Do filmmakers have a moral responsibility?

In my opinion, no. This is because i believe a rational person can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. I myself have seen many R rated movies before reaching the age of 18 due to having 2 older brothers(I don’t remember my childhood very well, but according to my dad there were a few movies i refused to watch), and i have never gotten into a fight, and i also realize that movie characters don’t have to worry about STD’s and unintended pregnancy unlike in real life.. I think most people realize that just because something looks cool/fun in a movie doesn’t mean it should be done in real life, and if you can’t…well then you shouldn’t be watching movies.

I also think putting a moral responsibility on filmmakers puts unfair restrictions on what subjects they can and can’t cover in there work. For example, a while ago i watched a movie called Ma Mere. The incestuous themes in the movie turned me off, but i wouldn’t try to say filmmakers can’t make movies about that theme if they want to. I just will just avoid them.

I also think decided what movies are and aren’t morally responsible is too subjective. For example on the imdb board for a movie called “The Last Mistress.” One poster made a topic saying that the movie glorified unhealthy relationships, and someone responded by saying that the movie was simply showing those types of relationships exist. And of course every filmmaker has there own moral view, which may be different from certain viewers. To whose morals should a filmmaker hold themselves too exactly?

I think viewers can, or at least should be able to judge what is appropriate for them, and more importantly know what they can and can’t apply from a movie into there actual lives. There are some movies that try to impart real world morals, some that explore a darker side of humanity, and others that are just meant as entertainment and not much else.

If anyone has a responsibility i think it should be on the viewer. Its not like viewers can’t check to see how violent/sexual content of a movie before watching it. Viewers should be able to choose what is appropriate for them, and if they can’t then thats there own fault, not the filmmakers.

le0pard13’s entry
Annas entry
Univarns Entry
FRC’s entry
Max’s entry
ScarletSp1ders entry
NikHats entry
rtm’s post
Chris’s entry
iluvcinema’s entry
Darrens entry
Andrews entry
Paragraph Film Reviews entry
Stu’s entry
Phils entry

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42 Responses to Do filmmakers have a moral responsibility?

  1. Ronan says:

    The filmmakers does have a responsibility, of course he does, but whether he wants to exercise it is up to his own discretion. That’s the beauty of free will, we can do whatever we like but when we freely choose to produce something which promotes our truest good: positive themes and dignified content, then we free will takes on a truly human aspect.

    • Humanity has both good and bad, and i think filmmakers should be able to explore both sides of humanity.

      • Ronan says:

        They do explore both sides, quite freely. But do they really do it responsibly? Who else do they have a responsiblity to if not the viewer?

        • To there own vision?

          As someone who wants to be a filmmaker, i do want my movies to be entertaining, but i also want to make my movies the way i want. I don’t think filmmakers should be limited in what they can cover in there work. They should be able to explore whatever topic interests them, and the viewer holds the ultimate power to accept or reject there work.

  2. Pingback: Filmplicity » Blog Archive » “MORALITY BITES”: HOLLYWOOD… A HEALTH RISK?

  3. 5plitreel says:

    I do indeed agree with the fact that people should themselves take more responsibility and not push blame onto filmmakers, production companies etc. But it’s a really complicated issue! Thanks for this blogathon idea, really cool : –)

    P.S. No to be a pain in the ass it’s actually either 5plitreel, split reel or anna haha.

    • Thanks for agreeing with me. It is a complicated issue, and looking back on the entry i think i may have simplified too much, but i just wanted to put my honest opinion on the subject

      And i fixed the title now.

  4. rtm says:

    First I just want to say, great blog-a-thon idea, Ronan and Julian! Sorry I’m a bit late on this, guys, but I’ll participate for sure.

    I respect your point of view, Julian and boy, don’t I hope more people are rational like you and can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. You said “I think viewers can, or at least should be able to judge what is appropriate for them, and more importantly know what they can and can’t apply from a movie into there actual lives.” As much as I want to believe that is true, the reality is there are a lot of people who do become a victim of what they watch (and/or play, as in the case for video games), especially young people who may not have the best moral judgments. Anyway, I don’t want to go on and on as I probably should put my thoughts into my own blog post instead 😀

    • I will be sure to read your post on this when its ready 🙂

    • Irina says:

      Well I can totally see where you are coming from. Everyone should be responsible for their own choices, it’s true.
      But why not give people at least quality choices?
      I very much agree with Max from Anomalous Materials who said, I believe, that films should be there to help you understand yourself and things around you better, and ultimately to help you become a better person.
      I really don’t understand how can one make films like The Human Centipede and put them on general release? And when criticised for being inhuman, sickening and wicked, argue that there should always be “freedom of expression” and “artistic licence” and that the film is a testimony of that.
      Spoiler alert:
      According to Tom Six, the film’s director, ‘the concept of the film arose from a joke he made with friends about punishing child molesters by stitching their mouths to the anus of a “fat truck driver”. Six also stated that inspiration for the film came from Nazi medical experiments carried out during World War II, such as the actions of Josef Mengele at Auschwitz concentration camp.’
      How terrible, wrong and sad is that? People were tortured and exterminated in the camps, but yet, it inspired Six to make this terrible movie.
      Can anyone tell me at least one positive thing/message/idea this film presents? Anything? Or maybe some will argue that it is Entertaining?? Well, in this case it’s a very wrong, unhealthy, sickening way to entertain people.
      You say that ’If anyone has a responsibility I think it should be on the viewer’. It’s true and it isn’t. Some people will still choose to make The HC II and some people will unfortunately choose to watch it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Centipede_II_%28Full_Sequence%29
      Read the plot please. Terrifying…
      Just to better illustrate what I am trying to say, I will use the following example: In case of drugs use: Of course we can leave it up to individuals to choose whether to use them or not ‘free will and all that stuff’, but we don’t. Somehow we do understand that they are harmful and most importantly degrading for people, so there are laws and in general common perception that make drugs unacceptable. So why can’t the same go for films?

      • Irina says:

        Omg! it’s a very long comment.. sorry 🙂

        • The length is fine. And i actually saw The Human Centipede a while ago, and while i am generally hard to shock and i did know what it was about before seeing it i still found the visual of the “human centipede” horrifying. I would never wish anyone in real life to go through a experience like that, and i think most people who saw it are already used to that kind of stuff. And i didn’t hear of any reports of people trying to duplicate it in real life, so i think that shows the people who saw it knew it wasn’t something to be done in real life

          Also, it didn’t really enter the mainstream, so i thin that shows the mass audience still has some limits on what they will and will not watch. I personally thinking banning any work of art just makes it more attractive to people. The Human Centipede never gaining a mass audience i think shows that most viewers simply won’t watch extreme
          stuff like The Human Centipede.

          However, the filmmaker being inspired by real life tortue does make the movie seem
          creepier.

          • Irina says:

            The point of using this film as an example wasn’t to argue that people might try to duplicate it in real life… The point is that it’s made purely for wicked messed up entertainment purposes..

            • Sorry about the misunderstanding there. I do think whatever his intentions, he does have a right to do it, just as everybody has a right write a book, paint a picture, etc. Just as its the viewers right not to see it, and considering it never rose above cult classic, the mass audience exercised that right.

          • Janelle says:

            Sugiipsrnrly well-written and informative for a free online article.

  5. There are some movies that don’t advertise everything that is in their movies when they release though. As an example. I remember when Derailed starring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston released. Nothing that I personally read/saw mentioned anything about the surprise rape that is in the movie. I even took a date to the movie who also was interested in seeing this film about “When two married business executives having an affair are blackmailed by a violent criminal, the two must turn the tables on him to save their families.” -imdb. Imagine hers and mine shock, and my level of discomfort having to sit through this surprise on our date!

    Way to go filmmakers!

    just thought I’d share. Ruth is right in that sometimes moviegoers don’t know still what is appropriate all the time. Info about the scene is NOW on imdb, but 6 years ago it wasn’t.

  6. Dan says:

    Great post. This reminds of television viewers who write into the BBC complaining about inappropriate programming and I’m left wondering “why did you sit and watch it…not just some of it, but all of the programme since you are highlighting specific points throughout.”

    It’s a difficult subject as I think mainstream filmmakers have a responsibility simply because they are speaking to a mass audience. But I think back in the days when film was art rather than a commodity, moral responsibility shouldn’t have mattered as much as artistic expression and endeavour. We do have a responsibility to ourselves though and that ability involved choosing what we watch.

    • BBC is not a network i would associate with inappropriate material, but maybe that’s just me. But yes, continuing to watch something that morally bothers you does seem odd.

      And as for your point about the mass audience thing, i can understand it but i still don
      t think the responsibility should be on the filmmaker.

      • Dan says:

        Yet the BBC has and does receive a lot of complaints about inappropriate programming. The most recent case was the Sachsgate affair when Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand were both reprimanded (they were both suspended – Ross hasn’t appeared on BBC radio or television since) over comments about Andrew Sachs’ daughter. Now this is slightly different with it being a topical news-entertainment radio show but people still felt the need to complain. I suppose the BBC is also different because it is publicly funded and therefore has a much more focused responsibility. But what it highlights is the influence mass media, of which film is a huge part, can have on the public. With so much power, there has to be a responsibility on the creator’s part.

        • But if people complained loudly enough that BBC had to reprimand them, doesn’t that imply the viewer can choose what and what isn’t appropriate for them?

          Or at least that is my interpretation, anyways

  7. wilde.dash says:

    I agree with you, filmmakers do not have a moral responsibility. Film is an art form, and it’s the role of art to present that which we see and that which we do not see for evalutation by the audience. The audience does have a responsibility: it’s their job to process the material presented and evaluate it. Parents have a moral responsibility to discuss how the material is interpreted by their children, of course, and I’m of the opinion, frankly, that the world is in need of media literacy courses in school as much as they need a history course.

    This is a good idea, topic-wise. I may need to run with this on my own blog!

    • Glad to see i am not the only one with that position. And i’m with you on the media literacy courses…maybe if young people went through those they would realize just because someone is a entertainer does not make them a role model and that not everything shown on screen should be duplicated in real life.

      Personally, for me my dad didn’t really try to control what i watched too much, but he always insisted on watching them with him(for the most part anyways). He doesn’t really insist on this policy anymore, as he knows that i am not going to commit violent acts because i saw them in a movie, but i still watch most movies with him anyways.

  8. Ipodman says:

    I do check the “parents guide” on imdb whenever I’m looking for a new film to watch. If there is prolonged nudity or extreme violence I probably will skip it, unless it’s some kind of critically acclaimed work.
    Human centipede, Saw and Final destination are obvious no-nos for me…

  9. Custard says:

    Can’t we all just cuddle and get along?

    HAHA Great argument Julian, you put your point across beautifully. As you know I do not wholey agree with either party. I think it is not so black and white as everyone is making it. Life is about micro decisions and moral judgments on a daily basis. Everyone need to take account, and that INCLUDES the artist/filmmaker/studio/marketer.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me take part, although I think I missed the point slightly with my post. I seem to have a different angle to everyone else….:-(

  10. Pingback: Filmmakers and the Moral Obligation

  11. iluvcinema says:

    Good piece. I sit on the fence with this one – my response being “it depends.” A main component for my ambivalence with taking one side or the other is the whole “Hays Code” which was instituted in Hollywood in the 1930’s as a way of morally arbitrating how films were made. A quick skim and you will find that the issue of judging and defining morality is a very tricky one indeed.

  12. le0pard13 says:

    So many great articles associated with this blogathon, Julian. Great comments, too. Thanks.

  13. 5plitreel says:

    You’re completely right about people checking what they’re going to see first I mean c’mon do people actually walk into a theatre and just pick a film based on the title. Human centipede isn’t a funny kids film with an animated man-caterpillar running around teaching lifelessons. Antichrist was directed by VonTrier, it got an R rating and it’s called ANTIchrist for a reason.

    The only problem comes when some production companies lobby films that would be acceptable with a 11-13 rating to be pushed down to 7. If a parent wants to sneak their kid in to see a higher rated film, then it’s on the parent but sometimes the ratings on kids films aren’t really suitable.

    • Yeah, i do think ratings should be accurate so that viewers can make informed decisions. Although i don’t think the filmmaker doesn’t really control that aspect

  14. Chris says:

    True enough, limitations on art isnot the solution.
    I’m not sure you can always check to see how violent/sexual the content of a movie is before watching it. Of course the 18 certificate, trailer or reviews. I didn’t enjoy for ex The Departed because of the profanity and violence which i wasn’t expecting, to me that was a morally bankrupt film, so why it won best picture and best director I don’t know.
    The problem for me is when Tarantino makes violence cool, and Scorsese makes swearing hip, I don’t like those trends, as it influences other filmmakers, and makes it acceptable in hollywood because these famous directors get away with it…

    • When going into Scorsese film i usually expect violence and profanity..i was surprised by the lack of either in New York,New York. I don’t remember it strongly, but i don’t think i saw it as a morally bankrupt film. But i think that people should be able to find out what sort of content is in a movie so that they can make a informed decision as to whether they want to see it or not.

      And as for your second point, those trends wouldn’t last if the audience wasn’t ok with it. Although i admit i don’t see what is so unacceptable about Scorsese’s and Tarantino movies. I mean, should directors like Tarantino and Scorsese not do what they want because other filmmakers might get influenced?

  15. Novroz says:

    I enjoy reading both post and comments. You guys are so serious.
    I don’t have much to share here as everyone has said pieces of my mind here. I do agree most movie makers have no morality, but I think they should have it…since not all of them have morality issue, we are the one who should choose the movies carefully.

    Great blogathon, Julian. I will try to read the others everytime I have a chance to do that (as you know I am still very busy with my work)f my mind here. I do agree most movie makers have no morality, but I think they should have it…since not all of them have morality issue, we are the one who should choose the movies carefully.

    Great blogathon, Julian. I will try to read the others everytime I have a chance to do that (as you know I am still very busy with my work)

  16. Chris says:

    @dirtywithclass: Scorsese and Tarantino should direct want they want. I was just airing my opinion that I don’t like swearing and violence becoming cool and mainstream, nothing I can do about it.The only thing you can control is what you watch, who is influenced by who is uncontrollable.
    By the way, great blogathon with many interesting opinions, which the question allows for.

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