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Monday, January 20, 2014

I don't watch movies with an R rating.

Some people will suppose that this is because LDS people have been cautioned to use good judgment when choosing what they watch (and R-rated movies have been specifically mentioned as things to avoid), and I am part of that group. But anyone who knows me understands that blind obedience isn't really my style, and it's rare for me to do something simply because I've been told to (or told not to, as the case may be). Imagine having me as a child...yeah...I was a bit obstinate. So I'm not an adherent of the popular saying, "When the prophet speaks, the debate is over." I'm pretty sure I'm an Old Testament candidate for flood victim, wilderness wanderer, or pillar of salt. That's just who I am.

My choice to avoid rated R movies (and some PG-13 movies) was made when I was quite young and I encountered my first triggering violent movie. Television is not the big screen, and I found that my tolerance for violence (especially sexually related violence) went way down when it was large and in my face and I had no control over the volume. I've often said that I don't identify with movies and I'm constantly aware that an actor is playing a role--and I appreciate it when it's done well. But there are times when something triggers a memory, it could be a sight, a sound, or just a situation, and when that happens, I'm no longer watching the movie on the screen but am, instead, a victim of that triggered memory.

I recognized, after a rather unfortunate date, that if the violence in a PG-13 movie could trigger me, probably the degree allowed to be portrayed in an R-rated movie would be lengthier, or more intense, or more frequent, and because I was embarrassed that I left the theater with my date with no idea of what had happened in the movie, I decided I would not put myself in that position again. And I didn't.

My resolve to stay away from R-rated movies was further strengthened when I spent a year living with my outspoken, rather loud, mother-in-law, who declared her undying enthusiasm and enjoyment of slasher movies based on real life (I believe her favorite was Scar Face). I found her need to describe the bloody Hollywood depictions of the horrific crimes, with not a word spoken about the victims or their families, to be ghoulish at best. Mother-in-law was not accepting of my assertion that I just didn't want to watch--so the mormnorm edict became a convenient crutch for my escape when the movies were shown in the evenings, and I was grateful it existed.

It's rare for me to go to a movie theater and choose from the list of available movies. I will almost always research what I wish to see so I know what I'm up against, before deciding whether or not I'll be safe when I view it. It's just a good idea for me.

My reluctance to view films with sex and violence has been misconstrued by many people. And some believe I judge them harshly because they choose to watch movies I do not. I'm often overwhelmed with excuses or explanations of why the movie has merit, in spite of its rating. I'm told that they know we're not "supposed" to watch rated R movies. I'm prodded to just watch it with them and they'll edit out the "bad" parts.

They don't understand. I don't really care what they choose to watch. It changes nothing in my opinion about, or love for, them, any more than knowing that they eat ice cream daily would alter my feelings or opinions. But I am frustrated that they cannot accept my decision not to watch, and I feel a great deal of stress as they attempt to goad or persuade me. They don't know that I feel I am less of a person because my ability to process the types of situations I see on the screen is diminished by the violence I have experienced in my life, and that I am embarrassed and a little bit angry when I have to explain. I feel, instead, that they do not care about my feelings when my quietly spoken, "Maybe we could choose a different movie, please?" is met with resistance and little understanding.

So for future reference, should I decline a movie invitation, please go without me and enjoy yourself. Or if you wish to spend time with me, help me choose a different movie or activity we both can enjoy. Let's just forget for a moment, that there are any religious guidelines that apply to me, and just believe I'm an adult who makes good decisions for myself--because sometimes I do that.

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