(In case you don't remember, here is the link to my last rant about Richard Dutcher: http://apersonnamedeunice.blogspot.com/2006/08/why-i-am-so-annoyed-that-richard.html )
OK, so now that I’ve had time to think a little more I believe I can make an attempt at explaining why I am so disappointed, and feel so personally affected by Dutcher’s decision.
I value Dutcher’s skill as a filmmaker and a truthteller. These things haven’t changed. But I realize now that the thing I valued him most for is the thing we have lost. I will try to explain it here.
I have always believed that there is a large audience of LDS consumers of art that hasn’t been tapped yet. These are the people who are literate, who appreciate a more filling kind of fiction, for example, than your usual Deseret Book fare, but who have learned to look outside of LDS literature to get what they want. I have met these people in book groups all over the country. I believe that they would love a more challenging (but still faithful) LDS literature . . . IF (and it’s a big if) they felt that they could trust the literature to be both faithful AND not shallow. They don’t want to be talked down to, preached to, or emotionally manipulated. But they don’t want to read an “LDS” novel that drags their minds through the gutter or ends with people “seeing the light” and leaving the church.
And I don’t think these are unreasonable expectations. Nor do I think there is no such kind of literature (or film) out there, especially after my involvement in AML. The trick is to get the literature/films PRODUCED, PUBLISHED and MARKETED. That is an awfully big trick.
The other trick is to EDUCATE this audience that there can be such a thing, and to help them grow into understanding and accepting such a kind of art.
I saw Richard Dutcher as being in a prime position to do this kind of educating. He was producing the kind of art I wanted to see, the kind I knew we were capable of. He didn’t get the financial support he should have, but that’s because his audience is young, and just beginning to grow in trust that we can produce such things. I felt he had a great future ahead of him of influencing the LDS audience for good. He will continue to influence some of us, but he has lost the position I had felt he had. He will no longer be able to influence the people I was hoping he would reach. I feel a huge sense of loss about this.
There are still some very promising writers and filmmakers, and I have great hopes that others of us will step in and do what Dutcher will no longer be able to do. But I have lost one of my heroes. I am deeply sorry for myself.
By the way, why doesn’t Deseret Book get smart and come out with a new imprint designated for book groups? I know of several manuscripts that would be perfect to reach this audience I’m talking about. Why don’t they go out on a limb and publish some of these under a “bookgroup” label? I think it would catch on and do really well. (I have to give credit to Angela Hallstrom for this idea.)