Originally, I had a rather loose view of movie-watching. I saw one or two R-rated movies, and several PG-13. When I was about 15, I discovered that I was somewhere I did not want to be, spiritually, and decided that I wanted to change my life. After prayer, fasting and pondering, I felt impressed to offer a symbol to the Lord of my desire to change: I would not watch any movies rated PG-13 and above.
In the years after that personal covenant, I forgot why I had made it, though I did not forget my resolve. Most of my friends ridiculed me for that decision at first, but eventually came to uphold it, generously changing their plans to accommodate my oddity. There were a couple of times I was told a movie was PG, only to find it rated PG-13 after beginning to watch it. At one point, I remember going home from a night out because I knew Monty Python and the Holy Grail was most certainly not a PG movie once it got to the Castle of Anthrax, despite what I had been told.
At any rate, despite feeling stupid on multiple occasions, I managed to live by my decision. It wasn't until a few years later while I was serving a mission that someone asked me why I did not watch PG-13 movies. It set me back for a few minutes, because I did not remember. Then it came to me, the moment I had covenanted with the Lord that if I did this, He would help me change my life.
The feeling was incredible as I reviewed my life and the direction it had taken since I chose to make that small offering to the Lord. Although I had not remembered the covenant, the Lord had upheld it so richly. I knew I had been blessed beyond measure for this comparatively tiny effort.
In addition to no longer watching PG-13 or above movies, I no longer had the desire to watch television or listen to the radio much. Movies themselves were not even that important to me. I still enjoy a movie now or then, or the chance to relax in front of the television, but the media in general were not nearly the hub of my schedule the way they had once been.
All that being said, I think that the choice to watch or not to watch is entirely between an individual and the Lord. For me, the things I was watching were taking me away from Him one chip at a time. Another person may not be so affected. I have no desire to preach my way as the right decision to make for everyone. In fact, I find it interesting that the new Strength of Youth pamphlet makes no specific recommendation for ratings-watching. It summarizes by giving the One True Standard of Discernment:
[I]f you have any question about whether a particular movie, book, or other form of entertainment is appropriate, don't see it, don't read it, don't participate.This is the key, in my mind. As I have lived this principle, I find myself better able to discern what media brings me down, and what is uplifting and/or productively instructive. I have even found myself walking out of PG movies, at times. The Lord has blessed me beyond all expectation for using this standard in conjunction with my own personal covenant, and that is all I can say.
Now, I find so many wonderful things to do, even average-to-good television and movies often seem a waste of time. Even my reading has been tempered by my gradually growing dislike of time-wasting through various media (and I'm a confirmed bibliophile.) There is a time, place and purpose for entertainment, but it is a relatively small one when seen within the framework of all the productive, creative, beautiful things there are to do. How much more wonderful is it to stand over a weeded garden, share my testimony in blogging, admire a completed quilt block, or listen to my daughter flawlessly recite her colors when compared to switching off the television before going to bed?
There really is no comparison.