By Sarah Carlson, Arts Editor
I Am The Enemy
While reading a letter to the editor last semester in response to my column regarding ABC affiliates not airing an uncut and R-rated Saving Private Ryan, I was struck by the last line: “… Christians need to learn where to draw the line between art and sin.”
The writer was discussing mainly why the movie should not be shown on network television during primetime hours. What struck me was the word “sin.”
What sin? Whose sin? Is it a sin that the movie is rated R in the first place, or a sin because of the content that garnered the R rating, or a sin because the violence of the film was based on reality, or a sin that I, as a Christian, thought it should be aired uncut on network television?
I’m hoping none of these represent the right answer because art cannot be classified as a sin simply when the one viewing the art disagrees with its subject matter. Viewers may find a film, a painting or a piece of music revolting yet still call it good and appreciate it for its inherent value without sacrificing their ethics.
I remember my youth group days when my youth minister would swear off R-rated films to make a point, although I never could quite figure out what that point was. I think we were supposed to be impressed and follow his lead away from “sinful” movies. However, he managed to sneak a few R-rated flicks in here and there, eventually abandoning his abstinence from the rating.
Now here is my problem: How can you group every movie that is rated R under the title of “sinful,” or in the same general rated-R category at all? Lumping films such as The Godfather with American Pie, Shakespeare in Love with The Girl Next Door, or Schindler’s List with Scary Movie is an insult and an obvious blunder. They are of such different quality that their content must be taken into consideration and not just their rating.
The ratings system was designed to warn parents of the amount of certain kinds of content, whether it be violence, sexuality or inappropriate language, before they sent their kids off to the theatre. However, just because a movie is rated R does not mean it is worse in a moral sense than one that is PG-13, many of which are not suitable for children as well.
I understand why some Christians choose not to see many R-rated films because of their content. A vulgar slapstick comedy is generally less than enriching. However, many Christians who flee from R-rated films sprinted to the theatre last year to see The Passion of the Christ, easily the most violent movie I’ve ever seen. Not only this, they took their children to see this unbearably graphic film.
They defended the rating and violent content and made an excuse, but it was a fallible one. It was what the viewers brought to the table-the idea that what they were seeing really happened, and not just to anyone, but to their savior. The horrific events of D-Day as depicted in Saving Private Ryan happened, too; why should these sacrifices not be honored or considered?
Individuals must set their own boundaries on what they want to watch and what they will let their children watch, but they should not be so quick to judge others for their choices. Too many times I have heard unnecessary comments or read scathing letters condemning previous arts editors for bringing down the name of Christian in ACU by recommending a movie with nudity in it.
We appreciate and love movies because of the stories they tell and the emotions they raise in us, not because of their ratings. I can respect someone who chooses not to watch a movie because of its content, but not if they arbitrarily avoid it because of its rating.