A word on not being offended

I was going to blog about the Oscars, but seeing as it would pretty much have been a repeat of what I said about the BAFTAs, I suggest that you just go look there instead. 

Instead I thought I’d just take the opportunity for a general post about what I am, and am not, trying to do when I post about a film on this site; especially on the issue of taking offence at the content of movies.

I am a Christian, and inevitably being a Christian informs my everything I do – and that includes writing about film. However when I post about a film here I’m not aiming to provide ‘the Christian perspective’ on a film. I don’t think there is one Christian perspective on something as complex and personal as a film. Instead I’m reflecting on it personally – giving a personal reaction and evaluation of the film. This requires a bit of space, words-wise, so I don’t tend to post short posts on films. I try to give, where I can, a brief guide to the genre and plot of the film; a bit about the context of the film; and my personal response to it. Where that causes me to reflect on it from a faith-based perspective I will do so, but that won’t always happen. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won’t. What I won’t do is tell you if you, as a Christian (if you are a Christian  – I know by no means all my readers are Christians) should watch a given film. That is for you to decide. There’s enough information easily accessible about films for you to decide if you – or children for whom you are responsible – are likely to be offended by certain film content. We all draw the lines in different places, so I won’t tell you what to do. That’s for you to work out for yourself before God, in relationship with the people with whom you walk through life. I would make two suggestions.

1) Pay attention to the guidelines of the country you are in. The film ratings are there for a reason – find out about them, and don’t break the law. 2) Wherever you are, the British Board Of Film Classification (BBFC) is worth consulting. They have done great work in recent years by consulting with the public  – especially carers of children – about what they think is acceptable for different age groups and people. They rate films accordingly and publish brief summaries of their finding on the film posters, in cinemas and online. Their website and mobile apps contain more detailed summaries of what potentially offensive material a film may contain, and the reason for the age rating they’ve given it. They fully deserve all the praise they’ve been given for the public service they offer. For any film you want more information about in this area, I strongly recommend consulting their website and downloading their apps. Start with the website by clicking here. 

I also don’t like to give marks out of 10 or 5 to a film; I think that’s a reductive approach. What differentiates 6/10 from 7/10? Usually it’s as much about mood as anything else. I prefer to give a personal response, which as I’ve outlined in this post is what I try to do. I know, though, that some people like these ratings, so at the bottom of film reviews I mention the rating /10 I’ve given the film on IMDB (a good source of general film information) and /5 on Rotten Tomatoes (where I also post my reviews). The reason I choose to rate on these sites is that they both ‘aggregate’ the ratings users give films, giving a more nuanced sense of what people are thinking, ironing out unhelpfully extreme responses and giving a sense of critical consensus. Those two websites are good general resources for film fans.

So there you have it. That’s what I’m about with films. I try to review every film I see in the cinema, and any other film that sparks my interest. For yourself – you know your tastes and tolerance. Work the levels out for yourself. But also take a few risks and see films that challenge you. Sometimes you will be bored or offended. But it may just change your life.

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One thought on “A word on not being offended

  1. Excellent. I want to know what you think, but I certainly don’t want you, or anyone else for that matter, telling me what you think I should think (which is my translation of what many mean when they ask you to write “from a Christian perspective”). Keep ’em coming, Dave.

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