There are some people who think that morals and money like the proverbial oil and water don’t mix. They assume that, for business to earn, ethics must take a back seat or step out altogether. Yet, still SM Cinemas imposed in 2002 its policy “not to screen movies classified by the MTRCB [Movie and Television Review and Classification Board] as R-18 … to offer wholesome and family-oriented entertainment.” (Jeffrey O. Valisno, “SM’s no-R-18 movies rule: How a mall can change an industry,” Business World,” January 29-30, 2010, http://www.bworldonline.com/) R-18 rated movies are for adults only. Cinemas that show such movies do not allow anyone below the age of 18 to watch it. SM’s policy includes trailers of R-18 movies. Business World added, “With the SM Group controlling a third of all the 647 cinema screens nationwide, the movie industry is invariably affected by its policies. More importantly, since SM contributes more than half of the total gross revenues of the entire cinema industry in the country, movie producers will most likely pay attention to the company’s rules.”
Though he disagrees with the policy, famous scriptwriter Ricky Lee admitted that it is changing the movie landscape: “I cannot do a script that I know that producers will just reject knowing that it will get an R-18 rating from the MTRCB”. Lee claims that it affects artistic freedom. “The industry should be able to do what it wants, without external pressure, especially from a corporate giant like SM. It is unfortunate that it seems that we have no choice but to follow their rules, or suffer in the box-office”. I just wonder if the freedom he is talking about is not really about expression but the freedom to make money at the expense of people’s morals.
Whether SM acted out of conscience or corporate social responsibility or just plain business strategy, we ought to laud its R-18 move. Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation” (ESV). We Christ-followers are often accused of imposing our morality on others. But those who cry out against us are also in effect imposing their morals or the lack of it on us. The problem is that those people demand such freedom but only limit it to their expression and seek to exclude us from questioning them. Also, that freedom is not absolute. One cannot just shout “Fire!” in a crowded movie house. It has to be responsible freedom.
Brethren, pray for more good business.