by Dr. Glen C. Griffin
Editor’s Note: The CAMIE Awards for Character and Morality in Entertainment will be presented November 21 at the World Congress of Families Meeting in Arizona sponsored by United Families. If you would like to come to the conference or be a part of the special leadership meeting on Friday, please write us at [email protected] If you can’t go to the meeting, but would still like to be a part of defending marriage send us your contact information to the same address. To learn more about the conference go to www.unitedfamilies.org to learn more.
“Was the show any good?”
“So, why did you see it?”
“A friend said it was good.”
Shows are often seen based on the recommendation of a friend. Sometimes the recommendations of others may be helpful-if their values and judgments are the same as yours. But, you really have to know someone well, and how they think, to be confident about being steered correctly. Unfortunately, it’s so easy to become desensitized that many people become oblivious to inappropriate scenes, language, and situations. Movie reviews also may mislead us into seeing movies with content that makes good seem evil and evil seem good. Sadly, such reviews sometimes appear even in newspapers and on radio stations that should hold higher standards. It’s not hard to understand why movie reviewers often become desensitized. When someone’s job is to see every major movie that comes out, a show without quite as much sex or gross violence may seem acceptable to them.
So, how do you choose movies to go see in the theater-and how do you find videos or DVDs to rent or buy?
You’ve probably noticed that ratings are not much help these days and that their standards have nose-dived over the past few years-especially recently. There’s more and more profane and crude language in shows today-even in those with so-called family ratings. There’s more grossness-just to be shocking. Is it any wonder there’s so much violence and gore in society after such scenes are seen repetitively? There’s also more sex and toilet humor-even in shows with so-called family ratings.
The point is that the rating systems are so flawed, they are almost worthless.
Since ratings don’t help, what about reading the movie posters or the DVD or video packaging? That’s a pretty good idea-if a red flag shows up, warning you not to see it. However, all too often, there’s a sleeper that hits you part way through the show-sometimes so gross or sexual that wise people get up and walk out-or smash the off button on the remote. It would be better to avoid getting in the situation in the first place.
“One can still find movies and TV comedies and dramas that entertain and uplift and accurately depict the consequences of right and wrong,” Elder M. Russell Ballard explained in the October 2003 general conference. He warned that “The choices we make in media can be symbolic of the choices we make in life. Choosing the trendy, the titillating, the tawdry in the TV programs or movies we watch can cause us to end up, if we’re not careful, choosing the same things in the lives we live.”
Just think how effective the adversary is in selling sex. “Immorality and sexual innuendo are everywhere, causing some to believe that because everyone is doing it, it must be all right. This pernicious evil is not out in the street somewhere; it is coming right into our homes, right into the heart of our families,” Elder Ballard explained.
Worrying about the negative influence of so many shows, several of us established a free website service to help people find wholesome movies without having to read line after line of explicit information and without having to search through dozens of films to find one that might be acceptable. www.moviepicks.org was created by a non-profit foundation that is now known as CAMIE awards, Inc. for Character And Morality In Entertainment.
At first, our reviews, left much to be desired and the first generation of our website was quite primitive. Little by little the reviews became better. And now our website is in its 5th generation-which will soon be upgraded to a much more colorful and more user friendly 6th generation site.
The process of creating movie reviews was greatly improved when Lisa Hawkins became the Managing Director of moviepicks.org. Besides being an expert movie buff, Lisa is an excellent writer and an outstanding editor, which I learned as the two of us founded and directed the Marriage and Families magazine for the BYU School of Family Life, during the magazine’s early years.
Many people have been involved in reviewing movies and writing reviews for moviepicks.org-experienced writers, as well as BYU interns from the School of Family Life, and journalism students from the Communications Department. As we grow, our database of shows will increase and some of our earlier reviews will be updated. So, if you enjoy good uplifting movies, know how to write, and would like to become a reviewer for moviepicks.org, contact us. Or if you think of an uplifting film we’ve missed, or one that shouldn’t be there, let us know.
On moviepicks.org you can find out about shows that can be enjoyed without being offended. You’ll find out about the few uplifting and entertaining movies playing in theaters-and ones that will premier on television. You can also find uplifting older shows indexed in several categories of interest: comedies, dramas, faith, history, kid shows, musicals, and seasonal-as well as tips about worthwhile programs on television.
If you wonder why many popular movies are not on moviepicks.org, the answer is that their content doesn’t meet our standards of decency. There is a basic minimum standard. Immorality and gratuitous violence are not acceptable. Neither are shows filled with profane language. When a show has some language that isn’t quite right, we try to suggest using a filter when seeing it.
Although we think that if something is garbage for kids, it’s garbage for all of us, we know there are different levels of interest for different ages. There are also certain situations that may be worrisome for children in adoptive or other special situations, which we try to call attention to in our reviews. Are our reviews always perfect? Of course not. But we try-and we think moviepicks.org is the best place to find out about uplifting movies that we know about-without offensive content. We think moviepicks.org is a great resource for families.
What Do We Mean by Decency?
Decency means “conforming to standards of propriety, good taste and morality,” and being “free from immodesty or obscenity.” We look for shows that meet this definition, provide enjoyable entertainment, while uplifting and building character. We are talking about being much more selective than just eliminating shows that have gratuitous violence or gross sex on the screen. We don’t want to see shows that would fill our minds with filth-and we don’t. And we don’t want to fill the minds of our BYU student interns or any of our other reviewers, with trash. So, we pre-eliminate most of them. This means that not many of today’s shows made for the theater get their reviews on moviepicks.org. The really uplifting and entertaining ones do. Our reviewers spend lots of time finding shows with standards high enough to be on moviepicks.org so you can feel confident the movies you find here will be decent, uplifting-and entertaining.
We already have a good database of reviews of older shows that can be seen at home-and we are constantly adding to these good old classics. But if you can think of an older movie that meets our standards that’s not on moviepicks, let us know about it. And if you enjoy good uplifting movies, know how to write, and would like to become a moviepicks reviewer, let us know that too.
But, Does It Really Matter?
You know that it does. But if you want some pointers on what to say when someone tells you that it doesn’t matter, or rationalizes, “It’s a good show-except one little part,” in the next article we’ll talk about shows that have just one little part that would fill our minds with garbage.