When I was younger, I didn't have many interests except for computers, television, and reading; all sources of entertainment. Though my favorite toy was my Commodore 64, I still spent many an hour watching our old, discolored television set. You may remember me being a big fan of shows such as Growing Pains or Lizzie McGuire, but, during those times, if those shows weren't on, I was usually doing something else. Before most of you knew me, though, I was a pretty ardent television watcher, or couch potato, you might say. A big part of my TV diet over the years was the Problem Child movies, which originally came out in theaters when I was too young to remember, but aired on basic cable channels such as TNT or USA umpteen times over the years. I haven't seen one of those films since I was in high school, but, I recently watched a clip from the second film online...and was shocked by what I saw. I won't describe it in detail, but it involved two teenagers engaging in sexual activity, and a crowd of voyeurs watching. That kind of humor probably went over my head as a kid, but, now, I can't believe I was even allowed to watch such a thing; that's the kind of trash that I bashed my fellow Christians for watching...yet, I watched it several times, even as far back as when I was in elementary school! I guess I had no room to talk; if only I'd realized it back then.
That wasn't the only violation of my own rules; shows such as Hollywood Squares, Home Improvement, and even Diff'rent Strokes had right much content that I shouldn't have seen...but I still regularly tuned into those programs, and, with the former two, for quite a while. While I can't undo what I did back then, I can make a change for the future...and that's what I'm going to do!
Before I get to my rule--there's only one, because, to me, it's that simple!--I will share some of my thoughts on this topic. First off: It's easy to get suckered in by entertainment...especially for me. When you get involved in a show, movie, book, video game, etc., of course you want to see it through to the end; you'd only quit before you finished it if you didn't care for it. People with my "condition" tend to be more apt to stare at a screen or look at words on a page than others. I remember seeing an article online about a decade ago that linked TV watching to autism, saying that studies showed that infants and toddlers who watched more television than others their age tended to end up diagnosed with some sort of autistic disorder. However, most of the comments disagreed with the results; they believed it was the autism causing the TV watching, not vice versa. I've noticed myself sometimes unable to turn away from a television screen, even when it was showing something I'd rather not see. If I'm going to get involved in entertainment, I have to make sure it sticks to my rule...or else I should avoid it at all costs.
Second off: I don't want to play the ratings game. There's been much discussion over the years over the flaws in the MPAA rating system; I remember reading an article on Plugged In that told of a "PG-13" movie I won't name that even left the secular critics saying, "There are so many reasons this should be an 'R' film"...but, it wasn't. You may have known someone--or be/have been someone--who wasn't/isn't allowed to watch movies with certain ratings. I've said for a while that I don't watch "R" films, but, some would say "PG-13" ones are worse because of innuendo...which is exactly why I don't watch those unless they fall into the superhero, sci-fi/fantasy, or Christian genres! Besides which, many of the movies I've watched in recent years are telefilms or direct-to-video ones that will say "Not Rated" on the back cover, maybe alongside a Canadian rating, which is even more unreliable than one from the MPAA. Honestly, I don't think I could stick to just "G" films; I got burned out on Disney or Disney-style cartoons as a kid, watching movies such as Beauty and the Beast or We're Back!: A Dinosaur's Story umpteen times on video. Most of my DVD collection consists of TV shows, but, most of the movies I own or have owned/watched in recent years either are rated "PG" or "PG-13"--though not "R"!--or would be if they'd been submitted to the MPAA.
Last point before my conclusion: Just because something is for adults doesn't mean it is or has to be morally offensive. In recent years, "adult entertainment" has become the "G"-rated way to say "pornography"; I don't know why they won't just call it what it is. Still, at the library where I work, we don't have any such DVDs, but we still do have an "adult" section and a "juvenile" section, as well as a "young adult" one. The "adult" section has books, DVDs, and CDs that are catered to an older audience. Sometimes, that does mean an "R" rating...but it doesn't always. You'll find plenty of clean media, such as old-school television programs, Hallmark Hall of Fame telefilms, and classic Disney live-action movies, in the DVD section alone. While such media may be clean, that doesn't mean young children or even teenagers will appreciate it or even understand it. When I was a kid, I had a computer game called A-Train that I never would have understood if my brother-in-law hadn't helped me play it. The content was completely clean--definitely no profanity, sex, nudity, drug use, etc., and not really any violence either--but it wasn't for young ones because it was just too complicated. It's the same with plenty of entertainment out there; it may be fine morally, but that doesn't mean it's appropriate for the younger crowd.
Okay, now here is for my rule:
If I don't want my friends or family members to know I watched or read it...
If I would be embarrassed to read or watch such a thing in public or within the doors of my church building...
If I think people would consider me a hypocrite for watching or reading such a thing...
...then, I'm avoiding it at all costs!
Sound good to you?