Advice From My Wife (Sort of Like ‘Plugged In’)

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 I’m the tech support for my wife’s in-home design studio. It’s a role I’ve always taken seriously and been rather proud of. I have from time to time had to seek out some help from brains more developed than mine if I really got stuck, but for the most part I’mthe man.

And there it is, that attitude that needs to be checked at the door. I recently upgraded an operating system on a laptop, and that’s when the problems all started. Our modem seemed to be all of a sudden rebooting itself at random. The first order of business that any good tech guy knows is that you retrace your steps and figure out exactly what’s changed with your hardware, software, etc. My wife jumped right in with, “Didn’t you just upgrade the laptop’s OS?” I let out a quick, condescending chuckle and made the brilliant observation that in order for that to be true, “Then maybe the car won’t start because the dishwasher is broken.”

Two modems and a few tech support calls later and there it was: This particular OS does in fact cause random drops on Wi-Fi networks and can also be the culprit of a randomly rebooting modem. Looks like maybe my wife needs to hire a real tech support guy. Or not. She pretty much figured this one out on her own.

Lesson learned. Never get so big for your britches that you don’t listen to someone who’s offering a possible solution to a problem.

That’s exactly what we here at Plugged In do for our readers and listeners. We try very hard to offer suggestions that may sound odd from the world’s point of view. You know, like maybe steering clear of that new “family” sitcom or avoiding that latest “innocuous” pop radio hit. It may serve you well to take the time to hear a perspective that’s so simple yet so effective at the same time.

Who wrote this?

Graphic Designer for PLUGGEDIN.COM. Cutting his design teeth at Scripture Press/Cook Communications, Kevin brings years of ministry and freelance experience to Plugged In's visual presentation. He also analyzes video games for our reviews and contributes an occasional blog.

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Just stumbled on this discussion, sorry for chiming in so late but I feel this discussion merits a response, so here's my 2 cents.

I believe the reviewers at PluggedIn are humans. Christian humans. They submit reviews of entertainment because they know many of us Christians want to know what we are getting into before we partake of movie/game etc. I have not agreed with every possible review they have put out, and listening to the podcast you'll find that the participants themselves don't 100% agree on every nuance. My point is this, they are human. Christian humans that post information relevant to conscience Christians or people who have families. If a reviewer finds some material particularly objectionable, sometimes because the message has a underlying tone, and they record they're misgivings, the way I see it, they are doing their job. As a Christian, I am very thankful to be made aware of the concerns in entertainment, and I personally do not wish to see them change the way cover entertainment.  There are things going on more and more in every entertainment sector, that quite honestly, I want no part of for me or my family. PluggedIn is an ESSENTIAL tool for me to guide my family over what's appropriate. If they do their job with a sense of conviction, as a Christian, that's something I do not want them to turn off.

syd collings More than 1 year ago

@ return2torah

If you read the comments closely, you should have also understood that the commenter is implying that he/she likes SOMEthings on PI, though not all. Otherwise, like you said, why still come here?

Not everyone likes everything on PI. In fact, I doubt that there is any such person who likes everything on this site or agrees with every opinion. Yes, the reviewers are entitled to their opinions but that is not the point. The point is that they could recognize that their opinions tend to come off as overly sanctimonious. Their opinions are not immune from criticism.

freedomn christ More than 1 year ago

I have been keeping up with all the comments and it looks like the consensus is that plugged in comes across as judgmental in their reviews. I absolutely agree that that can be the case (and often is). However, it is their right as operators of the site to express themselves and their opinions in whatever way they see fit. Maybe they will read these comments and take the advice of the commenters as I will attempt to summarize.

"At least some viewers of plugged in would appreciate it if the sometimes condescending and morally superior tone of the reviews were stemmed a bit. Rather than judging a viewer for watching a film, perhaps a better solution would be to allow for comments under the review as to what redeeming value/qualities the viewer has found in the film. I think, since we are all here, that we appreciate the service plugged in provides, and while we may not agree with it we do respect the perspective that plugged in brings to the table."

Now, one commenter asked another why they were even here. I cannot speak for them, but what I took from their comment, and the one they were replying to, is that if the first commenter didn't like anything about the site (which is totally what I took away from their remarks, even if I am wrong that's how it read to me) why did they come here still? That's not to say they SHOULD leave, but rather, why WOULD you come here if you hate everything about the site?

That's my pining onions, also known as an opinion.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

@ yuppie_word

I agree. That is one of the things that bother me about some of the reviews. The contempt the reviewer feels for a movie is painfully obvious and they seem to be implicitly condemning those that watch the movie as "bad christians".

I  always look at the moral and artistic merits of a movie, neither is controlling over the other.

Rebecca Greer More than 1 year ago

My viewpoint is also more liberal than that of FotF/PI, but there are many movies I love that I would not be comfortable with letting a child watch. Thus, I think Plugged In is a good tool, especially for families who want to find out if the latest movie that everyone is talking about is okay for them to watch with their children. When I have kids, I intend to be very discerning about what they watch and will probably use this website for that purpose.

However, what I don't like about Plugged In is when they make the reader feel guilty or like a bad Christian if they are interested in seeing a certain movie (for example, "Cloud Atlas" or "Django Unchained"). I know some movies are completely irredeemable, and in those cases the reviewers' contempt is justified (such as in their reviews for "Movie 43" or "A Haunted House"), but there are plenty of other movies that have value despite the content issues. Plenty of people (myself included) see movies for many other reasons than mere entertainment value. I personally like movies that are emotionally or intellectually stimulating or that deal with difficult or controversial topics: movies that make for good discussions long after the credits have rolled. I think it's good that we all have different viewpoints when it comes to media--that's what enables us to have interesting discussions on these blogs--but I don't think people should be talked down to just because they choose to watch (or not watch) a certain film.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Anon@10:19, why not grade some artistic appeal too? As Anon@1:38 said, "sometimes opinions of other people will help you with your problems".

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Sometimes opinions of other people will help you with your problems

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

@ Anon 10:19

His criticisms of the reviews does not preclude him from using this site. I agree with some of what he's saying but I'm here anyway. I too I'm quite liberal and I'm still here. I'm tired of people suggesting that ''you should do elsewhere'' just because they disagree with some of PI's reviews. Not everyone agrees with what the reviewers say.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Wow Anon 5:19, why are you even on this site if that's what you think? I'm quite a lot more liberal than FotF/PI but I don't care if they count swear words or imply that a movie is terrible content-wise. At least that way I have a conservative opinion to compare to the many that analyze only the artistic appeal.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

@ Anon 5:19

It's not always like that, it depends on the reviewer. Plus, I'm sure you only feel that way when it's a movie you are interested in seeing or that you saw and enjoyed.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

The Plugged In Formula For Movies:

Step #1: Describe something that most people hate, then say that the movie being reviewed is just as bad (if not worse) than that.

Step #2: List off anything that involves family values. Add spoilers.

Step #3: List off any religious content.

Step #4: State how many cuss-words were said (grouped by first letter).

Step #5: List off the situations where drugs or alchohol is used.

Step #6: List any actions of violence in the movie.

Step #7: List any other bad content that dosen't fit into steps 4-6.

Step #8: Try to say that the movie is bad in any way possible, and then end the review with a metaphor that tries to be witty, but ends up sounding cheesier than a Weird Al music video.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

I think that is my only complaint about PI reviews: too many spoilers. I just skim specific sections of the review that I'm interested in or I go and find a review that doesn't have as many spoilers.

freedomn christ More than 1 year ago

Oh, and I agree, I also read multiple reviews for many different perspectives on a film. At least if I have questions about it. Some movies you just get the feeling that they will rock and I want to know as little as possible going in!

freedomn christ More than 1 year ago

What is their agenda in your opinion?

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

@ return2torah

True. But at least Ebert doesn't have an agenda. And I read multiple reviews at various sites.

freedomn christ More than 1 year ago

To the anonymous above, I respect your opinion and your right to it, and won't say you're wrong because that is how you feel. However, I wonder if you have that expectation of every movie review site or just for plugged in. They are here to offer reviews of movies, games, tv shows, music, and occassionally books. The key is REVIEW, that entails an opinion. Do you ask Ebert not to give his opinion? If not, why the double standard?

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

I think PluggedIn should focus on just the facts. Not on giving opinions.

freedomn christ More than 1 year ago

Well I for one thank you guys for your elaboration. I cannot speak for Mr. Simpson, but I think dialoguing is very important and that this one isn't COMPLETELY off topic. We are helping each other, and maybe (hopefully?) plugged in writers/reviewers, to hear advice and opinions that will help us grow.

As most everyone is anonymous I will address my response in singular fashion while acknowledging there are multiple responders. I totally see the argument that they should only give information and not opinions, but that would render moot the idea of an actual review. As I said (and agree that sometimes they overexaggerate an issue) I do not always align my thinking with theirs, but that actually helps me to understand why I DID like whatever they didn't.

Not to try to undermine your christian friends, but maybe if the reviewer says that no "real" christian would like this movie, book, music, tv show you could simply ask your friends what appeals to them about that particular item. For example, I LOVE zombie films and stories, but I HATE the gore associated with them. For me it is about the coming together of man in a common purpose, the battle for survival, and my personal fave is when the writers have characters willing to die for one another simply because that is what we "should" do for each other.  

If they can't give you a reason other than "it's entertaining" then maybe it IS something they shouldn't be watching. That's my OPINION, I'm not the entertainment police and certainly not their judge. However, we are to help each other be the best people we can be, and if that includes faith then we are held to a higher standard. I recently watched Dredd and I loved it. There was a TON of content I could do without but seeing an uncompromising character with integrity that upheld decency and law was refreshing to me, as opposed to "heroes" that are really villains in disguise. So it was worth it to ME to wade through the rest to be spoken to as a viewer. Had it simply been; cool explosion, gnarly killshot, funny lines, etc then it wouldn't have had value.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Not to speak for anyone else here, but I can offer a few examples of the sort of thing that perhaps some of the other Anonymouses (Anonymi?) may be responding to. I've read several posts by PI staff in which they expressed the opinion or attitude that a person approving of whatever-thing-being-discussed (or WTBD, if you will) could not possibly be a 'real' Christian. When you have Christian friends, whose hearts and faith you admire very, very much, who do approve of WTBD, it can be very troubling to see someone dismissing their faith out-of-hand on the basis of their opinion of a single film (for instance). Or at least it is for me. Obviously, a more extreme example of sanctimony gone awry, but a significant one nonetheless. Their are also moments where a PI writer's distaste for WTBD is expressed in such a way it actually exaggerates or mischaracterizes WTBD in a way that (very clearly unintentionally, but still notably) borders on dishonest. And then there are the moments where they actually do proliferate misinformation on WTBD, such as almost anytime they champion any sort of research on media-violence connections.

Now, I consider the comments above to be a completely separate issue from merely disagreeing with the writer. I value disagreement. In all honesty, I engage in discussions here because I like having such interesting people and things to disagree with. It's a fun and constructive (for me, at least (for everyone else, I sincerely hope)) social and mental exercise, and it makes me think about things in ways I haven't before. To me, the comments above refer to moments when the article/dialogue becomes dishonest instead of instructive.

I'm a bit reluctant to post this, most significantly out of genuine respect for PI's writers, who I think do try very, very hard to fulfill their obligations as writers, Christians, and human beings, and succeed in their attempts as much as anyone else. And, I hasten to add, not all of my comments are meant to apply to all of PI's staff. But if, for better or for worse, we are on the subject, these are the sorts of things that have bothered me in the past.

My deepest apologies, Mr. Simpson, that this conversation is taking place on your article. This dialogue really is completely unrelated to your (in my opinion, quite valuable) thoughts presented here, and I very much hope you'll believe me when I say I mean no personal attack, disrespect, or ill will towards you. Or any of PI's staff, for that matter.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

That being stated, that sort of thoroughness is what keeps me coming back to this site and has done so for years, even though I don't always agree with the writers' conclusions.  I've long since grown tired of seeing really short movie reviews on other sites, and I do enjoy the attention to detail that Plugged In generally maintains.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

I feel like Focus's "Thriving Family" thing (thrivingfamily.com) actually does a really good job of having a "just the facts" presentation.  Here's their review of the first Game of Thrones novel ( www.thrivingfamily.com/.../game-of-thrones.aspx ) -- complete with lots of spoilers and adult content, be warned -- and there's basically no attitude or attempt at 'humor' in the review whatsoever.

It's a straightforward and rather thorough layout of the content in the book (which I read, so I can testify to the review's accuracy), and while I do sometimes enjoy the wit in Plugged In's movie reviews, I would prefer this sort of all-business approach instead.

freedomn christ More than 1 year ago

I was hoping some of the people that dislike plugged in, or at least disagree with their "sanctimonious" tone, would elaborate a bit on what you are wanting from them.

I do not agree with everything, in fact a lot, of what plugged in believes and says. However, I absolutely appreciate what they represent and are trying to accomplish. We can get secular reviews and opinions anywhere, they are a dime a dozen. This site gives specific information about what content is in a film, tv show, or music. Sometimes they are more offended by something than I am, but I accept that that is the difference between me and the reviewer. In addition, they have a specific core of beliefs and are fighting hard to hold on to that set of ideals.

If I am understanding some of you, and commenters on other threads, it seems as though you want them to be more accepting of things that they find offensive not only to themselves but also to the faith itself. I could be wrong, hence a GENUINE appeal for an elaboration on your expectations.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

It would be nice to see the blog posts reflect a bit more of opinion or thoughtful reflection. The reviews of course are meant to reveal potential negative content, but the blog posts don't (in my opinion) need to be so 'restrained', if you will. Regardless, I still appreciate and respect what Pluggedin is attempting to do, and this site is one of the first places I go to look up a movie review. (please note that I am not any of the previous anonymous persons who have commented.)

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Don't you think you can catalogue and discuss said details without the sort of attitude some readers complain about?

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Plugged In's reviews are meant to catalogue every negative detail found in movies/games/television. The site must serve the most conservative individuals as well as the more liberal. Many of you complain about the "overly sanctimonious" feel the site creates. The fact is, the site's popularity would drop if it didn't serve the needs of even the most careful viewer.