Saturday, January 19, 2019

Partake - A Year of PG or Less

My one word for 2018 (in place of New Year's resolutions) was Partake.  I expected my year to be focused on truly monitoring what I let into my soul - body and spirit.  Filtering out the bad, inviting more of the good.

I'd say I had moderate success.  I didn't do well with the physical.  I didn't do well cleaning up my diet and focusing on other healthy behaviors I've let slip (like sleep and water).

I didn't do well on time management.  I didn't cut down significantly on Netflix and such.

However, I did really well at filtering out the entertainment that doesn't fit my value system.  There are books, TV shows, movies, and music I partook of before that I wouldn't really want to admit to.  Not because the world considers them inappropriate, but because I do.  They were the literal definition of guilty pleasures.

The simplest way I found to bring my behaviors and beliefs into accord was to cut out all entertainment that would be rated higher than PG.

Not everything is rated.  Books aren't rated, but many of them would be beyond PG if they were.  Music isn't screened well at all.  Old movies are often not rated.

With music, I just cut out anything with swearing or sex.  With everything else, whenever I found myself wanting to partake of something that wasn't rated, I did a little homework.

With books, I asked the people who read them, if I could.  Right now I only read for book club, so I just asked someone who read ahead of me.  That worked well.  I only had to filter one or two of them out.

I used IMDb to judge movies and TV shows.  If a show didn't seem to have a rating, I scrolled down to a section called Certificate and clicked on See all certifications.  This showed me how it was rated in other countries.  I looked at the ratings from Australia and the United Kingdom, sometimes others.  If they were under 13, I called it approved.  I also read the Parents Guide.  These helped a lot.

The trouble came when IMDb and Netflix had conflicting ratings.  Like with Merlin.  On IMDb it's TV-PG; on Netflix it's TV-14.  I watched many episodes before I found out it was TV-14 on Netflix.  Then I pondered a long time.  It's a series I've watched a couple times.  As far as I could guess, the only thing that might push it to TV-14 is the witchcraft, that gets a little more intense in the later seasons.  But it still wasn't something that went beyond my sensitivities.  In the end, I stopped watching it.  Not because I don't think it's okay for me, but because it was my goal to not watch beyond PG for the year, and I wanted to stay as true to that as I could.

There were a lot of shows that are TV-14 that I think are okay, but I didn't watch.  There were also some that were PG that I wasn't okay with, like Charmed (lots of casual sex).  Luckily, I had many options I love - like all the Star Treks (except Discovery, which . . . let's just not go there) and Doctor Who.  Most SciFi TV before 2000 is fine.  I also watched some shows from years ago that I didn't watch when they first aired, like Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  And I explored a lot of teen and kids shows and found some gems, like Wolfblood and Gravity Falls.

It was a little tough at the beginning of the year.  I wasn't watching R-rated or TV-MA before anyway, so it wasn't a huge jump.  But once in a while I'd want to watch something I thought was okay and find it wasn't.  And it was tough when the new Fantastic Beasts came out and was rated PG-13.  And it was especially tough during Octoboween, when I usually watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, both beyond my limit.

But, overall, it was a great year.  I was happier.  My soul was lighter.  I felt more clean.  And less self-reproaching.  I'm really glad I did it and that I stuck to it.

I've been debating how I want things to change or stay the same now that the year is over.  I've decided I'll mostly maintain my current status.  I'll mostly stay away from PG-13 and TV-14, unless it's something I know is clean.  I have a much better knowledge of what I'm sensitive to now and feel I can be honest with myself and take care of myself by filtering accordingly.

I watched my first TV-14 show yesterday - The West Wing.  There was a bit more swearing than I remember, but I think it was just the episodes I chose.  I'm going to give it a few more tries before I write it off again.  And I WILL be seeing Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald before too long.

Beyond that, I just don't know yet.  I've learned a lot.  I'll play it by ear - or by heart, I guess.