Not even sure how to title this post yet, a friend of mine recently pointed me to a book that has helped me to understand what has happened with business because of the Internet. The book is now six years old, and is now somewhat dated considering that it was written about the Internet. But there are some interesting observations and essential paradigm shifts which have helped me to consider why the Mormon Cinema has yet to take hold and thrive.
I am a proponent of the Internet serving as an essential role in the establishment of a true Mormon Cinema. From a broad perspective, it is nothing more than another niche market, which the Internet should allow to flourish and to be cultivated. For those of us who have fully embraced this faith, however, the contemplation of a “Mormon” cinema is more than just another niche market, it is an extension of this unique faith to infuse in the medium of the masses the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This desire to do something better with the moving picture is not unique to the LDS faith, but there are some key doctrines that help us to uniquely tell the story of Christ . For example, we follow the admonition of the Apostle Paul in that if there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, we want to know about it (to paraphrase a well-known scripture). This has led to the BYU Television motto “See the Good” and represents a radical shift from the content of the nightly news, newstands, and websites that focus on the negative.
Brigham Young University (BYU), in general, is pretty good at noting success and downplaying the negative — which is not a fault. However, it is an institutional voice, like the LDS Church itself, which has production processes that are controlled and costly.
Now, BYU Broadcasting has within the last year started to solicit user content, inviting users to “see the good in the world” by video taping the world around them. Additionally, the LDS Church has definitely held something of an open door policy on submissions to their “Mormon Messages” campaigns.
But what would happen if we took the institutional regulation away from such processes and just open the door on user-generated content? Joseph Smith taught, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” So why can’t the same hold true for an user-generated LDS cinema? In effect, the door has already been opened, and who can close it? Does there need to be an endorsement for LDS cinema to exist or flourish?
The more I consider it, the more it seems to me that there needs to be something, somewhere that has a user base willing to uphold the standards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The question is, would the body of the Church of Christ as a collective whole be a better administrator/interpreter of divinely inspired instruction than a self-selected body of individuals? Would not a more complete and accurate picture of who Christ is be developed as His grace is manifested in the lives of seemingly countless individual stories?
I’m more questions than answers today, for the paradigm has shifted completely.