Our Friend’s Tutor
Have you ever wondered where movie ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) come from?
We have a good, conservative, active LDS friend who feels that it is her duty to use a trusted personal tutor in her home hours in nearly every week. We happen to know this tutor well. This tutor is extremely charismatic and entertaining. Sadly, and completely unbeknownst to our unsuspecting friend are the values of this experienced tutor. We happen to know this tutor threw his support behind Hillary Clinton’s promotion of abortion, birth control and other family planning issues declaring “Hillary Has Always Been On the Front Lines of Families’ Health”. He endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008 and spent countless hours supporting the Democratic National Committee, endorsing the liberal values of the party platform, including LGBT rights, same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and so forth. This tutor has also done all he could to subtly, line upon line, promote Darwinism, Socialism, Rationalism and other anti-Christian ideals. He has worked consistently to make darkness appear light and light appear as darkness.
Each of our good friend’s impressionable children spend time each week soaking in the progressive ideals of this very subtle and calculating tutor. At times, our good friend questions the values of this mentor. She hears her children express new opinions that contradict the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and she sees evidence that her children are becoming alienated from the timeless ideals of our Constitution and inspired Founding. At times, our friend’s conscience undoubtedly prompts her to question whether she should be trusting this tutor. But she evidently brushes these impressions aside because of the ratings. “The ratings, the ratings. It’s safe to trust this tutor!” she says with a confident smile. “Everyone in the ward trusts this tutor!” she continues.
How do you feel about our poor, trusting, naive friend? What will be the inevitable fruits?
Please don’t judge our friend too harshly. We know something about our friend that you likely do not: Our good friend just might be you!
“How could this be me?”, you ask. Stay with us, you may be surprised.
LDS parents trust the ratings
Have you ever wondered where movie ratings (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) come from? Movie ratings are assigned by an independent division of the Motion Picture Association of America, the Classification & Ratings Administration (CARA). Films are voluntarily submitted to a board and rated for certain audiences. We used “the tutor” as an analogy of the Motion Picture Association of America and CARA. According to our survey, LDS parents overwhelmingly and consistently trust the ratings administered by the MPAA. This system determines the films LDS children are allowed to watch and influences the values of nearly every Mormon home.
Is this wise? What if we investigated the values behind the movie ratings? What if we pulled back the mask from this “tutor” to reveal an institution that embraces the principles of progressives working around the clock to change America? What if we discovered bias toward same-sex marriage and anti-family values? What if we discovered that this trusted “tutor” is perhaps one of the primary tools today in undermining latter-day saint homes? Are we brave enough to follow the truth wherever it may lead?
Let us learn a little more about the “tutor”.
“The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) supervises a board of 8 to 13 members who work for the Classification and Rating Administration (CARA).”1 As we began researching the Motion Picture Association of America, we were surprised to learn that this board consists of individuals whose names are never revealed to the American public. The entire operation is kept top secret. In other words, who is determining whether a film is appropriate or not? Well, now you have the answer! You are not allowed to know. The identity of these individuals is shrouded in mystery. Why does this “tutor” insist on remaining anonymous? Why do we trust an anonymous board with the training of our children? Judges, who daily make life altering decisions, are fully disclosed to the public. Most parents are careful to know who their children play with. Why is this masked “tutor” trusted to determine whether a film is appropriate to infiltrate our homes?
Chris Dodd is the chairman and chief executive officer of the MPAA (The Motion Picture Association of America). A brief overview of his life is disconcerting. “He is a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton tapped him to serve as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1995 to 1997.”2 The man who ultimately determines the guidelines used by over 125 million homes to determine what is appropriate viewing material endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008.
In 2009, Dodd announced his support for same-sex marriage.3 This year, 2016, Dodd threw his support behind Hillary Rodham Clinton declaring “Hillary Has Always Been On the Front Lines of Families’ Health”4. Chris Dodd is the chairman of the organization that assigns your movie ratings. If your family values align with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and the recent attack on traditional marriage, then by all means use the MPAA ratings when selecting your family’s films! If not, please reconsider.
The head of the Classification and Rating Administration for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is Joan Graves.5 Graves was appointed by Jack Valenti, the creator of the MPAA film rating system. You may be interested to learn a little more about the man who believed Joan Graves would be a suitable head to determine ratings for the movies your children watch. Valenti was a lifelong Democrat who was applauded by none other than Nancy Pelosi. Upon his death in 2007, Pelosi applauded his work saying,
“Jack Valenti was a true patriot who served our country with distinction . . . I take special pride in the life, leadership, and legacy of Jack Valenti. His brilliant career was marked by excellence, humanity, and humor.”6
When Jack Valenti left his position in the White House (under Lyndon B. Johnson) and became president of the Motion Picture Association of America, he replaced the previous guidelines (known as Hays Code) with his own rating system.7
“From the very first day of my own succession to the MPAA President’s office, I had sniffed the Production Code constructed by the Hays Office. There was about this stern, forbidding catalogue of ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ the odious smell of censorship. I determined to junk it at the first opportune moment”8
Why was Valenti disturbed by Hays Code? Was it the principle that “No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin.”? Or perhaps he was disgusted with so-called “strict” guidelines regarding adultery, profanity, violence, criticism of religion and so forth. The Hays Code set clear guidelines for motion pictures including the following rules:
- Pointed profanity (this includes the words, God, Lord, Jesus, Christ – unless used reverently – Hell, S.O.B., damn, Gawd), or every other profane or vulgar expression however used, is forbidden.
- Adultery, sometimes necessary plot material, must not be explicitly treated, or justified, or presented attractively.
- Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown.
- No film or episode may throw ridicule on any religious faith.
- Ministers of religion in their character as ministers of religion should not be used as comic characters or as villains.
- The reason why ministers of religion may not be comic characters or villains is simply because the attitude taken toward them may easily become the attitude taken toward religion in general. Religion is lowered in the minds of the audience because of the lowering of the audience’s respect for a minister.
- Sympathy with a person who sins is not the same as sympathy with the sin or crime of which he is guilty. We may feel sorry for the plight of the murderer or even understand the circumstances which led him to his crime: we may not feel sympathy with the wrong which he has done. The presentation of evil is often essential for art or fiction or drama. This in itself is not wrong provided:
- That evil is not presented alluringly. Even if later in the film the evil is condemned or punished, it must not be allowed to appear so attractive that the audience’s emotions are drawn to desire or approve so strongly that later the condemnation is forgotten and only the apparent joy of sin is remembered.
- That throughout, the audience feels sure that evil is wrong and good is right.
- See a complete listing on Joseph Smith Foundation, “The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 (Hays Code)”.
“Odious” rules indeed. Valenti condemned these traditional American standards as the “odious smell of censorship”. Upon assuming his position as president of the MPAA, he fulfilled his promise to “junk it at the first opportune moment”. While Valenti has passed on to discuss his principles with judges on the other side of the veil, his appointee, Joan Graves still oversees the ratings that likely determine the films you and your children watch. Do you trust their judgement? Should you trust their judgement? When you announce to your children that they are not allowed to watch a film because of the rating, what are you really saying? Please reconsider trusting this “tutor” to determine what is appropriate to enter your home?
MPAA claims that
“The Classification & Ratings Administration (CARA) hosts the rating board made up of an independent group of parents. CARA’s mission is to provide parents the tools they need to make informed decisions about what their children watch.”9
However, the reality presents a different picture. In a sequel, we will review specific films and analyze whether the rating is accurate, or rather reveals an anti-Christian value bias. We will discover that the fruit of this “group of parents” is anything but a trustworthy source of film recommendations. The problem is not new. In 1998, Kieth Merrill conducted an interview with the MPAA president at the time, Jack Valenti. Merrill discovered that:
“None of the board members has more than two children. . . . Movies are rated by eight to 13 men and women who are parents of one or two children each.”10
This was the state of the board eighteen years ago! To what low has it descended since?
The board of the MPAA remains entirely anonymous, but their bias is clearly evident. The MPAA website proclaims:
“Our members include: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios LLC; and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.”11
If you trust the values of shows such as The Simpsons and Modern Family, use MPAA ratings. If you admire producers who present films with gross immorality, violence, flagrant taking of the Lord’s name in vain and other mockeries of Christian values, use MPAA ratings. If you desire men and women who subtly and brazenly attack marriage, fathers, mothers, the Constitution, and other Christian values, to be your science, please continue to use MPAA ratings.
While the values of the Motion Picture industry should cause every reader to pause and rethink trust in the MPAA ratings, the question remains: does the personal character of Dodd, Graves, Valenti and the MPAA board significantly influence their work? The prophet Mormon offered his witness over 1500 years ago, warning against the deceptive lie that good fruit can come from a corrupt tree.
“Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
“For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.” (Moroni 7:10-11)
Have we forgotten or even ignored this prophetic teaching? If you know an author is anti-Christian, do you approach his literature with caution? If a movie producer is immoral in his personal life, do you recognize that his lifestyle influences his films? Chris Dodd embraces the values of same-sex marriage, abortion, LGBT lifestyles and socialism. Are we willing to accept that his bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water? Do we believe scripture when it clearly teaches that “a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ”? Why do we insist that a bitter fountain (anti-Christian individuals) can produce pure water (wholesome, accurate media ratings)?
Drinking from polluted fountains will never satisfy our homes with pure water. The decision may not be easy, but the path is clear and the consequences life-changing. The prophet Mormon advised of a truly safe rating system when he counseled:
“Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
“For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.” (Moroni 7:13-14)
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- “MPAA Movie Ratings (USA).” MPAA Movie Ratings Information for Parents and Families. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://parentpreviews.com/movie-ratings/usa>.
- “MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd: Trump ‘Is Doing What Demagogues Have Done’.” Variety. N.p., 28 July 2016. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://variety.com/2016/biz/news/chris-dodd-donald-trump-democratic-national-convention-1201825894/>.
- Becker, Bernie. “Dodd Endorses Gay Marriage.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 June 2009. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/dodd-endorses-gay-marriage/?_r=0>.
- “Hillary Has Always Been On the Front Lines of Families’ Health.” Medium. N.p., 29 Jan. 2016. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <https://medium.com/@ChristopherJDodd/on-the-front-lines-for-families-77269de9cf74#.h4xhstrq1>.
- “Why: History of Ratings.” The Film Rating System (CARA). N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://filmratings.com/why.html>.
- “Pelosi Statement on the Death of Jack Valenti.” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. N.p., 13 June 2014. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://www.democraticleader.gov/newsroom/pelosi-statement-death-jack-valenti/>.
- “Why: History of Ratings.” The Film Rating System (CARA). N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://filmratings.com/why.html>.
- as quoted in Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration, Thomas Doherty, pg. 330
- “Film Ratings.” Motion Picture Association of America. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://www.mpaa.org/film-ratings/>.
- Merrill, By Kieth. “MPAA Board Members Not Exactly the Same as the Average Parent.” DeseretNews.com. N.p., 28 Mar. 1998. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. <http://www.deseretnews.com/article/621121/MPAA-board-members-not-exactly-the-same-as-the-average-parent.html?pg=all>.
- “Our Story.” Motion Picture Association of America. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. http://www.mpaa.org/our-story/