Walking into Christian bookstores sometimes makes me want to puke. What we’ve decided to settle for makes me sick.
As a Christian artist one of the things that frustrates me the most about the Christian culture is the acceptance of mediocre art. More often than not Christians accept bad art just because there’s a Bible verse attached to it. What it says is that people are more interested in propoganda than beauty. Quality artwork expresses both beauty (perhaps “craft” is a better word) and truth. Sometimes a piece of art will more strongly represent one of these than the other. But it seems that to enter into our Christian ghetto the most important feature of art is that it express only things which are safe and uncontroversial. Such a representation is not only a false view of life, its a false view of Christianity and the Bible.
I have never seen any of Richard Dutcher’s films. I have no idea if what he produces has any quality. But he wrote an editorial which I think is powerful and accurate for many reasons. He wrote it to the Mormon media community, but I think what he has to say has a larger audeince than just Latter Day Saints.
In my experience, those who wave the flag of “family films” are usually those who have discovered that they lack anything valuable to say, the talent to say it, and the ability to compete in the marketplace. They are looking for a popular cause to compensate for (and to excuse) their lack of ability.
Concentrate on the presence of positives in your films, not merely the absence of negatives. Focus more on the presence of good acting, writing and cinematography and less on the absence of profanity, women’s breasts and gunfights. Passionately adhere to the guideline that it is better to tell an R-rated truth than a G-rated lie.
Stop trying to make movies that you think the General Authorities would like. General Authorities buy very few movie tickets. Make films that the rest of the human family will enjoy. Stop being afraid that if you put something “edgy” in your films then maybe you won’t get any important callings. Who cares? Someone else can be in the bishopric or the Relief Society presidency, but no one else can make those films, those very personal films, that only you can make.
At the end of his article Mr. Dutcher makes it sound like he is leaving the LDS community. This makes me sad. I think someone with his perspective is desperately needed to communicate Mormon stories and values. I hope more like him arise in the Evangelical world.