Tuesday, April 03, 2007
LDS on Upcoming PBS Special
Yesterday, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released an interesting preemptive statement in its newsroom: "PBS Film Likely to Cause Debate." This piece refers to the upcoming PBS Special: "The Mormons." From all appearances (and those involved in this documentary have kept a fairly tight lid on this project), this documentary should be groundbreaking. PBS is already taking pre-orders for the DVD (would anyone like to send me a copy as a graduation present?!?).

In any case, the following is an excerpt from the LDS newswroom:

A few scholars, including some who appear in the documentary, have seen substantial parts of the program.

Their initial reaction: Church leaders and members are extraordinarily eloquent in explaining the tenets of their faith. The film is not superficial, which is often a criticism leveled at television coverage.

However, some raised concern about what they feel is a disproportionate amount of time given to topics that are not central to the Church’s faith. For instance, polygamy comes in for extensive treatment in the first program, including substantial attention to present-day polygamous groups that have nothing to do with today’s Church. The time devoted to portrayals of modern fundamentalist polygamy seems inconsistent with the filmmaker's stated purposes of getting inside the LDS experience, and of exploding, rather than reinforcing, stereotypes.

Other scholars criticize what they say is an imbalance in the treatment of some topics, particularly the events at Mountain Meadows in 1857. One said the film provides a distorted and highly unbalanced account of Brigham Young and the Mountain Meadows Massacre alike.

Michael Purdy of the Church’s Public Affairs Department has followed the Whitney documentary closely for the past three years.

“The big question that members of the Church are asking is whether these programs will come close to capturing the essence of how Latter-day Saints define and see themselves,” he said.

“Will members look at these films and say, ‘yes, that’s me.’ Or will they look at it and say, ‘even after four hours, they missed the point.’ It comes down to both content and context and it is important that those closest to the faith see themselves in the portrayal.”


posted at 1:30 PM  
Comments (1)

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Arthur Sido said...

It is interesting how the mormon church has changed it's responses to anything that may not be "faith affiriming" from ignoring them to full on attack mode. These preemptive responses to TV specials, books (like Krakauer's), etc. strike me as very similar to political spin machines, seizing the initiative.


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