When it comes to the state of media entertainment in the world today, the news is both good and bad.
The good news is that a majority of people seem to prefer wholesome entertainment. A recent study by the Dove Foundation, a group that encourages the production of more family-friendly films, examined the costs and profits of 2,982 movies produced by major Hollywood studios between 1989 and 2003. It found that G-rated movies averaged a $79 million profit, while R-rated movies averaged only $6.9 million in profits.
Not only that, the average profits declined as the ratings became progressively more restrictive. PG movies averaged $28.3 million, while PG-13 movies averaged $23.5 million.
Another piece of good news emerged recently from the slime of an immoral television commercial for a well-known hamburger chain in the United States. Although the ad generated the type of publicity its producers had hoped, it failed miserably as a means of selling the product.
The bad news, unfortunately, is that some producers and writers seem relentlessly dedicated to continuing the onslaught of filth in the mainstream media despite the lack of profits. When Satan has control of hearts, free market principles are of little value.
No wonder modern prophets continually warn of the need for Latter-day Saints to turn their homes into sanctuaries from the evils that increasingly try to worm their way through walls and past locked doors.
Mormon referred to chastity and virtue as "most dear and precious above all things." (Moroni 9:9). Alma counseled his son that sexual sins are "most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost" (Alma 39:5).
It is little wonder, then, that Satan chooses to bombard the world with enticements in this regard. It is one of his oldest and most tiresome strategies — as well as one of the most effective.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has frequently warned people to be careful about the types of entertainment they watch or read. In a recent Ensign article, he said: "The flood of pornographic filth, the inordinate emphasis on sex and violence are not peculiar to North America. The situation is as bad in Europe and in many other areas. The whole dismal picture indicates a weakening rot seeping into the very fiber of society" (Ensign, September 2004).
Yet, just as the surveys and sales figures show, President Hinckley said, "On the other hand, I am satisfied that there are millions upon millions of good people in this and in other lands."
Those people increasingly have a need to fight back against the tide. President Hinckley has urged a personal purification, a strengthening of families, speaking out in public forums and enlisting the help of God.
As the Dove Foundation learned, despite the lack of profits, R-rated films made in the United States during the study period outnumbered G-rated films 12 to 1. Meanwhile, other groups such as the Parents Television Council, have documented how television shows are becoming increasingly filled with themes that glamorize or show immoral behavior as something that is normal and expected.
All of this is hard to explain away rationally, except that some popular producers and performers live personal lives that clearly are not G-rated.
But the effects of such entertainment are obvious. Families disintegrate, natural affections are ripped asunder, and the people who come to regard such things as entertaining are unable to feel the Spirit of the Lord.
Summer is a time when many people emphasize leisure pursuits. It is a good time to rededicate one's self to viewing only wholesome entertainment and to fortifying the home.