1.20.2009

Film Anarchy

I was raised to appreciate the art of film. My mother is a writer and director, my brother is an independent film maker, and I ended up marrying a cinematographer. The rest of us are critics, discussing film the way some discuss politics. The Oscars are our election day.

So when Jared and I stopped seeing R rated movies over four years ago, you can imagine that it was not a decision we made lightly. Some of the most beautiful cinematography we've ever seen was in R rated films. Invariably, the most thoughtful, moving, and sober scripts are penned as R. Almost every movie nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards is rated R. 

But we couldn't deny that there was always a reason for the rating. We were tired of the swearing and the scenes that made us uncomfortable or nauseated. We were weary of watching a film, loving it, and then not being able to wholeheartedly recommend it to others. We hated the fact that Hollywood discounted our complaints as prudish, self--righteous and old fashioned. They just saw the money we willingly forked out for a ticket, and continued to produce the same. Our actions spoke louder than words.

So we boycotted R rated films.

For a brief time, we rented edited movies from various rental sources before the studios sued them out of business. {They allow content to be edited out for television and airlines, why not families? This still perplexes me.} J even worked for one such company for a short time. Though I appreciated the service he rendered for the benefit of others, I hated knowing he was watching the worst parts of a movie over and over... It was a relief when he quit {not to mention the pay was terrible.}

Now there's ClearPlay. We haven't tried it yet, but it sounds like the perfect have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too device. Unfortunately, using it means renting R rated movies again {and lesser ratings that we wouldn't see in theaters due to filthy content}.  Which gives money to the studios. Which tells them that we approve of what they're doing. Which we don't. 

So I'm torn.

We have a friend who goes to the movies every weekend. He buys a ticket for a movie he considers worthy of his financial support, and continues to buy it week after week, no matter which film he actually sees. He refuses to spend money on a film until it has his seal of approval. He calls it Film Anarchy.  

If only we could all be Film Anarchists. Maybe then Hollywood would get the message.

8 comments:

Those Crazy Clarks!!! said...

I love that idea. It is so wrong yet so creative. Still, not supporting the R rated filmmaking is only part of my motivation. Anything we allow into our minds eventually comes back out. Pure thoughts, right?

Shawn said...

Its hard not to watch R rated movies. I am a movie fanatic and being an actress, I have such a hard time not watching great acting!

I admire you----I wish that I could be as strong. I am very careful with what I watch---try to do research before I see it, but some bad ones do slip in----especially foreign films---they don't even rate those!

LisAway said...

I admit I was a tiny bit curious about your take on this subject, knowing that your husband is in the business he's in. Some friends of ours are in the film industry and most of the movies they own are R rated. I can completely understand not wanting to miss those amazing movies, especially since sometimes their R rating seems less deserved and some with a lower rating should certainly be R rated.

In Poland there are always at least a few movies on every night, and we watch them often. Unfortunately they are not edited at all and we have found ourselves happily watching movies that suddenly show something we didn't mean to see. And we used to check on ScreenIt.com to find out why it's rated R and sometimes would watch them anyway (it explains very well why there is that rating and sometimes there is ONE scene that gave it the rating, and we knew that we would know when to change the channel to completely avoid it.)

But I finally realized that this is lame. Now I just decided that I will NOT watch them if they're R rated. I would never dream of seeing one in the theater or renting one, so why would I watch one just because it's on TV? It was a bit hypocritical.
And I completely agree with you about the ban on editing movies for rental. That is just ridiculous. (and I agree about the poor editors. I thought about that any time I went to the Varsity theater at BYU.)

You have a great way of expressing clearly how and why you feel the way you do. Thanks so much for sharing. Again, this is just another reason to respect you even more.

Becky said...

I like the idea of paying for a good movie to show support for family values.

At BYU I took a film literacy class and was annoyed that half of the films we were required to watch and analyze frame by frame were rated R. My dad complained to admin, but I don't know if they ever changed that.

Em said...

Great post!

I love this topic...my husband and I have had to really check ourselves in not renting certain R movies we KNOW will be fantastic. It is a trial, but we're stronger for it, right?

Spymommy said...

I've always struggled with my older brother ( a professional photographer) who views rated R movies as art and nothing more.

I never saw a rated R movie until I left home for, of all places, BYU! And the first, and last one I saw was Silence of the Lambs. I didn't sleep for weeks - just the images I saw in that movie and the feelings I was left with after seeing it was enough to end it for me - I can say that it actually did damage to MY spirit. (this is only me speaking for me here.)

Though I know there have been many a cinematic masterpiece I have missed, I just won't view the beautfiul things for a chance that I could have those other feelings again. Not worth it for me.

moseyalong said...

I'm not a film anarchist, but I am incredibly choosy. Life's too short to watch a bad movie, or one that may have all the elements of fabulous, but make me cringe and duck under the blanket at gore or unsavory language.

I applaud the choice you and your husband made for yourselves, and how difficult it must have been.

I don't agree with censorship, and I feel that filmmakers are entitled to fight for the integrity of their art, so there's definitely a dilemma there that isn't easily resolved.

Thanks for sharing your thoughtful commentary.

marcee said...

I am exactly that- TORN! We've never really watched R-rated movies (except for a few in my rebellious teen years). So when the edited movies started emerging we were elated. That died out but then we got the Clearplay. I LOVE it! Watching movies is our favorite pasttime. Now we can do it without a single swear word or any graphic images- squeaky clean! We've also been able to watch some of the R-rated movies that we always heard were "great, but..".

HOWEVER, I have that uneasy feeling when I rent an R-rated movie. I am supporting the filth that produces the filth- even if my mind remains free from it. I guess the real answer would be to still use the clearplay but only to clean up the PG and PG-13 movies that we would normally watch anyway. (Like ET- I was mortified when I watched that with my kids!) Sigh... what to do, what to do...

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