A little over a year ago, we decided to get rid of cable. At the time, it was primarily a financial decision. We’d down-sized to a smaller home, were about to move to an even smaller home, and had scrutinized all of our spending to see what we could sacrifice in an effort to save more money and eliminate more debt. Cable seemed like an obvious choice, though we were a little bummed to say goodbye to it. We quickly found, though, that we didn’t really give up much, since so much of what we were watching was on Netflix and Amazon Prime anyway.
Rick and I love TV. I fully, unapologetically admit it. When the days are long and work-filled, it just feels so good to find the biggest bowl in the house, pile it high with smooth scoops of ice cream, and sink into one of the giant bean bags. The huge line down the right side of the screen where the pixels have died doesn’t even phase me. All I care about is whether Mr. Bates will get out of jail.
Sometimes, though, there’s nothing on that either of us is dying to see. So we’ll choose to watch part of a documentary that we started ages before, or we’ll watch little fifteen minute episodes of cartoons. This past week, however, we went out on a limb and watched the nearly three hour long latest installment of the Transformers saga. It took us three nights to get through it. Rick and I are fairly certain that Marky Mark had it in his contract that they had to show his biceps no fewer than 40,000 times.
Aside from streaming movies and TV, we often rent movies. We have one of those DVD players that edits movies according to the settings we choose. So it will take a rated R movie and turn it into PG-13 or even PG, based on what content we’ve chosen to cut or allow. But we’ve found that even if a movie can be edited through our Clearplay DVD player, that doesn’t mean we should watch it. Two of the last four or five movies we’ve rented have had shocking images or language make it through the edits. And two additional ones have just left us with an unpleasant feeling, so we ended up turning those off too.
Years ago, we found a website that reviews every movie that comes out, breaking it down into different categories from violence to language to sexual content. Lately we’ve been using this as a guide to know whether we should give a movie a shot or let it go unseen, even if it can be edited. And we’re finding more and more that our gut is generally as right as the website. Go figure, right?
Everyone has an internal compass. We have the influence of the Holy Ghost to help us know what’s good for us and what’s bad for us, even for something as seemingly inconsequential as trying to figure out what to watch. But what we watch sticks with us more than we may realize. In the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet we read that the things we choose to watch “can increase your ability to learn, communicate, and become a force for good in the world.” The counsel continues:
However, some information and entertainment can lead you away from righteous living. Choose wisely when using media because whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effect on you. Select only media that uplifts you.
Satan uses media to deceive you by making what is wrong and evil look normal, humorous, or exciting. He tries to mislead you into thinking that breaking God’s commandments is acceptable and has no negative consequences for you or others.
Some simple guidelines outlined in the church’s The New Era are intended for our kids, but can also help adults and parents in choosing what to watch:
Check the Rating:
• Whether it is the G-to-R rating system in the U.S., or another system, consider the reasons for the movie’s rating.
•Steer clear of films that are “unrated,” “uncensored,” or “uncut” versions.
Look up the Review:
• Watch for key words (“coming-of-age,” “edgy,” or “dark”) that might clue you into inappropriate content.
Sample a Different Genre:
If you ever feel fed up with your entertainment choices, try branching out. There are numerous genres to choose from that maybe you haven’t looked into before.
Talk to Someone You Trust:
When it comes to making entertainment choices, talk to someone who knows your standards, and ask for their advice.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
There isn’t one perfect method for rating or reviewing entertainment material, so even after you have done your research, much of the choice is still left up to you.
These suggestions seem pretty basic, but they have helped us steer clear of movies and TV shows that would otherwise pollute our minds and our home. And that’s a transformation worth taking time for.