

    I guess I understand this attitude, but maybe it’s a higher law I’m not ready to live.

  80. Tim,
    You mean Knocked Up, widely regarded as the most conservative, pro-family movie in years.

    I’m serious.

  81. I second the suggestion by #65–everyone should see “This Film is Not Yet Rated” before you form any opinion on movie ratings. The ratings are completely arbitrary, especially when it comes down to the difference between R and PG-13. If you’re one of those people who think you’ll be eternally damned for seeing an R-rated movie–Please read a synopsis of the film. While I don’t agree with all of the film maker’s arguments, many of them are spot on.

  82. Interesting you mention that movie, Ronan. I had a conversation with several member of the Church who were using that movie as an example of how movies are taking civilization down the toilet (they hadn’t seen it).

    It’s a great example of how a movie’s image can be completely different from it’s message. Some will never get to the message part.

  83. The ironic thing about “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” is that the MPAA, which is trashed by the movie, gave it an NC-17 rating. Hilarious.

  84. Steve Evans says:

    Knocked Up was an hilarious movie with foul language. Its message was as Ronan says — conservative and pro-family all the way.

  85. Did anyone mention the “it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant” thing yet?

    D&C 58, y’all.

  86. Re: Dan, #66

    I know what Steven Spielberg intended, but I believe that Schindler’s List is probably one of the worst kinds of movies to watch because we justify accepting the visualization of that violence because of its supposed historical value…. Watching a movie like Schindler’s List doesn’t increase our aversion to violence. Rather, it decreases it on a far greater level because of that historical justification.

    I would disagree. I don’t believe that viewing visual depictions of violent or disturbing acts is inherently bad, or that such depictions universally dull our sensitivity to violence or make us more accepting of it.

    That assertion may seem rather bold, but in my experience, certain depictions of violence have actually managed to increase my aversion to it, primarily because of the manner and context in which is was portrayed and the emotions it stirred. While I do agree that gratuitous or stylized displays of violence are likely to have a detrimental effect on our sensitivity, depictions such as those in Schindler’s List highlight the tragedy and brutality of it. The depiction is intended to be shocking and disturbing, because that’s precisely what violence is. The graphic nature of the depiction plays upon the sensitivity and humanity that the viewer is expected to already possess. Rather than wear that sensitivity down, the film may manage to sharpen it.

    Of course, if a film is excessive or gratuitous in its display of violence, then I believe it may undermine any anti-violence message that it might otherwise hope to convey. This seems to be a common criticism of Richard Dutcher’s latest work, Fallen (which I have not yet seen).

    Everyone should exercise moderation and discretion over their own media choices. I can’t imagine watching films like Schindler’s List on a very regular basis. While I may appreciate the power of the film (which, in my opinion, would be diminished if Spielberg were more cautious), I don’t particularly like watching brutality on a regular basis. It’s depressing (as it should be).

  87. McQ and Ronan – Those are interesting comments. I haven’t seen the movie because 1. I assumed it would be tasteless sexual humor and 2. I assumed it would be childish, sophomoric and stupid. These assumptions came to me because of the title “Knocked-up”, a term I havn’t used or heard since the 70’s. What do you think the producers were thinking when they titled the movie?

  88. Sorry – I meant Ronan and Steve

  89. Re: LifeOnaPlate (#83),

    Has anyone else noticed how frequently D&C 58 pops up in discussions about quasi-commandments or widely followed LDS cultural norms?

    While the scripture does make it clear that we should not limit our righteousness to what’s explicitly spelled out in the commandments, I don’t think that every quasi-commandment (not watching R-rated movies, not drinking Coke, etc.) falls within the realm of what D&C 58 was meant to address.

  90. My goodness.

    Can we PLEASE get to the real heart of the topic, which is how T&S and Kathryn Soper are EVIL?

    Put your running shoes where your mouth is, buddy. :)

    Thomas, Mulholland Drive ruled. That freaky dude outside the diner? Awesome.

    Not to mention, the hot naked lesbians.

  91. As an R-rated movie watcher, I have used the MPAA card as an easy justification for my decisions. But if we’re being honest with each other, the argument is pretty weak. To briefly summarize the main issues (and oversimplify, I know): The movie industry (directors, producers, etc.) have two big problems with the MPAA. (1) There is a double standard for big studios vs. independent studios; (ie. big studios can put more sex and violence and get a lower rating than small studios) and (2) they all think more sex should be allowed in R-rated movies before it becomes NC-17 (ie, you can put a lot more violence in an R-rated movie than sex and the industry thinks it should be the other way around.) There is little concern on the PG-13 v. R rating, which really is the focus of this thread.

    On a personal note, though I see lots of R-rated movies, I refused to see “Passion of the Christ” because to me, that event is too sacred and I don’t want Mel Gibson’s depiction of it in my head. I have nothing against Mel, but yes, those images can stay with you, and I don’t want to give him that power with the single most important event in the history of the world.

    Tim J, I heard the same thing from a general authority a few years ago: That the reason they’ve backed off the “R-rated” stance is because too many people saw it as an endorsement of all things “PG-13.”

    Lastly, Shawshank Redemption is one of the greatest, if not the greatest film ever made. But I will not be watching it with my children, no matter how uplifting I think it is. The F-word is used constantly throughout. And that’s where I sort of side with Pres. Benson. I think it’s much easier for me, at my age, to be exposed to such language and have no concern over picking it up. I would not be so confident with my children’s ability. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite, I don’t know.

    I hope that someday I will progress spiritually to a point where I am able to use a much simpler standard: Can I keep the companionship of the Holy Ghost while watching ___? Maybe right now I don’t have that companionship enough to notice the loss of it during a good movie.

  92. Steve Evans says:

    Kaimi, I was too busy focusing on the THEMES.

    Lamonte, those are pretty big assumptions to draw just from the title!

  93. Art is so individually perceived. For example, I seem to have had a very different perception of Schindler’s List than have some of you. Having a low tolerance for violence and cruelty, I drove past Dachau and walked past the new Holocaust museum. But Schindler was less about the holocaust and more about Schindler, a man of complex motivations–was it profit or courageous character-driven risk-taking? How much of either? As I said in a Dialogue essay in the Summer 2003 issue, Righeousness Express: Riding the PG&R, most of the films I want to see expand my understanding of the human condition and its promise. Not simply what is. We could wallow in that. But in “what is” presented in such a way that I sense what is right and what could be better. The rating system is almost useless in helping me select those films.

  94. When I stopped watching rated R movies, people would say things to me like, “You HAVE to see this movie!” As if I would be horribly deprived if I missed out on it.

    Yup. I just think, “It’s just a movie.

  95. What, hot naked lesbians aren’t a theme?

    Bill: Come on, Ted, this is a history report, not a babe report.
    Ted: But, Bill, those are historical babes.

  96. #89:

    I have nothing against Mel

    Really? Nothing? Can’t think of a thing?

  97. GST,

    Correction: I should have said my decision to not see the movie has nothing to do with my opinion of Mel’s personal views.

  98. But the point is that non R-rated watchers classify all R-Rated movies the same way. Passion of the Christ is equal to 9 1/2 Weeks because they both have an R rating.

    I like how you’re classifying all non R-rated watchers in one sweeping generalization. :)

    The thing about movies is that a person’s reaction to them can be so individual. I know what to stay away from, for me personally—violence, swearing, and nudity/sex. The three things that will make a movie rated R. I don’t care what other people watch. I just find it irritating that so many people think everyone else is going to have the same reaction they will to a film.

    BTW, I own Passion of the Christ on DVD and love it. It has a lot of what I love in a movie—symbolism galore. The scene where Christ hefts up the cross after stumbling with it and says, “See Mother, I make all things new” is probably one of my favorite movie scenes, ever.

  99. cj douglass says:

    gst,
    You’re talking about Mel’s hatred of the British right?

  100. This is my last comment on the topic, in two parts, and I trust it will put this entire firestorm to rest.

    1. The Shawshank Redemption was a worthless movie, pure sentimental crap.

    2. I’d rather get hit in the eye with a racquetball than see another movie featuring Doris Day.

    Thank you everyone. Have a nice long weekend.

  101. Steve Evans says:

    wait….. what about The Man Who Knew Too Much? That’s a good one, gst.

  102. I didn’t see much sentimental about Shawshank, gst. It is a prison movie, after all. Maybe all prison movies are sentimental to you. Bring back fond memories maybe? The Green Mile was a prison movie that was sentimental. Maybe that’s what you meant. There’s nothing particularly sentimental about: “Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin'” is there?

  103. John Mansfield says:

    gst, que sera sera.

  104. Not to mention that the last movie I saw in a theater, BECOMING JANE, was rated PG despite having a scene of oral sex in the first few minutes of the film…

  105. Susan (#46)–I was at the time a graduate student in German Studies; I had to be able to discuss the film.

  106. Tim (#81), it wasn’t especially ironic that it was given an NC-17. The film includes scenes from several NC-17 movies to illustrate what it takes to get an NC-17 rating. If you’re into math, there is an argument from transitivity that could be brought to bear here.

    Joe (#89), you didn’t watch The Lamb of God for the same reasons, right?

    Susan M (#96), that line is amazingly powerful.

  107. Gone for less than a day and I come back to this – 104 comments? Wow, Steve, I haven’t read the comments yet, but – DANG!

  108. So those of you who simply use the letter ratings to guide your media choices, what do you do when it comes to the many television shows that are available for viewing?

    Do you not watch any, since you can’t be sure? Do you read reviews? Or what?

    Because I gotta say that other countries show things on their tellies that would not have run during prime time in the states, or be slapped with an R rating if they were to play in an American theater. In Brasil, the telenovellas frequently featured full female frontal nudity, and they even showed them in promos that ran at dinner time. The BBC productions of MOLL FLANDERS and THE CAMBRIDGE SPIES would not get a PG-13 rating in American theaters.

  109. I just want to say that THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED is a horrible documentary in my opinion.

    The film made me grateful that we have the MPAA, which was the exact opposite effect than the filmmakers intended.

    It consists primarily of fairly whiny independent filmmakers complaining why extremely graphic scenes of sex prevented their films from receiving less restrictive ratings, followed by the scenes themselves, which were, as you might imagine, extremely graphic and not appropriate for anyone under 17.

    Meanwhile, on their crusade for justice, the filmmakers stake out the employees of the MPAA, follow them home, and dig through their trash, which struck me as a bit of an invasion of their privacy.

    It’s far from an insightful examination of censorship or rating issues.

    The MPAA does exactly what it was always intended to do. It gives parents rough and admittedly imperfect guidelines by which to make viewing decisions, and it frees up filmmakers to explore darker and more adult subject matter by putting a rating on a film that absolves them from responsibility.

  110. Jacob,
    No one ever described The Lamb of God as extremely graphic. I suppose if someone did, I would probably avoid seeing it.

    Another way one can spin the “ratings” standard is that most director’s cuts released on DVD are “NR”, meaning that with the new footage, the film has no official rating. So none of those are off limits, right?

  111. As long as you happen to have the exact same morals as those few people making the decisions in the MPAA, eh Brian G.?

    The movie points out how big of a divide the MPAA seems to have between scenes of graphic violence, and scenes of graphic sexuality. So if you’re a parent that knows your child will go to hell if they see a breast, but will remain righteous after seeing people filled with bullets, the MPAA ratings are the perfect way to help you make your decisions.

    Also the movie points out how many of the MPAA members either have never had children, or haven’t had children in many, many years. How many of you listen to parenting advice from your single friends?

    The MPAA is deeply flawed. When I make my decisions I choose to actually find out what is in the movie, determine if the subject matter is something my child should see, then go from there. The ratings system is easily worked by filmmakers, and has many problems that make it totally useless.

    If I sat any of you down to watch ten films you’d never seen, I doubt any of you could correctly guess what ratings those films would receive from the MPAA.

  112. I just wanted to point out that Adam made a brilliant comment reminding you all that President Benson was a prophet when he made these comments, and should not be treated like chopped liver. That comment has mysteriously vanished. Coincidence?

  113. Adam Greenwood says:

    I think chopped liver is probably too graphic for a good LDS blog, ne c’est pas, mon frere?

  114. Adam Greenwood says:

    Naked chopped liver.

  115. Adam Greenwood says:

    Becoming Jane was rated PG despite having a scene of oral sex in the first few minutes of the film . . .

    Whoa, no, really? We were going to see that tonight. Are you serious?

  116. jjohnsen,

    I would contend that finding violence less objectionable than sex is a culture-wide phenomenon in the U.S. and the MPAA ratings only reflect that. They do not cause it.

    I feel that it is within the capacity of single people to make judgments about what is good for children. When I was single I was savvy enough to know that every scene used as an example in THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED is inappropriate for kids, teens, and honestly, probably adults.

    I bet I could guess with about 80% accuracy what the MPAA ratings were if I were to take your hypothetical test, assuming that the films were randomly selected.

    However, that’s beside the point. The MPAA was formed to protect the film industry from federally dictated censorship, and in that regard it has succeeded, and has led to more freedom among filmmakers–the complaints of a minority of indie filmakers with tastes and interests outside of the commercial and cultural mainstream being a possible exception. If the MPAA is a failure it is because it’s too permissive, not because it’s too restrictive.

    Critics of the MPAA and the film THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED itself fail, by in large, to offer ideas for a better system.

  117. Peter LLC says:

    #73:

    When we look to Hollywood as our first source of news and information- that’s a problem. i.e. I’ve been many times to the Holocoust Museum in DC – I learned and understood plenty the horrors of that experience and never had to see Schindlers List.

    Brother Douglass, I’ve seen the movie, read numerous books, been to the DC museum and visited Dachau, Mauthausen, Auschwitz and other camps and I’m here to testify that there is no unvarnished truth to be found in any of them. The story is always presented in some way or another. At the same time, I believe all contribute something to an understanding of that great evil.

  118. As my last comment was dethroned (ie. removed, probably due to a mistatement made by myself) I feel a need to restate part of what I said. For me, the spiritual cost of watching the rated R movies outweighed any benefit that have given me. Some of them were rated R only for violence and language and had very uplifting messages. At the same time, not following the advise of the General Authorities carries with it a price. I won’t go into specifics as to what that price was, but it was there.

    I will also say that I have no idea how long my determination will last. No Country For Old Men is coming out soon, and I loved the book, so feel free for calling me a hypocrite. :)

  119. Critics of the MPAA and the film THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED itself fail, by in large, to offer ideas for a better system.

    Here’s a betters system. List what is objectionable in the movie, Violence, Extreme Violence, Sex Talk, Sexual Intercourse, Sh*t, D*mn, F**k, Blood, Decapitation, Yuppies, Animal Torture, Homosexuality, Kissing, etc, etc, etc.

    Then you decide by content whether you will see it or not. Ignore the R, PG, or G that mean absolutely nothing. Even though they do this on a simpler scale, people still rely on the rating. I know many people that won’t watch R movies that went to see the PG13 Live Free or Die Hard. The only difference I could see between it and it’s R-rated versions was less use F-word. I’d actually consider it more violent than Die Hard 1 or 3. Did the system work because it didn’t force us to listen to people swear while they strangled and shot people?

  120. So, who deleted Adam’s comment? I thought it was rather cryptic and argumentative, but not deletion-worthy.

  121. Adam: Becoming Jane is rated PG. Here is a guide that says it’s ok for ages 8 and up.

  122. fwiw, whenever a President of the Church makes a pronouncement like this one I have trained myself to do three things automatically.

    1) Look at the audience and the counsel to see if there is anything that should lead me to believe that the pronouncement is meant for those who are not the actual audience. As all of you know, I parse by nature – because I believe that over-generalizing and over-applying teachings is just as bad as under-applying them.

    In this case, Pres. Benson said *explicitly* that he was addressing the “young men” – and he never implied that it was meant for everyone. I understand the general counsel (“avoid things that are vulgar, immoral, suggestive or pornographic”) to be applicable to all, but I believe the counsel that included avoiding R-rated movies was directed at the youth – and technically at the young men.

    2) Try to understand why the counsel was given, especially if it was given in a different time than my own.

    I know 21 years ago doesn’t seem like a different time than now to many, but it was in many real ways. At that time, in general, an R-rating actually was a very different standard than it is now. MANY movies that were rated R in 1986 would be middle-of-the-road PG-13 now. Due to that fact, I see Pres. Benson’s counsel as prophetic – in the sense that he was describing the rating system as it was becoming or would become, not necessarily as it was at that time or in the past. Seriously, folks, what rating do you think “Kill Bill” or “Basic Instinct” would have received in the 50’s?

    3) Try to understand how the counsel is “good” or “correct” or “pertinent to salvation”.

    I have no problem whatsoever understanding how young men (ages 12-18, in this context) avoiding R-rated movies is a good and correct thing, or how it is pertinent to their salvation. Absolutely no problem whatsoever.

    I do not experience a “burning in my bosom” much, but many members (including leaders) have assumed that the Lord’s comment to Oliver Cowdery just MUST apply to everyone. Similarly, many have assumed that Pres. Benson’s counsel to the young men just MUST apply to everyone. I wish we would stop doing that.

  123. jjohnsen,
    More important than how many times the F-word was used is whether it was used as an adjective or a verb. Oddly, I’m unable to get my Bishop to change his youth interviews to accomodate this critical question.

  124. I saw Die Free and Live Hard. At the dollar theater. No way I’d pay $10 for that crap. But it was fun. The violence was so over the top it was ridiculous. I don’t have any trouble with cartoony, shoot-em-up, exploding-things violence. I have trouble with graphic, gory violence, (because I carry those images around in my head–they pop out at me when I’m getting a drink of water in the dark in the middle of the night). And swearing. And sex/nudity. Any one of which will get an R rating.

    I bet you’d be hard put to show me a R-rated movie that I didn’t realize was rated R. You can probably show me many PG-13 movies that I would guess to be rated R. I tend to stay away from a lot of PG 13 movies, too. Comedies, mostly, because they’re always so nasty.

    I really should just stop talking about movies.

  125. The violence in Live Free Die Hard should have been rated R for stupidity. I mean really, jumping from an exploding, hovering jet onto the freeway?

  126. I would like to point out that even in the quote itself, Pres. Bensen is giving it as advice. That said, I’m including myself into the group that thinks his advice is good. What on earth is wrong about not seeing a rated R movie?

    And adam, please give me an example of an R movie that you didn’t feel had any gratuitous violence, sex, or language?

  127. Steve Evans says:

    Jacob M, in the context of film-making, the term “gratuitous” is fluid. Films themselves may be viewed as gratuitous, in that the world does not depend upon their existence. If, on the other hand, you deem gratuitous to relate to the filmmaker’s vision or statement, gratuitous is a pretty stringent standard. So what do you mean by gratuitous? In relation to what?

  128. Good question Steve! I don’t have an answer for you. I’d say carried to an inappropriate level, but, then again, what does inappropriate mean? It’s impossible to define 100%. So as a general guide, I’ll stick with the profits advice . . . usually! (Since I’ve already seen the vast majority of the movies mentioned throughout the post, I can’t exactly come off as Mr. Righteous here!) :)

  129. And adam, please give me an example of an R movie that you didn’t feel had any gratuitous violence, sex, or language?

    The remake of “The Manchurian Candidate”.

    I believe it only had one F-word, and had VERY little blood. I would say what did it was the drowning of the woman in the lake, but, again, I’ve seen worse in a lot of PG-13 movies.

    Another point is that a director can specifically ask that his movie be given an R rating regardless of content so that it automatically appeals to a more mature audience.

  130. Johannes Climacus says:

    I can assure you, with upmost certainty, that if President Benson understood that movies featuring ‘hot naked lesbians” would ever be branded with an “R” rating, he never would have set forth the prohibition.

  131. jjohnsen,

    As you point out the MPAA does provide brief content descriptions. There are also movie reviews, various websites, and word of mouth. I think the MPAA is one of many tools viewers should use to make viewing choices. I think it should properly be viewed as such, and that the more tools viewers use the better. It’s not perfect, but the MPAA rating system gives you a rough idea of what to expect when you see a film.

    The example you cite of LIVE FREE AND DIE HARD was well-publicized. The real test of whether the system failed was whether people went to it and were shocked, appalled, and surprised by what they saw. I imagine that for the most part they weren’t. It is the fourth movie in a hugely successful action and violence-filled franchise, the catch phrase of which involves an expletive, and was widely used to market the film.

  132. The remake is a very good example. Was there really only one F-word? My guess it’s got two or three. Also, the shooting of the soldier in the head was very jarring. And then there’s the scene where Denzel’s talking to the woman and you see a bullet hole in her head as she’s talking. (Which I thought worked really well, violence aside) You combine those elements, and the two removal-of-implant scenes, you realize why they rated it R. (That, and the whole creepy mother/son thing. Yuck!!)

  133. Johannes Climacus says:

    Live Free or Die Hard sucked. It’s an embarrassment to the other Die Hard movies. I should have known it was going to suck; it wasn’t rated R.

  134. The violence in Live Free Die Hard should have been rated R for stupidity. I mean really, jumping from an exploding, hovering jet onto the freeway?

    Exactly. That’s entertainment!

  135. 1. As a teenager, we had a high councilor recommend we watch Platoon with our parents (he was a ‘nam vet). I didn’t.

    2. One of my neighbors insists Schindler’s List is really just a fictional work, because, you know, *it* never happened.

    3. Bill Simmons says that the ultimate test of a potential girlfriend is to ask her to watch “Field of Dreams”. If she doesn’t get it or doesn’t like it, you should dump her.

    These days, I spent more hours with Hannah Montana and Zack and Cody than I do at the theaters.

  136. Was there really only one F-word?

    I’m almost certain. And it was uttered by Meryl Streep’s character no less.

    I don’t think it was the violence that did it, but rather the overall tone of the film. Hard to explain I guess.

  137. Joe (#110),

    Your original reasoning (now in #91) was that the event is too sacred and you don’t want to let someone else put images in your head depicting it, not that the Passion of the Christ was too graphic. I was wondering if you applied the original argument to The Lamb of God or not.

  138. queuno: Dude, I feel your pain. Now that I know the lyrics to every Hannah Montana and Ally & AJ song and can sing along (and dance) to High School Musical (1&2), I really couldn’t care less what I watch when I go to a theater. I just want something that my kids aren’t demanding to see or that I can legitimately ban them from seeing. R-rating? Sounds soooooo good.

  139. whoinventedfreeride says:

    With all due respect to President Benson, before he became the prophet he was a very outspoken right-wing political fanatic. A lot of his public rhetoric was filled with red-baiting, and by all things considered, he was the public epitome of the ideal 1950’s “yes-man.” Even though he toned down his political ideals a bit once he became prophet, due to his background, I think most of what he said–before and after becoming the prophet–should be taken with a lot of salt. Sure, one could argue, that one’s life would be far better for never having seen any “R” rated movies. Wrong. Often times, “R” rated movies represent a normative view of what our lives are really about. Certain movies, like war movies, need to be rated R if they are going to be real depictions of what war is like. If someone doesn’t want to see a particular movie, then fine, don’t see it. But I sure hope they don’t see a movie they otherwise would based on what a really old, ultra-conservative church leader once said.

    There are other problems with blindly following such advice (like categorically not watching rated R movies). Has anyone noticed that there’s quite the dearth of prominent LDS artists and authors? Rated R movies are shocking for a reason. Art is supposed to shock the viewer; it’s supposed to jostle the world view and help people see things in a different way. It’s part of the aesthetic. Read Heidegger’s essay on Art. With counsel like Benson’s, there’s a strong tendency to throw all art out with the bath water if one deems it by any means “shocking.”

    And for what it’s worth, Greg Olsen is not an artist. Most of what he does is nothing more that textbook kitsch. Total trash. Maybe if more LDS members saw credible R rated movies we wouldn’t have such an embarrassing piece of motion picture kitsch playing at the Legacy Theater; The Testaments.

    -Who

  140. Who: Now that we know how you feel about Pres. Benson, would you care to elaborate on how you feel about what he actually said in the quote that Steve posted – not what others have said over the years about it, but what he actually said?

  141. whoinventedfreeride says:

    Ray,

    He said that people shouldn’t watch rated R movies. What a terrible thing to say. People should define themselves by what they do, not what they do not. A lot of Mormons have a hard time with this one. They choose to define themselves by what they don’t do, instead of defining themselves as being Christian.

  142. I really have enjoyed this thread thus far – very much, and I would hate to see it get stale or devolve into discussions of ETB’s political views.

    There are any number of ways that this thread still can go – quite a number of topics that can be discussed. (Gospel-related meaning of vulgar, immoral, suggestive and/or pornographic; difference between a standard for youth vs. adults; why this was presented specifically to the young men; the legitimacy of the MPAA rating system at the time that the quote was given; how to apply the spirit of the quote to our own time, given the new MPAA rating system that includes PG-13; a comparison of the TV rating system and how that would impact the quote; etc. – and the hilarious side comments that I love so much in any thread) Some of these have been addressed to various degrees, but some have not been discussed at all.

  143. Who:

    1) No, he didn’t.

    2) Yes, they do, but that is in NO way exclusive to Mormons – or even Christians.

  144. 3) Almost every Mormon I know (active, less-active and totally inactive) defines himself and herself by how they believe they are being Christian. To your gross misrepresentation, “What a terrible thing to say.”

  145. whoinventedfreeride says:

    Ray,

    All I’m trying to really say, is this; statements like Benson’s do more damage than good. Such statements, end their far reaching effects, continue to cultivated the wide spread insularity problem found among many members in the church.

    And ray, I’m sorry that you work at the Gap for 6.00 an hour.

  146. 1) We disagree completely on the first one. The way other people take a statement like this and turn it into something that he didn’t say – I agree that does harm. However, the statement itself, IMO, is not harmful in any way.

    2) I don’t understand your last sentence at all. I hope it was a wrong-headed, failed attempt at humor, but I simply don’t know.

  147. whoinventedfreeride says:

    Ray,

    Please illuminate me,

    you seem to say that Pres. Benson never said not watch rated R movies. That’s what this whole post is discussing. You seem to indicate that he never said such a statement. Please explain,

    love,
    -Who

  148. Who, I already have – in what I thought was a carefully worded comment – actually one of the longer ones in this thread. I won’t repeat it, since it was long enough on its own. Others have said much the same thing, albeit more concisely, so it’s not just me.

    As unsolicited advice that is not meant to be as condescending as it probably will sound, it is a good idea to read every comment in a thread prior to adding one’s own. It saves redundancy – as well as moments like this when someone comes across as ignorant of what others have said.

  149. everyone else, I apologize for somehow contributing to turning this thread in a direction I said I did not want it to go. (#142)

  150. whoinventedfreeride says:

    Ray,

    Your ignorance never ceases to amaze me. Yes, I read your thread earlier about how you try to articulate what Benson said doesn’t really mean what he said. Such comments are totally absurd.

    love,

    -Who

  151. OK.

  152. And adam, please give me an example of an R movie that you didn’t feel had any gratuitous violence, sex, or language?

    The first Matrix off the top of my head. But to be honest, I really haven’t seen that many R-rated movies. And as we’ve discovered, the standards for gratuitous violence, sexuality and pornography are subjective. Which is one of the reasons that I’m hesitant to defer my moral standards to an arbitrary group of people in the MPAA. I don’t categorically restrict myself from one set of movies. I read about them and then decide if it’s something I want to see.

  153. Eric Russell says:

    Everyone is missing the point of Schindler’s List. It’s not about the Holocaust much more than Les Miserables is about a Parisian uprising. One might watch it repeatedly, not for its history, but for its story. The moral transfiguration of Oskar Schindler is one of the most compelling ever put to film.

    “if someone is prepared to die for our country, he at least ought to be able to see Full Metal Jacket.”

    Or at least so he understands that his buddies are joking when they yell, “yeah, get some!” as they’re letting it rip on the machine gun in training.

  154. Becoming Jane was rated PG despite having a scene of oral sex in the first few minutes of the film . . .

    Whoa, no, really? We were going to see that tonight. Are you serious?

    It’s a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it.

    But yes, there is a brief scene when Austen’s parents are discussing perfection in marriage, he takes it as a challenge and dives under the sheets, and she smiles blissfully.

    It’s a very controversial scene among Austenites, who found it quite out of character.

    Maybe someone can come up with an Alternative Mormon Interpretation of it NOT being oral sex.

    Here’s another parent-focused rating system which I consult as one of several places before deciding to see a film.

    Playing with their system, it’s clear that the R-rated ONCE has a 2.1.7 rating, so much lower overall than many PG-13 films (but it’s an indie production).

  155. Eric Russell says:

    And adam, please give me an example of an R movie that you didn’t feel had any gratuitous violence, sex, or language?

    How about a movie with no violence, sex or language of any kind? Vera Drake. A G movie that got an R solely for thematic content – specifically, a sympathetic portrayal of abortion. Thematic R’s are rare, but it happens.

  156. Kevin Barney says:

    I enjoyed Becoming Jane, which is controversial among Austenites for lots of reasons. But I don’t even remember the “oral sex” scene. So I guess there’s an advantage to being desensitized!

  157. Aaron Brown says:

    Haven’t read the comments.

    I long for the day that LDS members will stop fetishizing the MPAA and/or the letter “R” when attached to a film. It’s downright cultish.

    President Benson’s comment has taken on a life greater than what was ever intended, I suspect. If current Church leaders wanted the membership to embrace an unambiguous “no R-rated movie” rule, they could easily tell us so. They do have a monopoly on conference addresses, after all, and are capable of being unambiguous when they want to be. I suspect they don’t because they don’t want to definitively embrace such a rule. And who can blame them?

    Blah, blah, blah.

    Aaron B

  158. I think that directing this counsel to the young men was very appropriate. My husband and I started to watch Battlestar Galactica on tv a while back and we eventually had to stop because of all the sex. But my husband wanted to stop watching it before I did. I think content like that has a more powerful effect on men and young men in particular.

    Also, there is a movie reviewer that I read all the time that is very helpful. http://www.decentfilms.com He rates movies based on artistic AND moral/spiritual value from a Catholic perspective. Very interesting and helpful.

    Who- You have described but one type of Art, Shock Art. I think that art of this kind will immediately fade away after it’s purpose has been served. The purpose of Art is to bring truth and beauty to all humanity. Art that only appeals to pretentious elitists can hardly be called art at all because it has failed in it’s primary objective: to speak to the masses.
    Perhaps I should have just left that one alone, but I couldn’t help it.

  159. Art is supposed to shock the viewer; it’s supposed to jostle the world view and help people see things in a different way. It’s part of the aesthetic.

    So Monet is a hack, right? And in the pantheon of Mormon artists, Minerva Teichart couldn’t clean your brushes, do I have that right?

    I think this argument was trounced already over on FMH.

  160. adam – that’s a good one. The first Matrix eventually became pg-13 on tv. It wasn’t all that violent, and had only a few s words. I remember when I watched that thinking, “Is this really rated R?” The second and third installments, sucked really bad, and I really wished I hadn’t seen them.

    Never seen Vera Drake. Can’t think of a movie theme I would rather not watch more than that one.

    Oh! Longest Day and Seargent York are two quality examples of war movies that weren’t rated R. You can actually shock people into awareness without graphic violence.

  161. Bottle Rocket
    Waiting for Guffman

  162. Thank you all for reminding me why it is worth stopping by this blog from time to time. It’s like watching a room full of bald people fight over a comb.

    I cannot conceive of a God I would wish to believe in – even one with infinite capacities – that has the spare time to prescribe arbitrary rules governing the watching of movies.

    With all that was going on in the world at that point in time, God had the time to tell a prophet to tell us how many f-bombs it was acceptable to be exposed to in one sitting? Really?

    It is hard for me to imagine something (or someone) of less relevance to the modern world.

  163. Kleermaker – this is the same God that has his Son tell all of us to not be angry at other people. And it’s not about the amount. Read the full quote again. He’s talking about not letting vulgarity into our lives, in any way.

    And if He (God) has time to notice the fall of a single sparrow. . . your argument doesn’t hold water. But thanks for playing.

    And I have lots of hair. Good night, and good luck.

  164. I’m coming to this discussion way late and I apologize. The Internet policy at work won’t allow any surfing at all.

    Regarding the non-punitive aspects of the R-rating counsel/commandment. This is generally true, however I know several stake presidents that have a nasty tendency to look beyond the mark and frequently ask youth if they watch R-rated movies, how often, when was the last one, etc… I had a bishop’s counselor ask me that during a temple recommend interview once, and I got up and walked out. I told him it was inappropriate to be asking me that, and that he should stick to the recommend questions. I waited until the bishop got back from vacation and got my recommend then.

    As to the content of movies, it’s amazing. I love dumb sex comedies and my wife loves war movies. We walk out of each other’s movies all the time because I have no stomach for violence and my wife can’t handle the nudity.

  165. Yet another rich and thought-provoking thread. Here’s my two cents’ worth:

    It’s important to consider (as this thread has been doing) whether shocking films eventually cause us to become blase about violence and even to develop a lust for it. The poet Wordsworth worried about that in the late 18th century, when weekly newsletters began to come from France, describing the violence of the revolution there. W. said if the public got in the habit of reading these reports, they would grow indifferent to the horrors described therein.

    Angela, as to art’s purpose being “to speak to the masses,” I agree; but that purpose is almost always achieved in an roundabout way. Great artists, whether writers, painters, musicians, film-makers, explore unknown territory. And at first, the “masses” are usually at a loss to know what the artists are saying. With time,the creative geniuses bring us into the new landscape. (“A genius looks at what everyone else looks at and sees what no one else sees.” –Szent Gyorgi)
    Vera Drake, for example (IMHO a superb film) looks at the agonizing problem of abortion from a perspective almost never portrayed. We are wiser, more human, more spiritual,if you will, for seeing that perspective, even if we don’t share it.

    As to the dismissive phrase, “it’s just a movie,”I suppose we could also say, “It’s just a book,” or “It’s just a painting.” Film is a major art form of our time, and yes, most movies are junk. Most books are junk too, and most other art. Always has been like that. Learning to know when a film or a book might be worth our time is hard, hard. Like Angela, I value reviewers who help me sort through the dreck. And I try occasionally to read reviewers who see things differently than I do.

    Finally, Kleermaker: amusing, “primary colors” view of God having or not having “spare time,” as though the Creator (of Time, among other things) toted a Franklin Planner and was obliged to prioritize his blessings.

  166. Elouise: Perfection once again. Thank you.

  167. Post #100 said he’d ‘rather get hit in the eye with a racketball than see another film featuring Doris Day.’ Boy, do I wish I had a racket! I thought that the Doris Day bashers were all gone, but obviously, there are a few left.

    Miss Day is retired, but she left behind millions of admirers, world-wide, who collect her films and anything they can get on her. She, among a very few genuine movie stars, has countless websites set up in her honor. Check out: The Films of Doris Day.

    I look at Miss Day as being the last of a breed of Hollywood Movie Queens. She, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds, Kim Novak, Sophia Loren, Natalie Wood, Briget Bardot, Janet Leigh and Virginia Mayo were among the last group of great female movie legends that were the real deal.

    Today’s “stars” hardly make films and they are on TV so often, they seem more like TV stars, or, better still, media whores. Their talent is rarely discussed, it’s who they’re seen with or sleep with that seems more important. And, there are so many rag shows (Entertainment Tonight, Access, etc.) who are reporting their every move (including cable news shows!) the public is sick of all of them.

    Back when stars were “stars,” you couldn’t find them on TV except on Oscar night or an infrequent appearance on the Tonight Show.

  168. We all know that those who watch R rated movies are going to the “other place” in the hereafter, because those movies are in violation of this talk.

    For some reason though, I hear very little discussion about the other earthshaking pronouncement in the talk:

    “Become an Eagle Scout. Do not settle for mediocrity in the great Scouting program of the Church.”

    Frankly, I am surprised that in “raising the bar”, becoming an eagle scout has not become a minimum requirement for young men serving a mission, or part of the recommend interview.

    I apologize for this attempted threadjack. Steve, maybe you can put this bit a “eagle” counsel on the calendar for another firestorm.

  169. This probably is my ignorance and minimum-wage job speaking, but I think the title of the talk is interesting. I don’t want to try for anything more complex until my fragile ego is restored.

  170. I agree with O.P. about Doris Day. Inspite of the general cheesiness of her movies, she was an exceptional talent. She really had a lot of depth when the part called for it.

    Re: R ratings–

    The best way to get around the argument is to come to grips with the fact that the vast majority of R rated movies are kerrrrrrrrap masquerading as “art.” Who wants to watch garbage? Regardless of the rating?

  171. DavidH: As an Eagle Scout myself, I have another point of view to offer on your threadjack. I think the scouting program is hopelessly outdated and largely irrelevant to today’s youth, especially as the church expands internationally. I think the entire scouting program should (and eventually will) be scrapped in favor of a new program designed and administered from the ground up by the Church. The BSA has outlived its usefulness.

  172. This discussion may be about over, but does anyone else remember being very inspired by the R-rated movie Paradise Road? I think it was rated R because of a scene where someone was doused with fuel and lit on fire, and there was another brief shot of the emaciated women nude in the shower which I can’t believe anyone would find titilating. But overall I thought it was so uplifting to see this based-on-true-experience portrayal of how humanity can bond together and survive through the atrocities of war. Those kind of R rated movies are, IMHO, worth the brief moment of violence.

  173. Whenever I read a statement like this from the apostles and prophets I’ve come to understand why there given. It is to help those who would follow Christ be in the world but not of the world. We can tell when we’re making progress towards being in the world and not of it by how we are experiencing prayer. Once we begin to experience prayer our faith also increases. Once our faith increases then all sorts of possibilities open up—just read Ether 12. I’m making this statement because of what I’ve personally experienced.

  174. You know what I remember most from the Matrix? Bullets (and bullets and bullets) flying everywhere.

    I’m really surprised no one has mentioned In the Company of Men yet.

  175. Eric Russell says:

    This thread can hardly count as a firestorm if it doesn’t even reach the number of comments on the last R-movie thread.

  176. Susan: The Matrix was one of the first movies to perfect the use of “bullet time,” a revolutionary effect that has been imitated repeatedly since then. Bullets are, therefore, an appropriate legacy from that, IMO, groundbreaking film.

  177. Yeah I know. The thing I remember most from that movie is the massive barrage of bullets in the lobby of an office building. Maybe that wasn’t the first one, though.

  178. That was the first one. Classic.

    BTW, there is an article by Rich Lowry in the National Review that makes the precise point that Ronan was making above. You can read it here. It’s worth reading because it’s relevant to the discussion of whether R-rated movies can be worthwhile.

  179. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, and I try to live in a manner that I can retain the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and keep unedifying garbage out of my life (and out of my family’s home, since I am a mother).

    But I take the 13th article of faith seriously. It says, “we seek after these things.” My understanding is that we should actively be seeking out things which are lovely, virtuous, of good report. It doesn’t tell us to live our lives in fear of contamination, or stay sequestered in our homes.

    Why do I think the arts are important? Because to me, good art testifies of our divine nature. When I saw the Picasso sculpture in Chicago for the first time, when I lept to my feet at the end of Les Miserables, when I watched STOMP perform, and when I hear Beatles music, I catch my breath. I am amazed at the beauty, proud to be a member of the same species that created this work of art, and realize that only a god-in-embryo could have made such a thing of beauty.

    That’s how I felt when I finally got to see the movie ONCE this weekend, after a summer of listening to the rest of my siblings from larger cities raving about how wonderful it is.

    It was one of the most uplifting films I have seen in a long time. I was kinda floating out of the theater, and looking forward to seeing it on DVD.

    It is an old-but-new story about a Guy and a Girl who meet and make music together, and make a difference in each others’ lives. It features delightful innocence and surprising twists.

    It’s not a classic hollywood love story. The two never kiss, and they end up with a different romantic partner. He does ask her to “stay the night” once, and she looks at him like he is crazy and says she has to leave. Frankly, I want my teenaged daughters to see that kind of assertive behavior modeled, in case they ever have to use it (and where else are they going to see it?). But that incident is pretty early in the film, and from that point on, it is clear they are friends.

    In that respect, it reminded me of the recent discussion at T & S about different-sex friendships, Getting in the way.

    I thought it was such a positive experience. True, it happens to be rated R for harsh language, but that didn’t bother me too much. First of all, while there were enough instances of the F-word to trigger that rating, there was little-to-no taking of the Lord’s name in vain, which bothers me much more (I even cringed during SISTERZ IN ZION). Second, the characters have Irish accents and thus when they say the f-word it doesn’t sound like we would say it here; it’s no more offensive than “flip” or “frack.” Third, when they do use it, it was used as a frustration expletive or in place of “messed up” and not refering to a sex act.

    But apparently the MPAA doesn’t take any of that context into consideration in their ratings, which is why I can’t rely on the ratings to indicate whether something is lovely or virtuous.

    ONCE is a lovely movie, and I was a better person walking out of the theater after a film that ended too soon. I had seen truth. That’s what good art can do for us.

  180. Steve Evans says:

    Naismith, the soundtrack is phenomenal as well. NPR’s All Songs Considered also has streaming for free on their website a live concert by the Swell Season, which is Glen Hansard & Marketa Iglova (the stars of ONCE).

  181. I think it is interesting that there was/is such a frenzy about R-rated movies, but the counsel to not listen to music that is degrading has not been touched. Is it because we do not have an exact standard against which to compare? I listen to music much more often than I watch movies, and I think music has more of an effect on my daily life.

  182. Kevin Barney says:

    Naismith, I too really enjoyed Once. I don’t have the soundtrack, which I need to get, but I do have a Frames cd with some of the songs on it.

  183. Portia, I think you are right about the reason for that, but I would also add that there are even more widely differing opinions about music than there are about movies. There are some, I think, who conclude that all music of a certain type is “degrading.” That’s a whole separate firestorm.

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