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Hitchhikers and Hoboes

Conscience, Movies and the MPAA Ratings

Noah (theonlyNoahyouknow) was in town and I spoke to him about movies and he ranted how silly was the American MPAA rating system. In Germany, he said, there was no such thing.

In astonishment, I gasped: How, then, do you know what you can watch?

They read movie reviews.

If you’re a moviegoer, you want to shield yourself and family from filthy, gory or sicko films, but how do you do it? How do you avoid grossout scenes before you know they exist?

Because the American movie rating system is so easy to access, a fair number of our people have, in effect, made it their conscience. They will be safe, they feel, if they just avoid R rated films. Trouble is, the technique doesn’t work too well.

For one thing, if R’s represent the line in the sand, then anything higher on the scale must be okay. But as any moviegoer knows, a PG-13 movie can easily be more filthy than an R. Directors long ago learned to sidestep ‘R‘ triggers, even while loading their films up to the limit with stuff you don‘t want to see. And sometimes R films are so rated for relatively innocuous reasons: one too many f-bombs, for example. (a PG-13 is allowed one, which is a guarantee that one will appear, usually in the most in-your-face manner imaginable!) Of course, nobody likes f-bombs, but if you work or school in an environment where hundreds of such bombs are raining right and left, you may not even notice 3 or 4 in a movie.

Of course, R’s at their worst are nastier than PG-13’s at the worst, so if you don’t read reviews, it might be best to avoid both categories. Don’t just go see them at random, not if you care about avoiding sordid stuff. You might as well play Russian Roulette.

A lot of reviews don’t really tell you too much about what will make you gag, but some do. On the internet, kids-in-mind, and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops both serve pretty well. To be sure,  the mental image of a room packed with Catholic Bishops eagerly watching Freddy Krueger so as to slap it with a thumbs down rating (presumably) always makes me smile.

Now….all this searching and reading and screening is a lot of work just for the sake of movies. Are movies essential to life? No, they are not. “I’ll just avoid them all, unless I hear on sure testimony that this or that film is okay.”

That is a valid position, which some of our people take. For others, however, there are reviews.

Here are the two sites mentioned, both set for the film Cars: (which carries the Sheepandgoats endorsement)

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'



I realize this is an old post, but I would like to add that Common Sense Media ( has become a wonderful tool for sifting out the not-so-savory movies, books, etc.

tom sheepandgoats

I see that no one's ever commented on this post, Larissa, so I welcome yours....old post or not. Thanks.

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