Why: I don’t watch R rated movies

I watched a movie over the weekend that was rated “R.” I thought it would probably be for some foul language mixed with violence. They also mentioned a bit of partial nudity which usually means a woman’s backside. Since I have one of those, I wasn’t too worried.

But the movie turned out to be a bit gory. I shut my eyes for a good portion of it. I wanted to quit, but I have this desperate need for closure, and since the movie ended up being a bit scary, I really needed the closure so I knew those bad guys weren’t out wandering the streets.

But the movie started with a home invasion, and after that scene, I knew it was going to be several days before I was truly okay. You see, I was housesitting that same weekend, in a place where the wind howls all night around the homes and the dogs have a fight at least once a day and the heater makes this awful metallic whining noise that is a bit creepy in the middle of the night.

So, each night, I had to make a friend come over and walk through the house with me, to ensure that I was alone and safe. I’m twenty-three. I shouldn’t be so easily frightened.

But that scene keeps replaying in my mind. Not only that one, but others from the movie as well. And it disturbs me, not because I’m afraid of someone invading the house I’m watching or the apartment I live in. Right now, the sun is out, I can see neighbors doing yard work, the dogs are mostly getting along, and I’m more concerned about lunch than about someone entering the front door and stabbing me.

What disturbs me is that there are people out there who are socio paths and do these things. And it disturbs me to have those images in my mind. It also unnerves me that people can write these scripts, and act the parts and then they walk away as though it’s no big deal. Not only that but we watch these movies, and we think it’s okay to watch a man and his wife be attacked for no reason, to watch their little girl be killed by two druggies. We find it somehow enjoyable to watch such things. In fact, we almost cheer the father on when he exacts vengeance on those who took his family from him! We cheer him on, despite the gruesome nature of the killings he performs in the memory of his loved ones.

This is gross.

How can we do that, how can our culture celebrate such things?

As a Christian, there’s a whole other dimension to it. How can I say that I’m thinking on what is pure and holy if I’m watching such atrocities while enjoying my Ben and Jerry’s and attempting a relaxing night after a long afternoon spent in the book of Ephesians and lexical studies? It’s ironic and it seems contradictory.

I’m always frustrated after a movie that’s rated R. There are only three in my memory that haven’t completely freaked me out. (Gladiator, The Patriot and Braveheart) Even those three were painful to watch at certain moments and they aren’t movies that I own. I can’t watch movies like the one this weekend because they actually frighten me, they don’t help me to meditate on good things and they actually take away my hope for humanity because there was nothing redemptive in the story. There was only blood and violence and destruction.

Those aren’t things I think a Christian (or any person) should spend their free time focusing on.

What do you think? Write off all movies that are R? Or try to sift through the ones with gratuitous violence and sex for the ones that do have meaning and weighty significance to their stories?


6 responses

  1. I’m almost 78 yrs. old and I have only seen one R rated movie, The Patriot. The scene that grossed me out was where all the people from the village were herded into the church, then the church was torched. Thinking about that for days I vowed I would never “trust” another R rated movie and I don’t feel as if I have missed anything. In fact the only movie I have seen since was The Passion and I wept through most of it. I like movies that make me happy and feel good. Cut the R rated ones Sara, they are not for Christians. You will feel better too. Grandma

  2. The King’s Speech is a rated R movie that I would recommend. The only reason it is rated R is for language. The language isn’t gratuitous or pervasive. I agree with you on most rated R movies and a lot of PG-13 movies. I don’t need that stuff in my head making me fear. God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear… I often read the reviews on PluggedIn.com. They don’t blantantly tell you what to think, but let you know what language, violence, sex, religious issues that are in the movie.

  3. I’m in High School and I had to tell my AP Literature teacher that I wouldn’t be able to watch a film in class because it was rated R. Awkward? Yes. Strengthening and warm fuzzies? Also yes.

    Everything we look at, listen to, read, watch etc has an affect on us, whether we realize it or not. It gives me hope to know that there are other people that believe that watching R rated movies isn’t beneficial. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • I had a similar situation happen when I was in eighth grade. We had just moved (again) and I was still trying to settle into a new house, new school, new friends, new “home”, etc. I felt like I was just getting a hold on things when my history teacher announced we were going to watch a movie in class that was rated R and we would need signed papers from our folks. I knew the moment she handed out those sheets that my mum would say no. Super awkward. Super frightening as a 13 year old to explain to friends and a teacher. It didn’t help that the teacher seemed to rebut what I had to say and essentially insinuated that it was wrong or naive. But looking back, I’m proud that my family took a stance and said a movie rated R for violence was inappropriate for a class of 13year olds.

      You’re right. Everything we watch and listen to has an affect on us. I don’t think I had the same perspective in high school or college. I thought I was a bit more impervious then. I watched movies, played games, engaged in conversations that I now regret. Part of what most frustrates me now is that I’ll have to live with images from movies, thoughts and lines from jokes, etc. They will always be a part of my brain chemistry. It’s not about what is permissible. It’s about what is beneficial. For me, for many people I know, things like R rated movies aren’t beneficial or helpful. So why would I waste time with that?

      Thanks for the comment. It was encouraging to read your thoughts as well. And it was challenging to see that you, as a high schooler, knew what I am only just now rediscovering at age 23. Keep with it, my friend.

  4. Thank you. You’re very kind. I can’t take all the credit though; I follow the standards in “For the Strength of Youth” by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

    I find that if I want to know if the principles and ideas are true, I simply need to put them to the test – and I’ve found every single time I choose to do these things (ie. not watch R rated movies, choose uplifting media, dress with respect, etc.) that I am happier; I feel confident, empowered; my mind is clear, and I feel at peace.

    Regardless of whether or not you’re religiously inclined, I encourage you to sincerely put some of the other standards to the test, and I promise you will see the wisdom and joy in each one.



    • I am actually incredibly religiously inclined, I’m attending Seminary currently for a graduate degree in Theology.

      I had quite a few friends growing up who were LDS. I still keep in touch with a few–had coffee/hot chocolate with one of them the week after Christmas while he was in town on break from BYU Provo. It’s always encouraging and challenging to talk with him. In many ways we are incredibly similar. In others we diverge–usually on more esoteric theological points. But I have a great deal of respect for the LDS friends I had growing up and the way in which many of those families hold so strongly to things the world says are foolish, unnecessary or limiting. Really, those things are usually what enslaves people and, as you pointed out, cause a good deal of disappointment and unhappiness.

      All that to say, yeah, I’m religious. And I think it’s awesome that you have had some tangible ways in which to test your faith and have come out on the other side with even stronger conviction.

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