Finding recovery from sex and pornography addiction and then staying in recovery requires vigilance. Latter-day Saints who are effectively dealing their addiction pay careful attention to where they take their eyeballs. After all, lust is one of those drugs that requires little more than light reflecting off the retinas and a mind primed to drift off into fantasy land. PluggedIn, a move/music/television review site produced by Focus on the Family (FotF), a Christian ministry brought to prominence by James Dobson with a service mark of “Helping Families Thrive,” can assist Mormon sex and porn addicts in avoiding the “triggers” so often found in what Hollywood seeks to feed society.
It disappoints me that FotF has historically adhered to a couple of troubling tenets on its flagship site: (1) avoid at all costs any acknowledgment of the existence of Mormons; and (2) never, ever, under any circumstance whatsoever, say anything positive about Mormons. This has made for some oddly vacuous dialog about the previous and ongoing presidential election as well as Prop 8 in California and the “gay marriage” debate generally.
Nevertheless, FotF’s spin-off website PluggedIn is a fabulous source for the information we should all be taking in before we take in a movie. Each nationally-released movie is given a general story-line review followed by a fairly clinical review of the moral content of the film. The review is divided into sections: Positive Elements, Spiritual Content, Sexual Content, Violent Content, Crude or Profane Language, Drug and Alcohol Content, and Other Negative Elements.
What I like most is that each section briefly and simply lays out a usually non-triggering description of what you’re going to see in the movie without forcing the reader to sift through a lot of moral pontification. The section that I pay the most attention to, of course, is Sexual Content. If it has pretty much anything to report in the way of sexual content, I’ll quickly cross that movie off my list and won’t go see it. My sobriety is worth way more than a couple hours of trigger-filled “entertainment.”
The result of course is that almost anything by Disney or Pixar has a green light. Exceptions arise, however, as in the case of the third installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean.” It quickly became clear from the PluggedIn review that the mermaids were charged with providing titillation to moviegoers and undertook their task with vigor. Our family passed on it.
In the recent review of “The Bourne Supremacy,” the Sexual Content section contained only one sentence: “When Marta hears that a co-worker had been fixated with her—taking pictures of her and collecting articles of her clothing—she says, ‘I always thought he was gay.’” In contrast, another recent movie review for “The Campaign” contains five paragraphs of prose describing the sexual content a viewer will find in this film. Even if you failed to realize that Will Ferrell was involved in this R-rated comedy, PluggedIn would immediately make it apparent that “The Campaign” is not a good bet for addicts working on their recovery.
The major downside I see is that the website reviews pretty much all nationally-released films from G-rated through R-rated. (They apparently concede (correctly) that an NC-17 rating renders a movie automatically inappropriate for all who consider themselves disciples of Christ.) What this means is that it can sometimes be tempting to “check out” the PluggedIn reviews of all those R-rated and PG-13-rated movies you already know you won’t go see, just so you can be aware of what you’re “missing.” Successful addicts in recovery are very aware that their addiction has been and remains “cunning, baffling and powerful.”