Friday, June 20, 2008

A Comedy of Errors

Having a blog is interesting. But even more than that is having a tracker/counter to check daily who's reading my blog, how they found it, which blog posts prove more popular (currently in the lead is my post on the International Women that I admire--feminists watch out!), and most of all, where these blogreaders live. Only a few times did I see ones that only mention a country and not a city. But on Wednesday, I was shocked when I saw a hit from an unknown computer with no details given as to where in the world they were accessing my blog from. Even more alarming, they looked at only one post...the one on Blackwater...and spent an hour and sixteen minutes! Could it be secret government agents or Blackwater execs?

Anyhow, that was the thought in my head when my cell phone rang while at work. I looked at it and saw a 202 area code. Had it been anywhere else, I would've let it go to voicemail, but it was Washington, D.C. calling! My first thought was that some government official was going to offer me a job or tell me about a career opportunity. I was excited, so I answered it, expecting great news.

What I got was a rambling telemarketer who spoke with a sense of urgency and told me that because Hollywood is producing a lot of "filth" and making even PG-13 movies more offensive, he wanted to let me know about a new opportunity with Deseret Books, where I can join the DVD club and get a wholesome, family (and Mormon) film that won't offend anyone!

Excuse me?!? I told him that I was a single guy and hadn't paid any attention to the rating system since I turned 17. Why should I? As a teenager, I was always disappointed when a film was Rated R because it meant that I couldn't see it and my parents wouldn't allow me to see it. Once I turned 17, I could see them without supervision or permission, so it's become the thing I pay attention to the least when I'm wanting to see a movie. The rating system is a guideline for parents, but this sanctimonious Mormon telemarketer made it sound like it was a moral guide direct from God.

Anyhow, it became obvious that he was following a script because everything I said in response to his questions was flatly ignored. He kept trying to sell me on to this. When I asked for examples of movies that they send, he mentioned a few Mormon movies that I already own as well as some really bad Mormon movies I'd never want to own.

No matter what I said, this guy wouldn't let go. He kept coming up with new angles to sell his movie club plan, and my co-worker (the one I have had ongoing personality problems with) was filing paperwork behind me and was eavesdropping (of course). She kept saying, "just hang up!" I was laughing at the whole ordeal...with my being suckered into answering my cell phone just because it had a Washington, D.C. area code, and my personal feeling that hanging up someone is extremely rude. But my co-worker kept shouting, "just hang up on the telemarketer because you have work to do!"

I eventually interrupted the spiel to announce that I had to get back to work, but the telemarketer just kept going without missing a beat. So, I finally had enough and said, "Listen, I really do have to get back to work now and I'm not interested."


After I hung up, my co-worker had some words (and even told my supervisor about it). She's often rude to people on the phone, so I pay her no mind. All I told her was, "Hanging up on people is just plain rude and I won't do it." She said, "but it's a telemarketer!" And I said, "Telemarketers are people, too."

Anyhow, what this incident really brings up with me is what I hated most at BYU. I heard too many sanctimonious Mormons claim a sort of "moral superiority" because they'd never watch an R-rated movie. I had debates with quite a few people over the rating system. They see it as a "Ten Commandments" kind of thing, I see it as a guideline that doesn't affect our salvation. There are plenty of great R-rated films that are not appropriate for children to watch until they reach a level of maturity (such as "Schindler's List" and "Casualties of War"). But to put a moral judgment on a film just because it's rated R?

Once, at BYU, I was at a party where one guy announced to the group with an excited tone that he had an edited version of a movie (I forget the movie, but it was something tame like "Forrest Gump") and everyone "ooohed" and "ahhhed" like it was a hard to find and coveted item. I remember thinking at the time, "what universe am I on?" It was an odd experience for me. That's not the only oddity I saw or heard while at BYU. One co-worker of mine had told me that she was offended by the film "Annie" because Carol Burnett was a drunken and sleezy character! You know someone is a bit too innocent for our world if a film like "Annie" is offensive!!!

It's no surprise that the Mormons I got along with the best were ones who had no hang-ups about R-rated films. I mean, let's get real. I see movies as a way to experience something or to learn something. Sure, I prefer films that inspire ("Forrest Gump", "Field of Dreams", "Dead Poets Society"), but I also like films that raises awareness, shows complex situations, or asks provocative questions ("Blood Diamond", "Syriana", "Munich"). Besides, I also like seeing historical events on screen, to better understand human nature. What's wrong with that?

At the time I had some of these debates with Mormons who refused to see R rated films, the film "Saving Private Ryan" was in theaters. My Great Uncle Jim fought as a paratrooper during the D-Day invasion. He rarely talked about it in details. He only focused on some of the humourous aspects (like one buddy who landed in a pasture and spooked a cow). By seeing this R-rated film, I felt like I partially experienced what he did a half century ago, though I experienced it from the safety of an air-conditioned theater. The violence was too intense for me that I almost passed out, but I endured. That film had a profound effect on me.

I've seen plenty of PG and G-rated fair that don't do much for me. A lot of them are crappy films. I need to be engaged mentally, and it's no shock but the best movies tend to be rated R. There's a difference between going to see an R-rated film like the "Saw" movies (I see no point in their making it) and a film like "Saving Private Ryan" or "Casualties of War" or "Schindler's List." So, I wish people would just stop thinking of our rating system as a moral guide that we must abide by if we hope for salvation. It's useful for parents determining if their children should watch the film, but for adults making choices about what they want to see, the rating system is irrelevant.

Warning to future telemarketers who don't know when a person is not interested:

I will sic our president on you!!!


Margie's Musings said...

I'm afraid if I told a telemarketer that I was at work and could not talk and they did not let me go, I would hang up.

Mandalynn said...

I'm sorry about your telemarketer experience, but I thought it was funny. I can't believe they called your cell phone. Since switching from a land line to a cell phone, I haven't received any calls from telemarketers.

I actually wanted to comment on rated R movies. A couple of years ago I decided to stop seeing movies that looked leazy. I agree, there are a lot of R rated movies that are excellent and worthwhile - Schindler's List, Blood Diamond, etc. - but since making that decision, I've only seen two rated R movies. I've also cut out a lot of PG-13 movies because, plain and simple, they are just trash. Anyway, its made a huge difference. I didn't think it would, but I am more optimistic and happy. It's weird, but I'm attributing it to stop watching trashy movies, and most of those are rated R.

Sansego said...

This was the first telemarketer call I've gotten on my cell phone. It's because Deseret Books has my phone number.

I'm surprised, Mandy, about your cutting out films based on ratings. You...the one who loved the "Scream" movies?!?

While I did like the "Scream" movies at the time, I'm at the point where I limit the movies I see to interesting subject matter/topics/plot. I usually know going in if I'll like a movie or not, and the last time I hated myself for going along with the group was in March when the MAYA group went to see "Be Kind Rewind", which was one of the worst movies I had ever had the misfortune to see. I wouldn't have gone to see it by myself, but the others liked it. I learned my lesson with that one. I hate Jack Black movies and I'm no fan of Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, or Will Farrell. I know to avoid those movies if I care about my time and money.

I agree that the movies you watch and even the music you listen to affects your overall psychological state. I can't watch horror films anymore. They always left me with an icky feeling, because the ending was always the same: killing the bad guy is supposed to be justice served, but it never felt that way.

I wish there were more inspiring films (without the sentimental sap that a lot of them fall prey to) to see. Mormon comedies are not exactly what I have in mind when I think of alternatives to the deluge of crappy films out there. But to ask me to cut out completely a movie because of it's Rating is ludicrous. It's not the rating that's the problem, it's the content that matters to me. So, "Schindler's List" and the Matrix Trilogy" -- yes; "The Strangers" and the "Saw Trilogy" -- hell no!

Margie's Musings said...

I only enjoy humorous or upbeat movies. I can get depressed enough with real life without paying good money to get either scared or depressed. I like to be entertained and to me going to horror movies is not entertaining.

But even at that, I did enjoy Shindler's List.

I guess I am just too picky about my movies. I don't want to see blood and gore and I don't want to get depressed. I am ordinarily a happy person and I like my life that way.

Sansego said...

I didn't like "Children of Men" because it was a downer of a film; but I loved "Schindler's List", even though it was about a horrible event. It all depends, for me. I like films that make me think about things and leave an impression that lasts.

Mandalynn said...

"Children of Men" was one of the two rated R movies I've seen recently. I agree, it was not worth it. As you know (because you read my blog), "The Happening" was the other one. It was an okay film. I can understand why it was rated R, but wouldn't consider anything in it offensive.