Can Catholics Watch R Rated Movies?

Writer and producer Barbara Nicolosi discusses whether or not Catholics can watch R-rated movies. She admits that, ironically, many of today’s movies and shows excel in showing how lost humanity is without God. When asked if she is shocked by all the dark stuff in the media, she says she’s more shocked when she sees something truly holy and beautiful, because that’s so out-of-the-ordinary today.

Postmodern man has turned away from God. He is on his own searching for truth, and much of today’s media depicts—whether intentionally or not—the depths of depravity and sin that result from not having a relationship with God. Due to the absence of this relationship, secular filmmakers don’t feel the need to do good. So it’s the duty of the audience to determine if watching something is going to be good or bad for their soul. 

It is important, as consumers, to read the signs of the times. Hollywood seems to be on a binge of dystopian themes. Today’s young adults are attracted to stories about the end of everything, including the end of anything right or trustworthy. Barbara advises Catholics to pay close attention to young peoples’ interest in this theme. The younger generation doesn’t think anyone is in charge, and doesn’t think anyone can help the situation society is in. Understanding that can put the Church in a prime position to give young people the stories they really need.  

Striking the balance between engaging the culture and offering the authentic gospel has been and always will be a challenge for storytellers. Parents are faced with a similar obligation to preserve their childrens’ innocence, while also understanding their attraction to the popular stories in today’s culture. Barbara suggests, if you’re a parent of a teenager or young adult, watch your childrens’ favorite shows, preferably with them, and then talk to them about the stories, highlighting the redeeming qualities if possible. Simply barring our children from these stories squanders a great opportunity to teach them the deeper truth, goodness, and beauty that the Faith offers. 

Meet Barbara Nicolosi

Barbara Nicolosi is the Founder and Chair Emeritus of Act One, Inc. – a nonprofit program to train and mentor Christians for careers as Hollywood writers and executives – as well as an Associate Professor at Azusa Pacific University and a member of the Writers Guild of America-West.

She has written screenplays for production companies in and beyond Hollywood and her most recent book, Notes to Screenwriters, was published in January 2015.