Monday, March 7, 2011

On taking a step (a confession)

***NOTE***: This particular entry is about a doctrinal revelation that has caused a change in my life. I wanted to share it because I feel that this blog is a place for me to record events and thoughts that impact my current and future life. And this is one of those events. This blog concerns R-rated films. This really isn't meant to be a preachy entry or one that screams YOU SHOULDN'T WATCH RATED R MOVIES BECAUSE THEY ARE BAD!!! There are many rated R films that I think are very poignant and well done. For some of these films, there is a lot to be said for their depth and substance. I'm only telling the story of my life that led to where I am in terms of my film viewing and where I see myself being in the future.

You have been noted.

Being a member of a religion with the label of being a "peculiar people", there are many things we are asked to do to uphold our standards. There are numerous doctrines to follow and prophetic revelations to consider. It can be a challenge, human and mortal as we are, to "put off the natural man" and adhere to everything asked of us as members of this religion.

But we all try. Some things are easier than others, and many find that their challenge is not the same as another individuals challenge.

This is an account of one of my own personal challenges and how I am proceeding with it.

Before I worked for Movie Gallery and before Netflix was even a glimmer in my eye, I had no problem following the council to avoid rated R movies of movies with potential questionable content. I viewd a limited number of movies (because I was poor) and had no desire to pay money to see a movie that had excessive language, violence, or sexual content.

But with life comes changes and new situations that challenge us. For the first year I worked at Movie Gallery, I continued to avoid those kinds of movies previously mentioned. It wasn't always easy, but it was a standard I had held myself to.

I honestly cannot remember what the first rated R movie I saw was (unless you count watching Glory for a class. Maybe it was Pan's Labyrinth? Or Children of Men? One of those, I think.). I only remember that from that moment on, it became easy. I'd seen one, what was to stop me from seeing more? And they were all for free! I made all the usual excuses. Some rated R movies are less questionable that some PG-13 movies. As long as I read up on the films before hand and knew what I was getting into, I could avoid those scenes which held the questionable content. And I really didn't watch all that many after all. And I didn't see them in theaters.

I felt I was just fine in my movie viewing habits.

Then I saw Sweeny Todd. The first Rated R movie I saw in theaters.

It was already my favorite musical, I knew it was about killing and eating people. I figured I was safe. I knew what I was getting into. And a friend who had already seen it told me that the blood wasn't all that bad. So, I gather up my good friend Erin and onward we went. Yes, the blood was almost too red to be realistic and the music and acting was fantastic. But was it really necessary that I see this movie? At the time, I believed it was.

From there it was Slumdog Millionaire. A movie that floored me and, honestly, is still one of my favorites. Then it was District 9, then Paranormal activity. And so fourth.

I was still "careful" to decide meticulously what R movies I actually saw in theaters. In the mean time, it became easier and easier to watch R movies on the small screen.

Finally it happened. I saw a movie that was not all that critically acclaimed, and would probably be bloody. But I was stuck in the middle of the woods of southern New Hampshire. I wanted to get out and see a movie and this is what other people were going to see.

And so it was that I saw Daybreakers (a horrible movie, by the way. A little bit of me died that night). My standard had gone down and I was willing to see more and more rated R movies by whatever medium. I would go to and read up on them before I viewed them, but honestly that didn't often stop me.

Netflix made things even easier. I didn't even have to spend lots of MONEY on seeing rated R films. They were at my fingertips through instant streaming.

So, here I am. I stopped drinking caffeinated sodas because it was suggested we do so. I have never smoked, never had a drop of alcohol, never stolen, never killed anything more than a bug. But I was watching R films whenever I wanted to. They didn't even have to be good, or get a good review. I was just going for it because, why not? I had already watched many. What would one more do?

At the risk of sounding preachy and judgmental, I will simply say that I read a line in a book and it got me thinking. What is the real reason I view these movies? Is it for my enrichment, or my entertainment?

The answer is undoubtedly entertainment.

And so, I am taking a step. Making a decision. One that was so easy for me to make in my earlier life but is now a challenge because of my past actions. My Netflix queue is now rid of all rated R films both through mail and on instant. There were a lot of potentially good films that I deleted. It was really difficult. And it will continue to be so for a while. Whenever a movie comes out, I must once again pay really close attention to the rating and content. I won't be able to just say "sure lets go see it" no matter how good it looks. It will be a challenge to convince myself that even though 127 hours was critically acclaimed and The Hurt Locker won an Oscar, I don't HAVE to see them.

I'm not going to lie. It makes me feel sad. Like I am missing out on some really good films. I have this theory about the mediocrity of PG-13 films that I wont get into now for the sake of time. And I look at all the people in the world who watch R films and think to myself, "they aren't bad people. It's not like I see them and think they are killing themselves with a harmful substance or anything. Why can't I just be like them? What's wrong with doing what they do?"

It all comes back to that "peculiar people" thing.

So this is my decision. This is a step that I am taking to removing the clutter from my brain. I hope to open myself to brighter content and will thereby be able to write things that are inspired.

Again, I hope that none of my readers (namely family) think that I am going to judge them for watching R films. There are many R movies out there that have merit in them, that speak on controversial topics, that explore deep human experience and emotion. I am simply stating that I have made a change in my life. I know that each of us live the way we see best and that one person's decision to change their life does not give them the authority to expect that change from other people. Nor does it give them the right to judge those who do not live their lives the way that they do.

There, I think I have covered all my bases and made all the appropriate notes and addendums.

I suppose that I could simply not post this entry since it's on a personal topic and there is no need to share personal decisions on the internet (my NEXT entry is going to be on social media and the technological generation by the way).

But it's already written.


genevieve said...

I feel like I'm your stalker lately. :) But your entries are TOOO GOOOOOD to not comment on!!

I really, really liked this. I began reading with extreme trepidation, because I don't agree with so many aspects of religion (and not just yours--almost everyone's!)...but I love your reasoning. It shows how true your faith is. You're not choosing this because it's convenient or makes you feel like you're better than others (which, I think, is a very common motivator for many religious folk).

I love the idea of Rumspringa...when a religion calls for extreme devotion and faith, and actions that are pretty much required, I FIRMLY believe that kids should be able to experiment how they wish (as they grow older, of course) so they arrive to adulthood knowing THEY are choosing their religion after seeing the alternatives, whether or not it's the same as their parents'.

I don't really have any friends other than Emily who I can talk to about their faith and it NOT turn into a "HEY WON'T YOU JOIN OUR CHURCH OR YOU WILL BE IN HELL" kind of thing. I so appreciate learning more about you this way.

P.S. You're not preachy AT. ALL.

Julina said...

@Genny-I hope this means you can talk to at least one other Lambson (namely, Sarah) about faith without feeling preached at ;) Heck, I hope you can talk to any of us Lambsons, but that gets beside the point...

Sarah-As usual, you are very articulate in explaining yourself and sharing your faith. I agree w/ Genny that it shows how true your faith is. And I wish you luck in avoiding the onslaught of media you don't want to engage with. Maybe it will get easier by seeing less movies=seeing less trailers=less opportunities to be seduced by them... Or not. In either case, God bless :)

genevieve said...

@Juli - Of course! I'm just generally uncomfortable asking people about their religion because they tend to take that interest to mean I want to join up.

Kirsti said...

I've been thinking a LOT about this as well. Being the film geek that I am and my (possible) future in the film industry kinda has me pressured to see films that I don't necessarily have interest in just for the sake of film. I watched "The Kids Are All Right" and although the acting was good, I felt AWFUL for watching it. It wasn't that good despite the Oscar nominations, and the content wasn't worth it.
Anyways, Tamara Kitchen does the same thing except she eliminates both PG-13 AND R-rated films. And although I try and convince her that Lord of the Rings will benefit her soul and overall well-being, she stands true to her standards. And I admire her (though am frustrated sometimes) for it.

Good luck, and I'm sad that you won't see two of my favorite films EVER (127 Hours and The Hurt Locker).

Peeser said...

Well-stated. I appreciate that you shared your journey with us because that helps keep you from sounding "preachy"- instead, it simply allows us to understand how you arrived at a decision that is obviously important to you, regardless of how important it may or may not be to others.

Thank you.

Sarah Lambson said...

GENNY! I LOVE that you read my blog. Even more than that I love and appreciate your encouraging comments. Keep on stalking (hehe)!

Thank you all for your comments. I was a little hesitant to post this entry, but I am glad to see it has had a positive effect rather than a negative one.

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