“Mormon” as its own genre

Well, so I’ve been through the whole “LDS fiction” genre discussion here and here and here.

But not here. I’m not late to the party, as I’ve been stewing about this for a while, but the LA Times article gave me something else to throw in the stew pot.

Richard Dutcher, the regrettably monikered “father of Mormon film,” has released his latest film, Falling, in a limited number of venues. As of last year, he also released the moniker and the church. In a statement made last year, he said he was “leaving Mormon moviemaking to the Mormons.” Which is sad because as far as I can gather, his work was seen by some as “so very supportive of both our community and its faith.”

(Psst: Mr. Dutcher. Call me!)

On LDS Review, which refused to review the film, one commenter opined:

Dutcher said he was done with “Mormon cinema” so this appears to be his breakout and break away from that genre.

A partial quote from the LA Times article:

Despite its provocative handling of LDS faith, Dutcher insists Falling is, in effect, a Mormon movie insofar as its themes and imagery will be most meaningful to Latter-day Saints (never mind that, by default, they are embargoed from seeing an R-rated film). But then, doesn’t that still make him a Mormon filmmaker?

“At the beginning, I was proud to say, ‘Yeah, I’m a Mormon filmmaker’ because then, I was defining what a Mormon filmmaker was,” Dutcher said. “It quickly got completely out of my control. Now, no one wants to call themselves a Mormon filmmaker because you’re associating yourself with a genre that’s fallen into disrepute. It’s like having porn on your résumé.”

Fallen into disrepute because of what, boys and girls? Ding ding ding! That’s right. Mediocrity in the name of being safe and inoffensive. William Morris has asked this question: …can the believing LDS community produce great art? but I don’t know if he has received a satisfactory answer yet.

It wasn’t a month ago I was reading the distress call about the death of Mormon film (sorry, can’t remember the blog) for the exact reason Dutcher stated: It’s fallen into disrepute.

So is “Mormon”/“LDS” its own genre? I had thought I’d wrapped it all up nicely in pretty paper and bow with “LDS fiction is its own genre,” but the difference between Mormon fiction and Mormon film is that Mormon fiction isn’t seen in the wild (e.g., Barnes & Noble), but Mormon film is (e.g., God’s Army and Brigham City and Falling). Seems to me that art headed for the great beyond (i.e., not just for church members) ought to have some other genre identifier than “Mormon.”

Is this where we are? As long as it’s got “Mormon” slapped on the front of it before being sent abroad, it’s been adequately defined?

2 thoughts on ““Mormon” as its own genre

  • August 20, 2008 at 2:18 am



    (And, incidentally, I’ve learned that artists in other media are anxiously avoiding getting that ‘Mormon’ stigma applied to their branch of the arts.

    Oh, what a world!

  • August 20, 2008 at 8:03 am

    I wish I could figure out which blog I read (I know I followed it off Toward an LDS Cinema) about the death of Mormon film because he stated it much better than I did or could.


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