Meet the Mormons

Meet the MormonsApparently the church is releasing a new film on October 10th entitled “Meet the Mormons.”  Per the news release, the “film is an opportunity for people to meet — in a very personal way — members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  It documents the lives of six different members of the church in different countries, ranging from a (female!) kickboxing champion in Costa Rica, to the head coach of the Naval Academy football team, to a WWII veteran who participated in the Berlin airlift in the 1940’s.

You can watch the trailer below:

Perhaps I’m feeling a tad cynical these days, but I find myself questioning all sorts of things about this film.  Who paid for the production costs of filming “on location around the globe?”  If the church itself financed it, where did the funds come from?  And what’s the goal here?  Is this meant to improve the church’s public image?  To familiarize people with the diversity of the people in the Mormon church?  Is the goal to provide an uplifting message and/or experience for viewers?

There are several things to applaud here – I applaud that the net proceeds (profit, minus distribution costs) will be going to the American Red Cross. I am always happy to highlight the international members of our church.  I’m especially happy to see that a female athlete is being highlighted, as she appears to be a great role model for girls in the church.  I’m always grateful for an inspiring message and an opportunity to celebrate diversity within the church.

However, if the goal here is to improve the public image of the church, I don’t know how successful this film is going to be.  I was talking to a friend about the film, and she made the following observation:

– in her opinion, most people have a favorable view of the individual Mormons they know.

– in her opinion, most people have an unfavorable view of the Mormon church as an institution.

If her observation holds up, I don’t see how “Meet the Mormons” will change that – yes, many Mormons are great. Plenty of individual Mormons do great things in their lives and for their communities.  But the institutional Mormon church is still battling a ton of negative press, mostly stemming from their stance on LGBT issues, female ordination, and the discipline of public critics.  And so while I see this film as celebrating the lives of individual Mormons, I don’t see how it will combat the criticism that I often see directed towards the institutional church itself.

I’m curious – is this how Exponent readers feel about the church and its members?  Do you plan to see the movie?  Why or why not?

Take our polls below!



Liz

Liz is a reader, writer, wife, mother, gardener, social worker, story collector, cookie-maker, and hug-giver.

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7 Responses

  1. MargaretOH says:

    At first this seemed to me like a somewhat strange missionary effort but then I started wondering what the odds were that non-Mormons would spend time and money to go see it. It’s one thing to see a 2 minute television spot or notice the “I’m a Mormon” campaign on the side of a bus, but to watch a feature-length film? The chances seem remote that a non-Mormon would think that this would be a great way to spend $10 and a Friday night. More likely it will be attracting Mormons, who will go as youth groups or families. So if the already-converted are the expected audience, then what’s the intention? To change our self-perception? To encourage people to be more accepting of diversity within our population? To feel self-congratulatory at our diversity and global population? I guess it’s still a little baffling to me, although I’m hearing good things about it and am hopeful that it will help Mormons to be more accepting of the many ways of being a Mormon.

    • Liz says:

      Agreed, MargaretOH. It seems like it’s mostly going to hit inside the echo chamber, but like you mentioned, there are benefits to that. I am also somewhat befuddled by the whole thing, although I hope it ends up having a net-positive effect.

  2. Carolinec says:

    I’m a bit befuddled by this too. Like you, Liz, I just don’t see non-Mormons paying money to see this. Though Mormons themselves (many of them, at least) would probably be happy too. Has anyone heard of any reviews of the movie? reviews by real movie critics? I’d like to know what they think of it as non-Mormons.

  3. EFH says:

    I actually think that they are targeting the non-Mormons too. Non-Mormons are curious about the LDS church because they meet Mormon colleagues who seem cool but then the church itself has such a dark history, in a way. I do think this movie is for the LDS church to paint brush its image as a mutli-ethnic and multi-cultural community. I like this message because it is true even though it is not the entire truth.

    I am curious to see how the stories will be developed in the movie. One thing I notice about the “I am a Mormon ” campaign and this kind of movies is that the church is polishing its image by talking more about interesting and divers people, especially women who are artists, philanthropists and follow their dreams and careers. What is lacking from this group is the scholars, psychologists, poets, stay at home dads, and the social workers. These are the people that study social issues and society or dare to be different from the normal morman social patterns. It would be so interesting to me to (and I think to non-Mormons) to see how Mormon scholars and psychologists make sense of the Mormon messages on social issues in the complexity and dark aspect of human behavior. To me, their contributions are missing from manuals, policies, statements and proclamations and they are so needed especially in a religious community who likes to make strong statements on social issues.

  4. EmilyCC says:

    I want to see this and I’ll take my family (FHE done and done!), but I couldn’t help but notice in that they didn’t feature a woman until 1:07 of a 1:37 clip. Sigh…

  5. Rachel says:

    I’ve watched the trailer multiple times now, and still don’t feel like I have a strong grasp of who the movie is for. I am curious how many members it highlights, and sincerely hope that women are more equally represented than the trailer portrays.

    One other thought I had while watching it was when the words popped up: It’s not about theology. I thought, “it should be.” And I remembered a presentation Terryl Givens made at my school with an accompanying power point. He very compellingly demonstrated that we as a church have historically been quite happy and quite willing to broadcast and feature our athletes, our dancers, our singers, and so forth, but we have been much less willing to broadcast and feature the sometimes strange, beautiful tenets of our faith. He named things like God’s weeping, our relationship to deity, and more. I wish that a movie about Mormons would be about what makes us different than other good people who also serve and love in and out of their communities.

  1. August 25, 2014

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