Q&A: Questions and Answers

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“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, Feb. 1998, 17

Questions and Answers

Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

Videos are a problem for my friends and me. We often seem to be renting videos we have to turn off and take back. Is there some way we can make good decisions about which movies to watch?

New Era

No matter when or where we live, mankind has always enjoyed being entertained. The form of entertainment has certainly changed over the years, from storytelling and simple plays to elaborate stage productions and movies with lots of special effects.

Entertainment can also be instructive in illustrating to us the effects of certain choices or actions. It can create good feelings about family relationships and uplifting attitudes about overcoming hardship. It can retell history so that we can learn from the past. Entertainment can also appeal to the worst in us. It can show people in violent and unrealistic situations. It can portray evil as good and good as evil (see 2 Ne. 15:20). And the emotions that this type of entertainment can bring out in us can be damaging to our spirits.

Just as we have to be careful what books to read, art to look at, or music to listen to, we must use that same careful judgment when it comes to movies or videos. There are some excellent movies that can make us think, make us laugh, and make us feel good and positive about the world. These are the types of movies we need to seek out.

But how do you find those movies? If you catch yourself wandering the aisles of a video store with no idea what movie to select, here are a few ideas to guide you in your choices:

Check the ratings. We all know that the ratings are not safe guidelines, but they are a place to start. You can have some assurance that the movie avoids bad language and violent or sexual content if it is rated G or PG. Other countries use codes that differ from the United States, so movies that are unrated may be okay or may be horrible.

Read reviews. When you are reading reviews in the newspaper, keep a list of movies that sound like something with worthwhile content. Then take this list to the video store with you.

Read the back of the box. Check out the synopsis on the back of the video package. It doesn’t always tell you enough, but you can be warned if the movie is described using words like “provocative,” “disturbing,” or “gritty.”

Ask for recommendations. You can ask for a recommendation from the clerk at the store, but this may or may not be helpful. A better source of recommendations is from someone you know well and trust.

Check books. There are several books written that suggest videos for family viewing. Check out these books from the library and make your own family list.

Check out the classics. Don’t dismiss a movie just because it is 10, 20, or 30 years old or is in black and white. Some of the best movies made, the ones that are considered classics, have been around so long for a reason. They’re good!

Try your best to make wise choices, but when the movie you select is not up to your standards, don’t hesitate to turn it off. Just make up your mind that even though it may have cost you money, you’d rather turn off a movie than watch something you shouldn’t.

Inspiring and encouraging movies have been made. Search these out. The more you learn how to make careful choices, the easier it will be to avoid being unpleasantly surprised by a video you’ve rented.


As an employee at a local video store, I can see your trouble in finding good movies. You can go by the rating system on the box, or even ask the employees their opinion of the movie. I’m always eager to help. My number one spot to look for good movies is in the family section.

Sarah Richardson, 17
Mechanicsville, Virginia

You should remember what the 13th article of faith [A of F 1:13] has to say. It says to seek after things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy. Your video suggestions should come from friends with high standards.

Pedro G. Acevedo, 12
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Try renting videos of older movies when the standards were often higher. Many times, with a little common sense, you can judge the movies before you rent.

Jennifer Lines, 14
Mesa, Arizona

Ask somebody’s opinion. Make sure it is somebody you can trust to give you a straight answer. Pick movies of your own interests. Don’t feel that you have to pick bad movies to watch just because your friends think they are cool.

Laura Hasted, 12
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

It’s getting harder to tell what a movie is going to be like by the cover picture or the rating. You need to be prepared to turn it off.

Steven Law, 15
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

I suggest that you and your friends try some other activities like skating or bowling or window shopping. You could also just talk or have lunch together. You can still watch movies, but use good judgment when doing so.

Rachelle Stewart, 17
Kirtland, New Mexico

I believe you need to talk over with your friends what specific types of movies you want to talk over with your friends what specific types of movies you want to watch. You have to remember that you’re being tested on what you do on earth.

Joshua Udy, 12
West Jordan, Utah

Photography by Welden Andersen. Posed by model.

“We counsel you … not to pollute your minds with … degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading” (President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1986, 45).