All that is virtuous and of good report- R Rated Movies?
As a new convert, one of the things that I’ve struggled with as I’ve gained a stronger presence of the Holy Ghost is figuring out exactly what media content is or is not spiritually conducive. Some decisions are very clear cut; for instance, a couple of months ago I went through the very cathartic process of deleting hundreds of satanic death metal songs that I used to adore. On the other hand, especially with movies, I have found some decisions very difficult. As with music, sometimes the decision is very simple; Hostel is not likely to be a spiritually enlightening experience. Yet, for many of the most powerful, poignant and well-designed films a correct path is much less clear. There is prophetic advice to not watch R rated movies, but I have also found so many good, and meaningful films with this rating. Ultimately, I have to say that I am conflicted and unable to figure out what is right for me.
Today I went and I saw Up In the Air which perfectly exemplifies my dilemma. On the one hand, profanity was pretty common and sexual humor and innuendo rampant. Yet, the film also had a profound and timely message about the value of human connections and family in particular. The acting and dialogue was sharp and left a profound impact. It was clearly a well-done film, but more importantly it was also a film with an ultimately positive value filled spirit. Likewise, a few weeks back I saw the movie Precious that was also R rated and also an absolutely stunning affirmation of life. I left that movie feeling more sure of my conviction that we are all sons and daughters of our heavenly father. Up In The Air leaves me feeling confident in my conviction that is ultimately our relationships rather than our assets that make our life meaningful. I recently wrote two posts about the lessons I learned from watching Schindler’s List. These are worthy lessons and I worry about missing out on them if I limit my viewing experiences too selectively.
I realized while watching this film that perhaps it is this spirit that is the most important facet of a film. Some films encourage a spirit of materialism, nihilism and moral relativism while others are values filled and wholesome. This spirit is related to but not directly correlated with the content. A film that revels in violence and sex will not likely have a good spirit, but one that does not will not necessarily either. Some movies can be technically proficient but negative in values. For me, a good example of this was last years No Country For Old Men. This film was critically acclaimed and technically well done. Yet, the overall philosophy was rooted in a blind chaotic nihilism that was vapid in my eyes.
The problem is knowing what kind of ‘spirit’ a film will have. The other question is whether some of the more negative imagery or dialogue one hears has a worse impact than any positive one a film can have. Does hearing profanity negate the good of a film—unlikely. What about glorification of promiscuous sex—much likely so. The problem with not setting hard and fast guidelines such as no R rated movies is that I have to make difficult decisions and may end up seeing movies that are spiritually bad for me.
Would I just be better off with a hard and fast rule against R rated films? Readers, what have you done for yourself or for your families? Your advice would be very helpful.