Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Moviegoers, You Have the Freedom to Walk Out

Just a quick thought this morning: Walking out of a theater can be a liberating experience. When you're sitting through a movie that increaingly assaults your soul with violent images and other questionable content, even if so many of your friends have told you how good the movie is, guess what? You don't have to stay there and watch it. Once you realize you've made a bad choice based on unreliable guidance from others, you don't have to sit there and watch dozens more people get blown up or tortured. It's OK to say, "This is disgusting. I'm out of here."

I'm puzzled why so many devout Christians spend so much of their time and money voluntarily absorbing the hideous or often lascivious imagery that the denizens of Hollywood's cesspools wish to dump into their brains.

From our 13th Article of Faith: "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." Not many modern movies fit that bill, IMHO. We need to be more vigilant about what we allow into our skulls.

58 comments:

Joe said...

Perhaps we search so long and hard for redeeming qualities in movies because they cost an arm and a leg to view in theaters. Walking out is throwing money away.

But then again, so is going to the theater to see things that harm our spirituality. It's important to keep our perspective. The money's already spent, but it does more harm to keep absorbing such filth.

brandags said...

Amen!! It's so hard to find a good movie these days. Even many PG and G movies contain unnecessary filth or suggestive humor. Movies are such a powerful medium, that I would like to see more movies that uplift and inspire us to be better people, and to think more intelligebly, rather than simply entertain, or worse - degrade and desensitize.

I no longer go to movies in the theater. If it's something I really want to see, I'll get it free from the library in a few months so I'm not spending any money. And can then skip scenes or turn the whole show off with the push of a remote control button.

A.J. said...

check out some of the online movie reviews for parents they will give you an idea if a movie has stuff you don't want to see so you don't have to blow 8 or 9 bucks walking out.

Spandex King said...

I've walked out of a bunch lately. "PG13" is the new "R". I've pretty much stopped going without the endorsement of someone I trust.

Lynda said...

I think I would have a hard time walking out because normally Id be with someone else and Id feel guilty for ruining it for them. Instead, though, I am really carefuly on the front end. I never go see movies on opening day...I wait to hear reviews from others, and I check Christian/parenting sites for reviews. If its something I wouldnt let my 11 year old see, I dont want to see it either in 90% of cases (a few exceptions exist, such as documentaries that deal with mature themes but in a responsible way).

Unfortunately, my husband has a much higher tolerance than I do for movie misdeeds and there's always a tension between his desire to see something and my unwillingness to be exposed to it. We even sometimes have a dispute about whether its appropriate for the kids. He usually defers to me in this and will go with someone else if I say the kids shouldnt see it.

quinn mccoy said...

Why go to the movies at all? Reading a book. you dont even have to buy the book, you can get one at the local library.

Anonymous said...

Don't just walk out, ask for your money back. I've never had them refuse to refund us. Like any defective product, it can be "returned", specially if you walk out in the first 15 minutes or so.

Carlos U.

jeppster said...

"Why go to the movies at all? Reading a book. you dont even have to buy the book, you can get one at the local library."

Just a quick thought this morning: Putting down a book can be a liberating experience. When you're reading through a novel that increaingly assaults your soul with violent imagery and other questionable content, even if so many of your friends have told you how good the book is, guess what? You don't have to sit there and read it. Once you realize you've made a bad choice based on unreliable guidance from others, you don't have to sit there and imagine dozens more people get blown up or tortured. It's OK to say, "This is disgusting. I'm putting this down."

I'm puzzled why so many devout Christians spend so much of their time and eyesight voluntarily absorbing the hideous or often lascivious imagery that the denizens of book world's cesspools wish to dump into their brains.

From our 13th Article of Faith: "If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." Not many modern novels, short stories, fiction, non-fiction, etc. fit that bill, IMHO. We need to be more vigilant about what we allow into our skulls.

gentlyhewstone said...

Sorry for the hubris, but I have to wonder if this post might have been inspired by the debate I started over at BCC: http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2008/07/you-cant-fight-darkness-with-darkness/ I even referenced that Article of Faith in my post, too!

Incidentally, "Spandex King" wasn't just being figurative when he said "PG-13 is the new R." Harvard studied it and agreed: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/archives/2004-releases/press07132004.html

There's a great essay at Waters of Mormon about "ratings creep," also: http://watersofmormon.org/archive/2008/07/17/at-the-movies-ratings-creep--the-reign-of-the.aspx

No wonder the current "For The Strength Of Youth" doesn't limit it's counsel to R-rated movies: it has a blanket warning against all inappropriate media.

quinn mccoy said...

jeppster, that is exactly my point, a book on loan from the library costs you nothing to put it down.

Andreas V said...

My wife and I have walked out of quite a few in the theater.

Lately, we have found two websites very helpful in determining beforehand whether a movie, we want to watch, contains objectionable material:

1) http://christiananswers.net/spotlight/home.html

This site is nice, since lists explicitely what the movie contains, which is morally objectionable to Christians.

2) http://www.kids-in-mind.com/

This gives ratings from 0-10 in categories such as violence and sexual contents for movies, and all objectionable instances are listed in detail.

We use these websites every time a new movie come out we want to watch. We are surprised sometimes that what we otherwise thought looked decent actually aren't.

MarciK said...

My husband and I have made a commitment to "put up the big bucks" for good movies (G, some PG, etc.) We wait for the cheap theater or DVD for other stuff, if we even watch it at all. It's pretty much the only thing we do have control over. If we all banded together...

Tracy Keeney said...

Agree completely, Jeff! And I second the motion about asking for your money back. Different theatres have different ways they handle it. Some will give you the cash back-- some will give you a gift certificate in your purchase amount to use at a different time.

Out of curiosity-- I'd love to know what prompted your post, Jeff.
Did you recently have to walk out of a show?
If the answer is yes, I'm curious to know what show it was.

Mormanity said...

Gentlyhewstone, no, I didn't notice the post at By Common Consent until you called attention to it. Wow - a good reminder about how easy it is to misjudge apparent plagiarism. Two authors both expressing similar points of view and even citing the same LDS scripture, Article 13.

What is even more interesting is that the very same movie, Dark Knight, triggered my response. And like yours, my post was going to be something of a review, but, like you, I switched gears and wrote something a little more general.

I saw the movie last night, feeling a wee bit of pressure to go. My concerns were overridden by the praise other LDS people in my family's circle had heaped upon this movie. They are welcome to their opinions, but it was simply hideous and revolting. Finally, as I watched the Joker cheerfully shuffle down the street as he was blowing up a huge hospital, I reflected on the absolute amorality of the show and its message that evil can be compelling and witty, and that fighting evil requires taking moral shortcuts like brutality and torture. I turned to my wife and whispered, "I wonder if Homeland Security subsidized some of this movie. It's just appalling, and I've had enough." That's when I walked out. I'm embarrassed that I didn't walk out earlier. I'm embarrassed that I went. Very sorry about that!

Ratings creep for sure. This was a dark and vile R-rated movie with a PG-13 label ("it's OK - it's not R or anything!"), artfully done by people whose agenda is utterly opposed to the Lord's. Why are we giving these enemies of our society our money?

"Calm down - it's just a moview" - that's what I expect some people who are past feeling and reason to say. Ideas have consequences, grotesque and violent ideas glorified for the masses have consequences, and we need people with real ideas to speak out against the cultural sewage that fills our streets and minds.

Anonymous said...

Different strokes for different folks people. I myself don't care for violence, most R rated movies, even some PG-13 is disturbing. But please keep in mind that we are all different and have various tolerances.

I am an adult and will turn off/walk out on any movie I don't enjoy. Must we turn yet another enjoyment into a judgement?

Here I sit feeling so righteous amongst this bunch. Too funny, and if you knew me... you'd giggle too! HA!

Todd Wood said...

Good post, Jeff

from the Baptist preacher in Ammon, Idaho

quandmeme said...

@gentlyhewstone, thank you for the Harvard link even though you probably already posted it at BCC. I expected a focus on the PG-13 & R levels, but--obvious after reading it--the same happens with violence and crudeness in "kids" movies.

In watching the 'Madagascar 2' trailer before Wall-E I was surprised that the cross-dressing lemur got such prominent billing in the trailer: that's the highlight to make kids/parents consume?

Thanks all for the reminder that I can say no. Kids may have to discover books after they outgrow PBS.

Bookslinger said...

I walked out of Dodgeball, the movie with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn.

But I didn't see it until it was in the cheap 2nd run theater anyway.

Anonymous said...

Not a commentary or judgment on personal standards, but what is the biggest objection? Is it content or the director's interpretation of the story? Take Michaelangelo's David, I've heard some good men call it porn while others, I'd consider just as good, consider it one of the most beautiful works of art ever created.

As far as movies go, where would you place Lawrence of Arabia with it's masochistic and sadistic elements and homosexual overtones. While some might find the content objectionable, it clearly is one of the most aclaimed movies ever made.....and what of Citizen Kane? The main character has little or no regard for his fellow man.

Just curious where the line is drawn and why.

gentlyhewstone said...

Jeff, don't sweat it, no accusation of plagiarism was intended.

Great post; keep up the good work!

--Huston

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

Lighten up, it is just a movie. And no, I'm not past feeling and reason. I just recognize that movies are not real life, and are meant only for entertainment purposes. Nothing more. We need to be educating our children on this as well.

Catholic Defender

Granny said...

Catholic Defender said Lighten up, it is just a movie. And no, I'm not past feeling and reason. I just recognize that movies are not real life, and are meant only for entertainment purposes. Nothing more. We need to be educating our children on this as well."

I'd like to refer you to an article in Milwaukee Journal Sentinal about an 18-year-old who strangled his girlfried to death after watching "Natural Born Killers." Perhaps that may help change your opinion a bit.

Gran

Anonymous said...

HI Gran,

Yes, I'm aware of that, just as I am aware of the lawsuit Ozzy Osborne faced over his song "Suicide Solution" after a child committed suicide while listening to it. Or maybe you're familiar with Charles Manson's link to "Helter Skelter" from the Beatles and its impact upon the Sharon Tate murders. Songs and Movies don't cause kids to kill. Poor parenting skills, improper or poor parental supervision...over sensationalized media attention that makes these things glamourous, these are things that teach kids to kill. Movies are just movies. Basically it comes down to parental irresponsibility in not properly socializing their own children that leds to killings. All blaming the movie, or the songs does is shift the responsiblity to someone else. But hey, that's the American Way... its always someone else's fault here.

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

iCatholic Defender,

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever questionded the fact that you find such things entretaining? Take a few minutes, and think about that.

I think it's one of the signs of how depraved we have become as a society that we find wanton destruction and lust entretaining. Flipping trough the channels on most nights, you (we don't have cable)you would conclude two things are entretaining on TV: Murder and lust. Lust. Murder. Murder with lust. Is there not much more to life? Is there not much more to the human experiance? Is a representation of violations of God's most important commandments what floats our boats? Do we not remember how wholesome and different TV shows were 15, 20, 30 years ago in comparasion? Are we not supposed to become holy? How do we become holy? Ask yourself, if a religious leader or person you respect came to visit you, would you sit them down and put in some of these programs? Why not?

I hope you don't feel picked on, I'm just trying to get you to think. I mildly chastized my sister for giving as a gift the "Mr & Ms. Smith" (I think that's what the name was) with Brad Pitt and Anj. Jolie. Why would you bring into someone's home a movie where the entretaintment is based on murder and lust?

Carlos U.

Bookslinger said...

I'm also of the opinion that there is too much "bad stuff" in movies, and that it's bad to watch bad stuff.

But just to be a contrarian, I'll also point out that there are plenty of examples of murder and lust in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Well, the movie was dark, hence the title. That's for sure. And violent, that too. Profanity...I didn't hear much, though having been raised by a Navy dad, I am used to tuning it out. Portraying people, even supposed "super" heroes, as well...human...true too. It's not too difficult to point fingers at movies and say "that's a load of garbage" or "this should be a rated "R" movie". Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia, heck a Man Called Horse, True Grit, Fist Full of Dollars,etc etc. could be thrown into the bunch. Movies have pretty much always portrayed a humanity that is slightly out of touch with the real deal. Yes, as Jeff has stated, you can walk out. And you should if it offends you. You will feel better. But let's not forget that most movies are an escape from reality, sometimes beyond reality and if we wanted to be really fanatic, wasted idle time. If we wanted to point fingers at bad movies or bad shows, there are plenty to pick and choose from. I think though that we need to just focus on what's important. If not than we will point out the flaws of such harmless movies, like Star Trek and their Utopian/socialistic world government. Star Wars with their "force" instead of God ideology or is it theology? I mean we could go on and on about this, until we become fanatics, or as was put, "we end up becoming the villain." Let's not get too fanatic.

Brian Duffin said...

Jeff, I was just lamenting that I don't have the opportunity to watch more movies (rentals and first-run-movies in the theater). Well, I've changed my mind! I'm GLAD I don't watch more movies than I now do.

Great post!

Zera Pulsipher said...

I saw the Dark Knight last Night and Jeff this is one of the few times where I disagree with you and it is from the same stand point a moral one. The Book of Mormon doesn't make hold back on the violence and some parts are even more graphic then even the worse part of The Dark Knight. You just did a post on Ammon and the waters of Mormon, where someone took the law into their own hand, and in a very violent manner. This even becomes more disturbing when you consider that Ammons life wasn't in danger particularly at the time that the flocks were being spread. Yet here we have a man of God cutting off arms left and right to defend the lives of the servants from someone other then the peoples who's arms he's cutting off. We have one of Captain Moroni's men scalping someone holding and holding it on the end of his weapon as a warning for the literal slaughter which takes place if the evil men will not cease their war making. We then have Captain Moroni who leads those men to slaughter them until they give up. So in other words Batman has a leg up on our very own superhero's of the Book of Mormon in the fact that he will not kill and tries not to maime. The Joker is even less of a villain then the whole of "Lamanite" society at the end of the scripture, and they were sane where as the joker of Batman's world has always been a lunatic who gets let loose on a sane society. You are right you don't have to watch it yet you picked a very poor time to walk out as many of the lessons aren't learned until near the end of this installment of the series. And unlike the real group of people known as the Nephites who at the end were no less villains then those they were fighting, the people of Gotham maintain hope and let it overcome their urge for violence even though they think it's for self preservation. Was the movie violent? Yes. Was it an assault on the senses? Yes. Does it teach a higher moral standard? While this point can be debated I and most people who did watch the movie to the end will probably say Yes. I do not believe the film is glorifying violence while it portrays it realistically and it is the Heroes means to an end, it also shows that it should be avoided when necessary. Now for some more questions Do the scriptures contain graphic depictions of real violence? Yes. Are there many parts that are an assault on the senses? Unless you are truly desensitized Yes. Do the lessons learned from reading about such degradation and having the those visuals planted into your mind justify their inclusion in scripture. I'd argue yes. When you take this film in context with it's predecessor as well as in those that will come I think you will find that it's message about violence is the same as the scriptures. To like you and others quote the thirteenth article of faith. "If there is "anything" virtuous, lovely or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things." That would include R movies that are rated such because of their subject matter. That would include video games,or books the may contain violence but at the same time condemn it (much like the recent batman films, and the Scriptures). Maybe I am desensitized but I doubt it considering I found the violence abhorrent and thought that the film did a wonderful job and showing it for what it is, much like the sad lessons learned from Mormon in his letter to his son Moroni. I know this has been a long rant and I'm almost done. I do not want to insinuate that you were in any way wrong for walking out, that was your personal choice and if you felt it was necessary then it was. I personally (and I know this is going to sound cliche) felt the spirit at many times during the film. At the same time if you are sensitive to violence chances are you try to avoid even the more violent passages in scripture. My problem was with the use of the Article of Faith to imply that the film didn't fit into any of those categories when I viewed it as being, Virtuous, Praiseworthy, and of Good Report. It was certainly even lovely at some parts, though those parts were definitely kept to a minimum. I hope I haven't offended you as you really are one of my heroes, and even though I disagree with you about the film, I think that you made a very courageous decision. I just strongly feel the need to stand up for what I believe to be one of the few mainstream Hollywood films as of late that actually is willing to teach a moral lesson. For you it's a lesson you have already learned and through the proper channels of scripture study and prayer. For most though this movie can teach very valuable lessons to those unfamiliar and unwilling to become acquainted with scriptures and the spirit. I hope I have been able to at least show that the film was far from filth. Remember that "evil will be called good, and good will be called evil". I have always believe that those calling good evil would be those who are trying to stand on a higher moral ground and in doing so let many of God tools for teaching be discredited as "filth" in some way or another. Those who say good is evil have no morality so they would not say good is evil as they will not acknowledge that evil exists. Only someone with high standards and morals would call something that is good evil, as only someone with morals will acknowledge that evil exists. Let's all myself included be wary. of what we call and preach to be good or evil. "The Passion of the Christ" converted thousand to various Christian religions even some to our own faith included yet it was a "R rated movie". I personally found it lacking because I already had a testimony and the film did little to strengthen mine. I would never call it filth though and depending on the persons level of light and knowledge I have and would suggest it as a introduction to Christ's sacrifice and atonement. I would not recommend the Dark Knight to everyone that is for certain, but considering one of the Friends I saw it with and myself spent the rest of the evening talking about how it related to the Gospel and both of us were edified and uplifted by the film and our discussion, I can also say that I would recommend it to many. different people learn and absorb things in different ways, and if this movie can help change someones views for the better even a little when they would not have otherwise then the ends do justify the means. Just my thoughts and feelings on the matter, and I still maintain the utmost respect for you and your views, I just think we should be careful with what we label as filth. Equally with what we label as good.

Lincolnlogger said...

One LDS perspective from someone who did enjoy the movie:

Was it violent? Yes. Would I let my children see it? No.

To me, I guess in order to have a hero film, you have to have a villain and some major conflict. If that includes moral choices on the part of the hero, it can be uncomfortable if the hero does not make choices that we feel we would make. It doesn't necessarily mean that the film is condoning the violence or the choices made (especially when there are consequences even within the film of those choices).

Granted, I do concede that violence in film is certainly escalating, especially when you consider the extreme examples of graphic horror/slasher films that comes out once a month or so.

But I'm not one to think that all film/media is bad, even if it isn't all perfect. Certainly there are better things I could be doing with my time (reading scriptures, service, things that I do), but sometimes I just want to watch a movie.

Am I opposed to violence? In general, yes. In the real world, yes. On film, to an extent. In books, also to a certain extent. However, I'm sure the 1,000 stipling warriors caused more bloodshed than was in this movie. Even if the Book of Mormon doesn't have a Joker.

Zera Pulsipher said...

sorry for the wall I always forget to separate the paragraphs

Greg said...

I thought the whole message of the film was that evil can be irrational, chaotic and seemingly unbeatable, but good can still stand up to it and overcome it.

Jeff, when you walked out, you missed a crucial part of the film when the public and prisoners are faced with a moral choice and make the right one. You can hardly criticize a film when you don't watch the entire thing as it's meant to be viewed.

Tim Malone said...

While the assault on the senses was indeed dramatic, the whole extended family was in attendance. Yet none would take the lead and walk out. Had it been overly sexual in content perhaps it would have been different. Are we becoming more desensitized to violence and evil? When family members were asked about it afterward, all reported that they were disappointed and didn't like it. Some reported dreaming about it as in nightmares. It was certainly not something for the very young.

T said...

Regardless of which movie has offended you and why (I'm just not going to go there... to each his own) it is important to remember that your voice of objection is only heard if you do walk out AND demand a refund. As a previous comment mentioned, they will give you a refund within the first 15 minutes. I think I remember from a film class (years and years ago) that if you leave within the first 15 minutes of a film that the theatre is required to refund your ticket price (sorry, not the popcorn) and report that refund to the higher ups in the industry (the movie makers).

Of course... knowing this, it isn't uncommon that offensive scenes will be saved for 16+ minutes in... but even if they won't do it, ask for the cash anyway - send the message as far as it will go!

Zera Pulsipher said...

They will give you your money back so long as you really disliked the film actually it has nothing to do with how much of it you watched.

jglanfield said...

The truth is, we all classify violence into two categories, i.e., "violence I like" and "violence I don't like".

For instance, to some the violence in TDK is over-the-top. But to these same people, fantasy-style violence in The Lord of the Rings is OK because of the nature of the creatures. For instance, in TDK the Joker puts a pencil through someone's eye. Is that better or worse than a Urukai (in LOTR) removing a large knife from his own leg and licking the blood off of it before chucking it at someone?

I've met people who think Batman is too dark and violent, but who at the same time love War of the Worlds and Gladiator.

Classifying violence doesn't make sense to me (I realize there are some exceptions). And by the way, to be surprised that a movie is dark which actually has the word "dark" in the title shows a bit of naivete in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carlos U,

Writing with a handle like Catholic Defender on a mormon blog pretty much sets me up to be picked on, so I won't take offense. Perhaps the difference we have is that I see movies from an entirely different perspective than others here. For me, movies are an escape from the realities of the real world. They aren't a social statement, they are just a way to take a few hours off from having to deal with real life problems.

I don't disagree with the proposition that movies and television have become increasingly more violent or explicit in the past 30 years. But that has occurred because we as a society have become far more tolerant of these images. I don't believe movies are inherently evil though, and I don't believe movies by themselves create the horrific crimes folks have talked about here. Those crimes occur in people following movies, because those people were already broken before they saw the movie. The movie may act as a catalyst, but it isn't the cause of the problem. That's the point I was making.

I am old enough to remember television programs from the 60s and 70s, and yes these were much cleaner programs. They were not necessarily better programs, in fact some were mindless drivel and so far removed from the real world, that they made no sense. Old movies like Gone with the Wind are classics, but they are also violent films. El Cid is filled with wars and death. The only difference is that in today's movies one sees the violence, in those older films one has to imagine the violence. They are both still violent.

You book of mormon, which you hold in very high esteem and believe to be the gospel of Jesus is filled with lust and violence. Isn't it Nephi who's called upon to lop off Laban's head with his own sword. Look at that event, Laban is lying helpless in a drunken stupor and Nephi murders him in cold blood. Now the story is that God told him to do it, which is problematic doctrine in my eyes but even if true, Nephi kills the guy in cold blood. Is that really anymore wholesome than Batman defeating the Joker and saving Gotham City?

My wife and I do differ in our tolerance levels of violence. We also don't always agree on what films our son should see. But, we both communicate and make the decisions together. We don't have satelite or cable because we have better control over what our child watches by not having those in our home. We do watch a lot of movies. I personally do not see anything wrong with movies about superheros triumphing over super villans. We need more that happening in the real world than we get.

A last point I would make before I go. I give thought to the idea of censoring these types of films all the time. This is a huge free speech issue to me. The very law that allows you to believe and proseletize your beliefs on the BOM, is the same law that allows these films to be created. If you stifle the film industry in its right to speak freely, there is nothing that will prevent the film industry from stifling your beliefs on the BOM. Free speech cuts both ways. You can't prevent offensive speech, with preventing positive speech. The only way you combat offensive speech is to speak louder and educate folks as to what is positive. You don't stifle the offensive speech. And if you don't like the movie, don't go to the movie.

Catholic Defender

daveja vu said...

Acceptable forms of entertainment are one of those things that tend to make me squirm a little whenever we have talks or meetings discussing such. Probably because I'm an LDS convert and I've been exposed to so much in my previous life I'm a little more desensitized than others. Having said that, I will acknowledge that a large majority of what comes out of Hollywood these days is crap, R-rated or not. Most of the time I just use my own adult judgement as to whether a movie is worth me or my family seeing. Gratuitous sex and violence are out, as well as questionable moral themes. I have to confess to be a big fan of the "Godfather" movies and the first two "Alien" movies (everything after the second is crap), but I guess we all have a few guilty pleasures. I think we just have to be really discriminating as to what our children are seeing, and let them know why some movies are unacceptable, yet once they get older allow them a little more discretion and agency so they aren't overly sheltered.

A few movies, mainly historical documentaries that are well done, I had us see as a family once the kids were old enough to deal with the mature themes, regardless of the ratings. A good example is "Schindler's List". I strongly believe that our children must be educated as to the horrors of the Holocaust so that it or anything similar can never be allowed to happen again, and they can never allow someone to tell them that it didn't happen. To me, that's a personal family decision falling under the guidelines of "let us govern ourselves". Obviously opinions may vary as to what's acceptable entertainment, and what's good for one may not be good for another. That's why we always have the option of walking out, or refusing to spend our money on what we may consider unwholesome entertainment. And I believe exercising our options is a far better alternative than blanket censorship.

Anonymous said...

Catholic Defender,

I'm not advicating any kind of censorship other than self-censorship. I'm advocating we let the moral teachings of our respective religions influence what we find acceptable. Those moral teachings are for all intents and purposes identical. That's why I asked what would you do with if the religious leader where visited your home. If a Catholic priest or Bishop visited your home, you would not sit him down to watch a violent or lustfull movie, just as I wouldn't if a Mormon religious leader visited me. If we would't do if they came home, maybe we sholdn't do it at all.

Of course the Book of Mormon is violent. So is the Bible, a book we also consider the word of God. Nephi's cutting of Laban's head is not different from David cutting Goliath's head, and the paralels go on. Scriptures are, ammong other things, historical accounts, and history is filled with violence. But the focus of the scriptures is not on violence, is about man's relation with God, and what is expected of us.

Carlos U.

Darion Alexander said...

Catholic Defender,

Uhh...God also told the Israelites to kill thousands of "pagans" in the Bible, not including that David lopped off Goliath's head and placed it on the tip of his own sword and that was..OKAY with God. And then let's not talk about the Maccabees....also in the Bible...well at least the Catholic Bible. I mean we can pick and choose which stories we find too violent and which aren't, just as if I were going pick which value meal I really want to add to my weight, but let's not try to diss the Book of Mormon or the Bible based on a preference of violence because they both have them.

Also, on a flip side, I have to ask everyone...
"Why...so...serious??"

Alex Valencic said...

I don't think that anyone is trying to diss the Book of Mormon or the Holy Bible by pointing out the scenes of intense violence. If anything, they are merely pointing out that portrayals of violent behaviour alone do not make a particular "story" good or bad. The good or bad of a story comes from the lesson it is teaching. And all stories teach lessons, whether they are intended or not. (To save time, though, I'll spare you all from a discourse on the transitive theory or literary criticism.)

I think the most important thing we all must remember, though, is that we all have the agency to make decisions. If Jeff decided that the Dark Knight was too much for him, then I applaud his decision to walk out. If he was watching the latest installment of Barney and Friends and said, "Oh, good Lord, I can't take anymore of this!" I would expect him to walk out, or turn it off. I know I would (although, to be honest, I'm not sure why I'd be watching Barney in the first place...)

Regardless, since we do have the freedom to walk out of a movie we find distasteful, and since we do have our own sense of what is and is not tasteful, why is it that so many of us will sit through a movie, grumbling the whole time about how awful it is? Perhaps that is what we should be asking ourselves.

jglanfield said...

Darion said:

"Also, on a flip side, I have to ask everyone...
'Why...so...serious??'"
-------------------------------


Wanna see a magic trick?

Anonymous said...

Alex,

You've hit upon the point I was trying to make. The Bible, the BOM, these scriptures are full of violence and war. How do they actually differ from the movies we watch. Every watch the Greatest Story Ever Told. That's a classic about Jesus. It also has a fair amount of violence in it. Is this better because its about Jesus? Its still violence. The point is, violence is subjective. What's violent to one person is not violent to another. We have to use our heads, and our consciences, and decide for ourselves what constitutes violence and inappropriate films. Our respective churches will give guidance, but they should not be doing our thinking for us, which is a concern I have with some of the doctrine put forth here. Ultimately we have to draw our own conclusions. And by the way, if a Catholic Priest or Bishop came to my house for dinner and a movie, I'd ask him what movie he would like to see. You see, he's a guest in my house and I'd offer him the choice since that's the courteous thing to do.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Mormanity said...

CD: I personally do not see anything wrong with movies about superheros triumphing over super villans.

Superheroes triumphing? Did we see the same movie? Consider the police station scene where Batman tries to use force and fear to squeeze information out of the Joker. The Joker triumphed! He was totally in control, getting what he wanted (obviously a masochist), and Batman was defeated, making a fool of himself, coming down to the Joker's level, abandoning restraint and rules. I turned to my wife at this point also and expressed my frustration over how deliberately wrong this crafty scene was. Sure, in his bullet-proof spooky suit with all its power and gadgets, he can hurt and intimidate - but he was exposed as hollow and superficial with nowhere to go, while the Joker was totally in control, wise, prepared, resourceful, always several steps ahead, with all the best lines in the grim film.

Batman was ready to call his anti-crime campaign quits and abandon the city to win his girl back (that seemed to be a key factor looming over his shallow thinking), and was far too clueless to see that she wasn't his. Shallow. A fool. Easily outwitted by the superior Joker, the one who stayed true to his corrupt principles.

Maybe the Joker died in the end, after wrecking endless mayhem, but what did Batman win? His reputation? His dignity? His girl? He sacrified whatever was left of his reputation to protect the good name of someone on his way to becoming another force of darkness. That's a victory?

I guess I missed the part abou this being about superheroes defeating evil. All I saw was the triumph of evil and the embarrassment of phoney goodness.

jglanfield said...

Jeff is right on this one. The Joker was in control for the entire movie. This movie had nothing to do with Batman saving Gotham from evil. It was just like many 2nd movies of a trilogy where the main character struggles with some identity crisis.

The only reason Joker was defeated was because the people chose to not give into the hate that he wanted them to give in to. Batman was certainly no hero in this move... but was that not the point?

Was the title not "The Dark Knight"? Or was I watching something else?

Nikabee said...

I'll have to speak up and add my vote "for" The Dark Knight as a movie, for adults - NOT for kids. I was truly disturbed by how many parents I saw in the theater with their kids. It's PG-13 for a reason - not appropriate for a 5 yr old.

That said, as movie for adults, I think they did a wonderful job. Is the violence disturbing? Oh yeah, you betcha. But that was the point. As some people have already pointed out, there were good ideals protrayed as well. I'm thinking specifically about the 2 ferries and the choices those people made. The very end was where the theme and the beauty and logic of the whole film was made apparent. If you missed that, you missed the point of the film and would've been left with only the negative images to dwell on.

One of the reasons I personally like Batman (as opposed to other superhero characters) is that he's a real man, albeit a rich one! lol We see him struggle with the same human emotions and motivations that we face ourselves. The question the film raised for me was: what makes a person a hero? I think it was very well done.

We all have choices to make, based on personal preferences and tolerances - I agree. I guess that's a vote to pre-screen the things we decide we would like to participate in or experience. But not all violence in films is glorifying that violence. Sometimes the statement is quite the opposite.

Bookslinger said...

I didn't see anything in the original post or in his comments where Jeff told people what to do, or any indications that the LDS church intends to do people's thinking for them. Jeff reminded people to think, and gave an example of this thought processes about movies, and this movie in particular.

It's amazing how some of the commenters who have a contrary (to Jeff's) opinion of the movie have made false accusations or implications about what Jeff wrote or about the media standards that the LDS church teaches.

I've already pointed out the scriptures have all sorts of violence and immorality in them, but they don't paint the vivid detailed and enticing picture that movies or even romance novels portray. The violence and immorality in the scriptures is clearly labeled "bad, don't do that." Whereas movies and popular novels often portray violence and immorality as fun, exciting, and cool.

Anonymous said...

umm..jeff.. the joker didn't die, batman let him live.. and batman learns that he made mistakes when he let himself get out of control in the scene you mentioned. As noted before... this is proven by the fact that he doesn't kill anyone in the whole movie.. not even the Joker. The Joker even admits this to Batman at the end of the movie by telling him that he can't be corrupted because of Batman's moral code. And he also throws in the line "of an eternal struggle" between the two of them. Batman also tries to teach this lesson of choosing good over evil to Harvey Dent... who doesn't end up learning it very well.

I sutdied film at BYU and worked at the provo motion picture studio. I am also a musician. Seeing how Mormons react to art/music/movies etc is a topic that grates on my nerves. It would bother me when students I knew personally would walk out of films showing at the BYU foreign film institute..but would have no problem sitting and watching exploitive shows on TV such as "americas funniest home videos".

I HIGHLY suggest to all mormons to go watch "THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED". It exposes the myth of the ratings system. I used to think films were rated using some sort of test or code... but there really is no standard.

I also realized (while on my mission and also on tour doing music) that "rated R" or "pg 13" doesn't mean anything to people outside of the U.S. Other countries don't use the rating system. So how do Mormons follow this "rule" that the church has established? They use their common sense and the spirit. It was refreshing talking to Mormons in 3rd world countries that have a totally different view about art than Americans do.

I find that too many U.S.Mormons end up quickly condemning certain Arts wihout understanding them fully. This reaction I believe is due to the fact that Americans in general hold the Arts to a lesser degree of importance than other forms of education.. and therefore they don't have a real grasp of it at all. American Mormons sometimes come across like Richard Ashcroft puting sheets over the semi-nude statue of the spirit of justice..:)

Jeff,

I have been a big follower of yours for many years and have read almost all your material. Your writing has uplifted me and encouraged me to grow strong in my faith and to be courageous in openly discussing "taboo" mormon topics to non-believers (especially in the art community).

The problem I have with this post today is that I could turn the tables on you and say you shouldn't read any anti-mormon literature because it is morally degrading and will lead you astray. And the Prophets have all advised against it. And yet you read it and are considered "famous" for doing it. And somehow your testimony is stronger. You have also helped save many Mormons who may have been "on the fence" with their testimonies.

I think just as you "shield" yourself when you read anti-mormon literature, I too can shield myself and discern what is uplifting in what would seem to be an overtly graphic, violent film.

And just for the record.. best super hero movies ever:

1. The Dark Knight
2. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (not really super hero)
3. Batman (the original)
4. Superman 2 (#1 is tainted only because Lex luthor is just a clown and not a real villain)
5. Flash Gordon (Ming is the greatest villain ever)
6. Spiderman 2 (some say this is the best)
7. The Incredibles (one of the few good CGI movies)
8. X-Men 2
9.Unbreakable (this movie is so underrated)
10. The Crow (much darker than the knight)

anyone else have some favorites?

Anonymous said...

oh yeah... Satan also has all the best lines in the Endowment :)

especially the British satan!

Cassandra said...

Just to lend a perhaps unique perspective: two and a half years ago, after blowing him off several times with much the same reasoning advanced throughout everyone's comments here, I decided to try out my Bishop's counsel to give up all non-G-rated movies. Haven't seen anything not-G since that time (I have to simply avoid movies predating the modern rating system if I haven't already seen them and know them to be G-worthy, and I don't even have a t.v.). I'm a young single adult, and it's put quite the crimp in my social life, but I've soldiered on, partly because I like it, and partly because no one else does it and I've wondered how it would play out.

The diagnosis so far is that it's re-wired my brain in some really surprising ways. I'd adopted certain outlooks and modes of thinking without at all realizing it. The re-sensitization process has been fascinating and gratifying. And it could be pure hubris, but I feel like I actually have a better grasp of the interaction between culture and belief.

Not saying this as a general prescription. Just for what it's worth. I don't see any other way to really find out just what hold media does or doesn't have over you.

Roxy said...

I really like this post. I am one of the many people that goes to the theater at least twice a month. I love movies. And I don't listen to what critics have to say about them whatsoever. I'll be the one to decide whether I'll like the movie or not. If it turns out to be a waste of time and money, well at least I myself will know that.

I don't mind hearing anyone's opinion and I can be very open-minded, but it'll mean nothing to me until I test the water's for myself.

I saw the Dark Knight last week and I thought it was the best super hero movie I've ever seen. Probably because it was so very different in many ways, compared to the others. And I've seen all the Batman movies and all of them were a little too comical, in my opinion. Which is why I'm not much of a comic movie fan. But I enjoyed watching them. This new one is as real as it gets. I honestly think it was close to perfect. I just have to wonder if we had a superhero in this world, if he or she would be anything like this Batman in Dark Knight. We really have Psychopathic killers out there and we often look for or depend on a hero. I admit that this movie might not be suitable for anyone under at least 15 or so, but eventually they will grow up. And they will decide for themselves what is good to watch and what is not.

If I would've listened to all the negative reviews Harry Potter received from certain groups, I would have never read the books and never would've learned for myself that their is so much good in them. But I won't get in to that or I might just start wailing. It's true, it happens when I think about how close it's all coming to an end, but never in my heart.( forgive me for being such a dork.)

Harry Potter forever!!!

Jeane said...

Hello all--I've read with interest the comments concerning viewing certain movies and it's reminded me of a story I heard a long time ago. You may have heard it; I found it again just now on a search engine. Here it is:

What's in the Brownies?

Two teenagers asked their father if they could go to watch a movie that all their friends had seen. After reading some reviews about the movie on the internet, he denied their request.

"Aw dad, why not?" they complained. "It's rated PG-13, and we're both older than thirteen!"

Dad replied: "Because that movie contains nudity and portrays
immorality, which is something that God hates, as being normal and acceptable behavior."

"But dad, those are just very small parts of the movie! That's what our friends who've seen it have told us. The movie is two hours long and those scenes are just a few minutes of the total film! It's based on a true story, and good triumphs over evil, and there are other redeeming themes like courage and self-sacrifice. Even the Christian movie review websites say that!"

"My answer is 'no,' and that is my final answer. You are welcome to stay home tonight, invite some of your friends over, and watch one of the good videos we have in our home collection. But you will not go and watch that film. End of discussion."

The two teenagers walked dejectedly into the family room and slumped down on the couch. As they sulked, they were surprised to hear the sounds of their father preparing something in the kitchen. They soon recognized the wonderful aroma of brownies baking in the oven, and one of the teenagers said to the other, "Dad must be feeling guilty, and now he's going to try to make it up to us with some fresh brownies. Maybe we can soften him
with lots of praise when he brings them out to us and persuade him to let us go to that movie after all."

The teens were not disappointed. Soon their father appeared with a plate of warm brownies which he offered to his kids. They each took one. Then their father said, "Before you eat, I want to tell you something: I love you both so much."

The teenagers smiled at each other with knowing glances. Dad was softening.


"That is why I've made these brownies with the very best ingredients. I've made them from scratch. Most of the ingredients are even organic. The best organic flour. The best free-range eggs. The best organic sugar. Premium vanilla and chocolate."


The brownies looked mouth-watering, and the teens began to become a little impatient with their dad's long speech.


"But I want to be perfectly honest with you. There is one ingredient I added that is not usually found in brownies. I got that ingredient from our own back yard. But you needn't worry, because I only added the tiniest bit of that ingredient to your brownies. The amount of the portion is practically insignificant. So go ahead, take a bite and let me know what you think."

"Dad, would you mind telling us what that mystery ingredient is before we eat?"

"Why? The portion I added was so small. Just a teaspoonful. You won't even taste it."

"Come on, dad, just tell us what that ingredient is."

"Don't worry! It is organic, just like the other ingredients."

"Dad!"

"Well, OK, if you insist. That secret ingredient is organic... dog
poop."

Both teens instantly dropped their brownies back on the plate and began inspecting their fingers with horror.
"DAD! Why did you do that? You've tortured us by making us smell those brownies cooking for the last half hour, and now you tell us that you added dog poop! We can't eat these brownies!"

"Why not? The amount of dog poop is very small compared to the rest of the ingredients. It won't hurt you. It's been cooked right along with the other ingredients. You won't even taste it. It has the same consistency as the brownies. Go ahead and eat!"

"No, Dad... NEVER!"

"And that is the same reason I won't allow you to go watch that movie. You won't tolerate a little dog poop in your brownies, so why should you tolerate a little immorality in your movies? We pray that God will not lead us unto temptation, so how can we in good conscience entertain ourselves with something that will imprint a sinful image in our minds that will lead us into temptation long after we first see it?"

Jeane

Anonymous said...

In response to Jeane's post about the brownies.

This story has been circulating through Seminaries and YW/YM classes for years as an "example" of how we should remain "totally unspotted from the world." Variations on the theme include "well, would you allow just a little immorality, a little drinking, a little drug use?"

I'm sure Jeane's intent is good. But the story is totally unrealistic. Its moral is that a faithful Latter-day Saint should exclude from their lives everything that isn't 100% pure. Sorry, but that's impossible. Like it or not, we are in a very corrupt world. We will sin and make mistakes. We don't do ourselves any favors if we cut ourselves off from the ability to deal with that world and what it generates. Thomas Hardy wasn't too far off when he said "If way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst." I'm not advocating gratuitous indulgence in sin or corruption as a pretext for being able to fight it, but keeping ourselves "unspotted from the world" doesn't mean we have to be hermits. Nor does it mean that in the guise of "protecting their innocence" we should fail to teach our children—especially those approaching their teens—very explicitly about what's out there in the world, how to deal with it, and why. The story of the brownies depicts a father who would rather keep his kids so sheltered that when they finally left home, they would be completely unequipped to confront the world and choose righteously for themselves, for the right reasons.

As for me, I probably would have eaten one of the brownies. I'm sure I've inadvertently eaten far worse on Boy Scout campouts or Fathers & Sons outings.

Anonymous said...

Poopy brownies....sounds like something that Utah Mormans might do...at least I hope not. Ya know. i have to agree with what Anon on July 24th said. I have been to different countries and there are no ratings on movies there. I also found it odd but realized in my ethnocentric way that we can't judge others for not following rules of the Church that just don't apply. An Apostle/Prophet can advise us not to watch Rated R movies, but that doesn't work for those OUTSIDE of the USA. And on top of that, this isn't one of the questions we are asked when preparing to go to the temple. SO, it does come down to Spirit and revelation on the part of the viewer and probably some investigation as well.

Anonymous said...

It actually comes down to common sense. One should actually read what the movie is about, consider whether its something we want our children to see, and if it isn't apply some common sense and say no when the kids ask. This isn't that complicated an issue.

lorenhops said...

Why so serious, lets put a smile on that face!.

The Dark Knight was brilliant!

Walter said...

"Walking out is throwing money away."

Not if you sneak in in the first place . . . :-)

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought. Why would I pray about going to a movie. Its a movie, nothing more. Its not a statement about how life should be led, its not doctrine...its a movie. Nothing more. And I agree with Lorenhops, why so serious. Enjoy the film, or don't go to the film, but lets not be so serious about something as mundane as a movie. There are many far more important things in life to worry about.

death ledger said...

WHY SO SERIOUS!?!?!?!?!?!


HAhAhAhAHAHAHAHAHHAAhahahahAHAhaa