Mormons and the Media

This is a post I wrote on Modern Molly Mormon, another blog I write for. After it's post, an overwhelming amount of comments and e-mails were made, mostly not in my favor. As a result of my little "non-conformist" view, the poor mediator of that blog had to enforce some new rules about not posting things that aren't congruent with the churches official stance on certain topics. Afterwards I posted an apology, but received e-mails and comments that were all of a sudden more supportive. So without further ado...

I feel it’s only appropriate to post on something I have experience in. For those of you who haven’t gone over to my profile, I am an account executive for an NBC affiliate. As you might imagine, the media has been a ginormous part of my life. Movies, music, Internet, billboards, television, newspaper…I’ve spent my college career studying these things in depth. So what have I learned? All media isn’t evil (as it turns out.)
Many of us easily shy away from certain types of media fearing it will "taint" us or our families. We need to understand that humans have a natural curiosity towards the unknown. Violence, sex, drugs, rape….all the “bad” stuff. This is why the particularly violent or sex themed shows are among the highest rated. Same with movies and music. Sometimes the media can help our children and ourselves understand the world around us. It doesn’t mean that we all want to be a part of this or take action and mimic these atrocities. By being exposed to different forms of media, we are able to develop a distinct line between good and evil, between right and wrong. We are able to understand our curiosities without acting on them. We are able to see what happens in the world in a fictional setting, versus a much more dangerous and real setting. This is also where good parenting comes in. Naturally our children might mimic what they see on TV or sing a dirty lyric they heard on the radio, which is really what we are afraid of if we allow our children to be exposed to such material. It’s our job to help them draw that mental line between “good” and “bad.” By completely shutting out certain types of media from our lives we only limit our knowledge of the real world. Not to mention the fact that the things we see on the news can be just as bad or worse than anything fictional. Now, I am not saying that watching a rated “R” movie with graphic violence and language in it is the best way to educate your family. But it IS a way. And it’s much easier to talk about it as a family than have curiosity take a turn for the worst. It’s also an excellent way to visually stimulate the minds of children about historic actual events. (Who wants to read about the Titanic when they can SEE the movie?)So when your six year old girl comes into the room and starts singing, “I kissed a girl and I liked it!!!” you can actually talk about it with her and explain what it means and why it's bad. Or when your son brings out his toy gun and starts shooting people, you can illustrate that he should be shooting the rapists and not the policemen. (Joke.) Since we are all “Modern” Mollies blogging on the Internet I don’t suspect any of you are completely stuck in the stone age.
I will say that we are part of a special group of people that take morality seriously. We are mothers, wives, and daughters who have standards. But we should also have open minds.
I personally am biased because I LOVE the media! I have learned more through media than at school! I admittedly watch rated R movies and listen to the Top 40 songs (which are often less than moral), but I am not a heathen. We are all different and have different takes on things that are appropriate. The important thing is to always keep an open mind, and experiment with new movies and media to keep a broad knowledge of what is out there. This way your children aren't blindsided when they are out in the real world and exposed to certain media for the first time.


A Girl Called Dallan said...

Thank you for this post. One of my pet peeves is the way so many judge a film by its rating rather than its merits. Just because a film is rated PG doesn't mean it is good. And just because it is rated R doesn't mean it is evil. There are plenty of places to read what a movie is all about before viewing it. I feel that many of the movies members of the church enjoy are destructive, and yet they justify their viewing by pointing to the rating. If it's not R, it's o.k.

I agree with you about the value of television, too. We need to be vigilant to not be desensitized or titillated, but not by throwing out everything. Finding what is "of good report and praiseworthy" among our many choices takes effort, but it is well-worth the search when it leads us to the true gems which are out there. I have found many such treasures, and I am thankful to live in such a time when they are available.

sjhollist said...

A good friend of mine's father used to work for the LDS church doing something that might be unbelievable to many, all in the name of research. He would view adult videos. I'm not sure what the real reasoning was behind it, but I imaging it was for much of the same reasons you mentioned in your post. My friend even told me that his father was given a special blessing that the material he was viewing wouldn’t affect him.
Let me contrast this with my own experiences. I haven’t always been active in the church, and have seen my share of rated R movies, HBO shows, and some other things I’d rather not mention; all of which had adult content that I today wish I had never seen. Even the images of violence were difficult to get out of my head when I finally came around and decided I didn't want those things in there. Although I do feel more educated and street wise as to the ways of the world, and have at times been annoyed by some rather naive people, these images and ideas today now only served to feed me negativity and un-peaceful thoughts.
I understand what you are saying in your post, but I would caution that we all have our weaknesses, and it can sometimes be difficult to understand them until they have fully consumed us. I’ve learned that the more time I spend focused on uplifting things, the more I find that I do not care for things that may be ok, but are not uplifting and/or have no real value.

SeattleSuz said...

Good for you for posting that. I agree with most of what you were saying.

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