Monday, September 29, 2008

A Response to Richard Dutcher

Richard Dutcher, the father of Mormon cinema, wrote an article for the Provo Daily Herald and shared his parting words regarding Mormon cinema. One particular quote seemed to jump out at me and although I have little or nothing to say in response to the issues raised by Mr. Dutcher, I felt that this particular idea needed a rebuttal of some sort.

Mr. Dutcher implored Mormons to "put the moronic comedies behind [them]. If [they]'re going to make comedies, at least make them funny. Perhaps [they] should leave the mockery of Mormons to the anti-Mormons. They've had a lot more experience and, frankly, they do a better job."

While reading Washington Irving's The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent, I happened upon a few short stories regarding traditional Christmas celebrations in Yorkshire, England that are rather lighthearted in nature. At the conclusion of the final story, Mr. Irving makes the following observation.

But enough of Christmas and its gambols; it is time for me to pause in this garrulity. Methinks I hear the questions asked by my graver readers, "To what purpose is all this? how is the world to be made wiser by this talk?" Alas! is there not wisdom enough extant for the instruction of the world? And if not, are there not thousands of abler pens laboring for its improvement? It is so much pleasanter to please than to instruct--to play the companion rather than the preceptor. What, after all, is the mite of wisdom that I could throw into the mass of knowledge! or how am I sure that my sagest deductions may be safe guides for the opinions of others? But in writing to amuse, if I fail the only evil is in my own disappointment. If, however, I can by any lucky chance, in these days of evil, rub
out one wrinkle from the brow of care or beguile the heavy heart of one moment of sorrow; if I can now and then penetrate through the gathering film of misanthropy, prompt a benevolent view of human nature, and make my reader more in good-humor with his fellow-beings and himself--surely, surely, I shall not then have written entirely in vain.
Life is too short to be fed a constant diet of 'serious' movies. Sure, we all like to watch a serious, thought-provoking drama sometimes. But for all the bad things that go on in the world, people sometimes have to step back and have a good laugh at themselves. Every once in a while people need brainless, meaningless fodder to put life into perspective. To argue otherwise, as Mr. Dutcher did, makes one come across sounding like a Puritan or a Debbie Downer.


Mormon Heretic said...

Yes, I think I agree with your analysis. Not every movie has to be serious. There is room for comedy.

Having said that, there are some real stinkers out there. I agree with Dutcher that movies like Singles Ward 2, Down and Derby were terrible. However, I disagree with Dutcher--I loved Singles Ward.

Davey Morrison said...

Dutcher himself has said a good comedy is a great thing. I, like him, only require of a comedy that it: A) be funny, B) be good, or C) ideally, a little of both.

Davey Morrison said...

New interview with Dutcher, in which he discusses "Falling" in detail (in addition to his other five films--"God's Army," "Brigham City," "States of Grace," "Girl Crazy," and "Evil Angel"), and also talks about his two films he'll be shooting later this year:

The Misanthropic Mormon said...

i'm with davey morrison.

Chris Almond said...

You quote Richard Dutcher and then refute something other than what he said. You argue that comedies are a good thing, yet the very quote you used by Dutcher makes the same point. He agrees that comedies have value, he is simply, and accurately in my opinion, stating that Mormon comedies are not well made.

DPC said...

Although it's been a while since I read the original article by Mr. Dutcher, and I'm too lazy to read it again now, if I recollect properly, his article was rather dour and overly serious. I was merely agreeing with Irving in that not ever endeavor has to be highbrow as Mr. Dutcher seems to be arguing for.