CAP Reports

Here is a help for LDS that doesn’t come from an LDS source. It is a Christian Ministry called the ChildCare Action Project (CAP) that reviews movies and rates them according to how much offensive material is in the movie.

Here is the link to the big list of movie reviews:

Childcare Action Project (CAP) Ministry Reports

Using CAP reports, a person can quickly make a judgment call of whether a movie is appropriate for children, before seeing it themselves. One of the keys to the reports is the Findings/Scoring graph, that consists of six thermometers representing Wanton Violence/Crime (W), Impudence/Hate (I), Sexual Immorality (S), Drugs/Alcohol (D), Offense to God (O), and Murder/Suicide (M). This, of course, spells WISDOM. To illustrate, let’s look at the CAP report for Meet the Robinsons, beginning with its Findings/Scoring graph:

Below the Findings/Scoring graph is a list of every questionable portrayal found in the movie. For example, for Meet the Robinsons, under the Wanton Violence/Crime category is listed:

  • theft
  • anger tantrum
  • identity fraud
  • slapstick violence throughout
  • character on fire
  • characters being attacked and eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex (snatched into its mouth but spit out later)
  • impalement through chest of robot emulating impalement gore
  • attack by “zombies”
  • This list continues point by point throughout each of the letters of the WISDOM graph. In addition to this extraordinary help in judging the merits of a film, each movie is assigned a new rating based upon the CAP scoring method. So, in this case, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA )assigned a rating of G to Meet the Robinsons whereas the CAP model assigned a rating of PG-G. Also, a CAPCon Alert signal is shown for each reviewed movie. This lets parents know at a glance “the relative amount of assaults on morality and decency in a film.” Meet the Robinsons received the following CAPCon Alert signal:

    The CAP web site states: “We give you OBJECTIVE tools NO ONE ELSE CAN to help YOU make an informed decision for yourself whether a film is fit for your family.” I agree with that assessment. The tools really are objective and no one else seems to be supplying this information. Not even the LDS. To see the latest reviews, click this graphic–>

    I was planning on publishing this post awhile ago and I may be a bit too late. This ministry is having major problems with funding. Apparently, between 10 and 11 million people have used the service, but only four donors are coughing up money to keep it going and, unfortunately, it is not enough. It would be a shame to see it end. If it does die, I honestly do not think that the LDS can do a better job than this minister can, nor do I think anyone would volunteer to fill in his shoes. He seems to think that God guided him to establish the CAP ministry and I tend to agree.

    Visit the web site and check it out. If you are a LDS who frequents the movie theaters and would like to have this ministry and service remain in place, you may want to contribute to keep it afloat.

    Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist


    1. Speaking of movies, here’s a good one:

      Rate that!

    2. I looked at a few movies they have rated that I have seen to get a sense of how they work and I can’t say I like it much. As a tawdry list, it’s successful, but this method’s ability to put things in context is awful. If you were to run Genesis through their metric, it would fail utterly.

      A character tells a lie. The score is impacted. What would be much more meaningful is a discussion of what sort of consequences that lie had. Are the consequences true to lying? Or are they glorifying a lie? The same may be said of anything else they measure. to pass this test, all characters must begin good and end good. No room for growth or development or, for that matter, story.

      It’s what a story means that matters. Not its list of unpleasant details.

    3. Until I had my eldest son, I would have agreed with you that merely listing the bad behavior should not be sufficient to impact a rating score, that how the bad behavior is portrayed (bad is bad or bad is good) should alone indicate whether the film should receive a lower score. However, my oldest boy has changed my view. He has the unfortunate habit of focusing on and emulating whatever bad behavior he sees. It doesn’t matter how much good material and good behavior is in the movie, if there is any part of it that shows bad behavior, even bad behavior displayed as wrongful and with unfortunate consequences, he will come away from that movie emulating it.

      As a parent, I’ve come to more fully realize that the maturity level of children varies greatly, even children of the same age and sex can be vastly different in maturity. Of my own children, although there is nearly a decade of age difference between the youngest and the oldest, my youngest is the “old spirit” of the bunch, wise way beyond his years. Nevertheless, he and all the rest are still children, and despite the attempt to explain the difference between right and wrong, the young children still have a hard time distinguishing between the two principles.

      Many movies do not attempt to show the consequences of the actions of the characters, or do not attempt to show the actions in a bad or good light. They just show the actions. Many movies just assume that the audience is mature enough to figure out what actions are bad and what actions are good. This is okay with adults who can tell the difference between right and wrong. But with children, this is dangerous.

      Even movies that do attempt to instruct on the moralities of the actions of the characters may or may not do a sufficient job. And even if they do a sufficient job, it still depends upon the maturity of the child to be able to actually learn the lesson. (My eldest son comes to mind.)

      The scriptures do, indeed, present some pretty horrendous scenes, but most, if not all, of these scenes are presented as good behavior/bad behavior, so reading the scriptures doesn’t make someone confuse good for evil or evil for good.

      The same cannot be said with movies, which don’t take the responsibility of presenting all the actions and words and thoughts of the characters in scriptural or gospel lights. The main thrust of most movies is to tell a story. Again, that is fine for adults. Children, though, are fertile minds that absorb all things readily, good or bad. They don’t have our adult filters.

      The CAP scoring method has children in mind as well as the unique characteristics of the child’s mind, when scoring a movie. So, Meet the Robinsons, for example, was given a G rating by the MPAA, while CAP gave it a PG-G rating. I’ve seen Meet the Robinsons, and in my own estimation, it should have been rated PG (like the CAP rating) and not G (as the MPAA gave it.)

      When comparing CAP to the MPAA, CAP is simply superior. The MPAA ratings system is very basic. For example, for G-rated movies (General Audiences, All Ages Admitted), the MPAA simply says this:

      A G-rated motion picture contains nothing in theme, language, nudity, sex, violence or other matters that, in the view of the Rating Board, would offend parents whose younger children view the motion picture. The G rating is not a “certificate of approval,” nor does it signify a “children’s” motion picture. Some snippets of language may go beyond polite conversation but they are common everyday expressions. No stronger words are present in G-rated motion pictures. Depictions of violence are minimal. No nudity, sex scenes or drug use are present in the motion picture.

      Much of the above is subjective. The Rating Board decides what “would offend parents.” It doesn’t tell what the “snippets of language” are that go beyond polite conversation. It doesn’t say what it considers “common everyday expressions” to be. For example, characters in G-rated films are often heard to say “fool,” “idiot,” “imbecile” and other insults to other characters. In my home, we don’t consider these to be the type of common, everyday expressions we want our children using. The CAP reports gives much more information than the MPAA does, which allows a parent to better judge whether a movie is appropriate for the maturity level of each of the children he or she may have.

      In all fairness, there are other rating systems out there that also do a better job than the MPAA does. For example, take the movie “Iron Man,” which the MPAA rates as PG-13 “for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief suggestive content.” That doesn’t tell you much. The CAP Iron Man rating does much better, but there is also the Kids-In-Mind Iron Man rating and the Christian Spotlight on Entertainment Iron Man rating. Comparing the four systems to each other is helpful in determining weaknesses and strengths.

      The one thing that really sets the CAP model apart, though, is its unique Offense to God category. No other system seems to single this out. So, for example, all the use of wizardry and sorcery in the Harry Potter movies will affect the score. In other systems, this isn’t even an issue.

    4. I see your point and it makes sense. I have never thought the MPAA ratings were worth much. A few guys in LA with unknown biases telling me what movies are appropriate never sat well with me.

      Ratings are a common topic at family get-togethers, I have two brothers who are movie buffs and the whole “don’t see R rated movies” thing Mormons have can cramp their style. They continually talk of rating systems in different countries, life before the PG-13 rating came around , “unrated” versions, etc.

      The CAP rating system is definitely more thorough and informative, which is nice. It also breaks down which specific areas caused a movie to score low, which is also nice.

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