Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Crude Sexual Remark

I usually get a kick out of the explanations for some of the MPAA ratings for films. There are the incredibly specific ("pervasive strong bloody violence"), oddly classified ("sci-fi destruction," as if the fact that it's sci-fi as opposed to any other destruction changes things), or extremely ambiguous (the catch-all "thematic elements" comes to mind). It just shows the faultiness of the system, and the subjective nature of the rulings. However, when I popped in my rented copy of "Off the Black" today, I found what I believe to be the most absurd rating of all time. I was greeted with the following image:

Now, whether or not the film actually deserves the R rating, the MPAA makes a bold move here in singling out one specific instance of crude sexuality ... not even a whole scene or anything building up to that scene, but rather, a single remark is the sole reason for the R rating. This implies that everything else in the film is hunkydory. It provides little assistance to the potential parent trying to decide if this film is alright for his/her child to view. "Thematic elements" would even have been better here. I can actually see how this film could receive an R rating -- I'm not opposed to that. It's the implication that the R rating comes from a single phrase spoken as an aside that really had little to do with the plot of the film.

I don't get too upset when I see these explanations, because it's mainly just funny. However, if I were one to determine my movie watching based on the rating of the film, this sort of explanation would not satisfy my requirements. If I were going to miss out on a film, it would have to be for a better reason than "a crude sexual remark."
How the MPAA ratings still hold any sway over people's viewing habits, I just don't understand.

Friday, October 12, 2007


An article in the New York Times today, entitled "Legal or Not, Abortion Rates Compare," reported the interesting findings of a survey of various nations of the world with regard to abortion rates and legality of the procedure in those nations. Briefly summarized, it found that abortion rates were higher in those areas where the procedure is illegal. Furthermore, the chance of death from such procedures was much higher in those same areas. This has compelled me to list some of my thoughts on the issue of abortion, which deviate markedly from those of other members of my religion.

I think that women should have full rights over their bodies. When a woman becomes pregnant, she becomes the caretaker for the human embryo housed within her womb. Of course, not all caretakers are as good as others, and some cause considerable, at times unrepairable, damage to the fetus through the imbibing of alcohol and use of other harmful substances. In many states, there are
laws against such actions in order to protect the future life of the fetus. Therefore, I think a woman should have the option of cancelling her enrollment in such a course that would require her to give up her rights to certain legal activities. While it is true that abstinence would be the ultimate preventative measure, women can not always maintain that high standard. Should a minor slip-up result in a minimum nine month sentence of pain and misery for a woman who has no wish to be a mother? Should a child be born into a world where he is neither wanted nor cared for properly?

Many equate abortion with murder, saying that death of a human life is the same, regardless of when it takes place. However, it is necessary to examine the differences between life in the womb and life after birth. In the womb, the fetus is dependent on the mother's life-force to stay alive. It is a part of the woman's body, attached and connected, unable to move about freely. It is not an autonomous being at this point, because if it were removed from the woman's body, it would die. Even if science reaches the point where an embryo can be cultivated and nurtured outside of the natural womb, I don't think these would be seen as equal alternatives to a normal pregnancy. If a woman sees another being utilizing her resources as an unwanted partnership, then she should be able to terminate the relationship. The child is not truly born until he is removed from the womb, and until then, he should not have the equal rights of a child. If a child is considered the same life both inside and outside of the womb, then why do we celebrate a child's birthday on the day of their delivery? Shouldn't this be traced to the point of conception, if life has officially begun at that moment?

Of course, there are limits to my overall permission for abortion. I think that a woman should have to make her decision early in the pregnancy. Once she has begun, then she must accept her choice and see it through to the end (except, of course, in cases of medical emergency where her life is in danger, or other extenuating circumstances that I may not be aware of). In other words, I don't think a woman should be able to end the life of a fetus the day prior to her delivery date just because she wants to; at that point there'd need to be a better reason. I think all abortions should be done only after discussion with a competent physician, and only after proper counseling has been completed.

I realize that this puts me in the minority in my religion. I personally feel that this is a matter of free agency; limiting a woman's right to choose in this aspect is not at all in keeping with our Church's doctrine. While I would never want to miss out on the opportunity to raise a child that God has granted to be conceived, it is not up to me to force that upon anyone. Prohibiting abortion causes many more problems than it fixes, and I feel that it is the wrong course to take in making society a better place.

I'd love to hear comments telling me I'm wrong ... I'm always open to altering my perception of important issues. This issue in particular just gets me upset, because it seems like everyone in Utah sees it as a cut-and-dry topic: abortion=murder=bad, and I disagree.