If I really want to find out whether I want to go see a movie, I check that useful and witty aggregator rottentomatoes.com. But now I'm thinking of adding MovieGuide.org to the list. Here's why.
Today's Sydney Morning Herald has a story about a man who's put some hard work into demonstrating that movies promoting sex, violence and atheistic world views are not as profitable as movies that don't.
Among other things the story reports on how Ted Baehr, the man responsible for the site, has actually made a difference to the movies we watch, and has done so from a theologically conservative Christian position.
The movies are rated on the sorts of things you'd expect in a secular movie review; features such as production values, plot, characterization and the other sorts of things you'd normally see in a film write-up. Then, there is an 'acceptability rating', about which the site says:
We gear the ratings to parents with children but also provide information for discerning adult viewers. For example, an Acceptability Rating of Plus One means caution for younger children ages 2-7, an Acceptability Rating of Minus One means caution for older children ages 8-12, and an Acceptability Rating of Minus Two means extreme caution for teenagers and/or adults. These Acceptability ratings are arranged not only according to age levels, but also according to a traditional Christian view of art, going from the sublime and the divine, Plus Four, to the abhorrent and demonic, Minus Four.
So, for example, The Golden Compass gets 3 stars in the general review, but is given an 'acceptability rating' of '-4, abhorrent'. Similarly, the review for Alien vs Predator: Requiem gives a general rating of 2 stars, an Acceptability rating of -3 (excessive) and in summary blasts it to kingdom come with the one-line dismissal "A Waste of Theater Space".
I suppose there are people in the US doing this sort of Christian movie rating all the time. The noteworthy thing about MovieGuide.org is just how far he's managed to get with the process. It's an encouragement to any of us (not just Christians) who dislike exploitative and sexually explicit trends in advertising or TV and movie programming, and decide to make the effort to complain.