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Mormons and R-Rated Films

While various other authors have contributed comments and posts on this subject, perhaps no single individual has weighed in as frequently, as passionately, or as creatively as Rusty Clifton at Nine Moons. In October 2004, just prior to several other posts centered on the Passion of the Christ, Rusty wrote the following:

I'm distracted. And a bit peeved. I've been working on a post for some time now. It has great spiritual significance to me and have been formulating it in a way that I hope makes sense for those who might read it. However, tonight something has come up.

It has almost zero spiritual significance to me (and most members for that matter) and I am barely going to spell check this thing before posting it. Why would I post this one over the other? Because I'm so bothered I can no longer concentrate on that other post, no longer concentrate on school, not on work, not on seminary, I don't even remember my wife's name!

I found out tonight that the bishop of a close friend of ours has committed all the men in the ward to... never watch an R-rated movie ever again. Also, to never watch a PG-13 rated movie without his wife's permission... I vehemently object to the bishop committing members of his ward to the living of a non-commandment, non-church policy, non-doctrinal, non-recently-mentioned-in-an-official-setting-to-establish-it-as-anything-remotely-like-a-commandment,-church-policy,-or-doctrine...

...When did "no R-rated movies" become church doctrine, policy, or commandment? ... My biggest objection to this whole charade is why didn't the bishop commit them to something that could actually increase their spirituality rather than trying to help them avoid becoming "more bad"? Why not, "Will you commit to finding someone to talk with the missionaries within two months?" or "Will you commit to going to the temple once a month for the next six months?" or "Will you commit to studying your scriptures every day for the next month?"

This post is fascinating for a handful of reasons. First, it touched on multiple popular subjects in the Bloggernacle, such as local LDS leadership, revelation, Internet use (I omitted that part from the text above), and pornography. Second, it becomes clear as you read the comments what all the old veterans in the Bloggernacle mean when they say that the ‘Nacle was a tighter community -- it seems that virtually all of the comments (over 100 of them) were made by 5-6 people. Lastly, the outright condemnation of Rusty's blog because of his disagreement with the Bishop's tactics shows how completely insane some people are.

More recently, Rusty received a coveted Niblet Nomination for his touching, soul-baring "A Note to My Buddy, the R-Rated Movie."

Here's why I feel bad for you, R-rated Movie: You have been made a scapegoat. Because we can't measure our levels of charity, forgiveness, judgment, kindness and love -- you know, the things that Christ droned on about ad nauseam -- and because we can measure how many R-rated movies we are not seeing, as a tangible measuring stick you've become the biggest jerkwad in the room. I'm sure you've noticed that we are attracted to commandments we can live perfectly like tithing (on gross of course), half of the Word of Wisdom, monthly home teaching and avoid R-rated movies. Being charitable? Uh...I'm working on it. Forgiveness? I try. Love? I'm doing my best. But let me tell you about the difference between ratings in America and Europe...

It is nevertheless important to note that Rusty ("... frankly, violence doesn't bother me that much ... and I don't want to see man-parts in my entertainment."), Bob Caswell, and others don't necessarily hate the MPAA, but rather view it as an unhelpful guide to spiritually safe media consumption. Some bloggers have attempted to frame the battle over R-rated movies as class warfare between the elitists and the rednecks. One thing is certain, however: To proclaim loudly that certain movies are not appropriate in the Bloggernacle is to call down wrath!

3/2/2010 5:00:00 AM