Monday, February 23, 2009

Arbitrary Film Ratings

There Will Be Blood
My synopsis: A fantastically dark and horrid portrait of one man's obsession with control, power and money and it's impact with the world around him.

Movie Rating in the United States: R
Movie Rating in Alberta, Canada: PG

My rant: Movie ratings are the most arbitrary guides used by the masses. In Canada, it's not even unified throughout the whole country. Every province determines the ratings of each movie. I don't understand how so many people base their judgement on whether or not to see a film based upon a man made system that has so many discrepancies. I've noticed the DVD collections of my friends up here have many movies that are considered R-Rated in the States. These are friends that have the "watch no R-Rated movie" rule. They would prevent themselves from watching these movies if they were to just move 52 miles south of here. To my US friends that have an no-R-Rated rule: If you want to see an R-Rated movie, just move north. It's okay, you're still keeping the commandments.

Now don't get me wrong. I respect those who have a no R-Rated movie rule. I truly do; I lived by this same principle for seven years. What I now have a difficult time understanding is why people base their righteous decisions and spiritual endeavors upon a man-made construct. We go and do service, we obey the word of wisdom, we pay our tithing, we live the law of chastity, we keep the sabbath holy, we keep our covenants, we listen to what ratings the MPAA gives movies and act accordingly. Are you serious??? I will live by the Spirit, by my conscience and by my heart, not by the MPAA or Alberta or Manitoba or Barry Obama.

I know the prophet's have counseled us to avoid watching R-Rated movies, namely President Benson, over 20 years ago, but repeatedly since by mostly regular members. I don't deny the prophet's counsel and I uphold them and what they tell me. However, I also believe in a living and growing Church. A Church that is continually progressing in wisdom and stature. Does this belief entitle me to go against what the Church has counseled me? No it does not, but at the same time, with this belief, I don't believe I am.

I personally felt deeply betrayed by the overall rating system when I went to see Beowulf when it first came out. Rating: PG-13. My conscience at the time: It's okay to see Beowulf; it's not Rated-R. The result: A serious moral schism between what I felt I could see versus what I saw. My conclusion: After months of consulting and deliberating with some friends, I will thoughtfully be my own guide. No board or a committee that doesn't know me, my values and my standards is going to dictate what manner of movie I can see.

My solution: There are websites out there that provide detailed and thorough information. is probably the best resource to actually knowing what objectionable content is in a movie. People need to be educated on the reasons behind a movie rating but not on the actual movie rating. The rating is needless; it's the content that matters. Give a detailed description on what content is questionable, then let us be judge.

Since my revised standard, I've been much more satisfied with the movies that I watch. It used to be that I would see ANY movie that wasn't Rated-R just because they weren't given that rating. And I would see a lot of awful movies that left me feeling dull. Now I give much more thought and discretion into each movie I see. For me, it's just a better way to live and I feel I'm living what the LDS Church is currently counseling me to do.

1 comment:

zach and cecily said...

Amen Sam.
Seriously though, I have this same discussion with my bro in law all the time. He thinks the Girl Next Door is just fine because its PG13 but won't see The Green Mile. WTF??
I Love You,