Monday, May 07, 2007

Response to "The Mormons" on PBS

I was in the middle of a move and did not get to watch the documentary. But from what I gather from those who watched it, the documentary focused primarily on marginal topics and was unbalanced. Again I didn't watch it, but if you would like to read some responses from those who did, here are two links.



OsoDelSol said...

I only caught the last half of the first night, but Ms. Proctor's assessment of the unbalanced treatment of Smith with regards to polygamy is exactly the sense I got. For a documentary that was played up to be balanced before it came out, I was definitely surprised by how much airtime the anti-'s got. If Whitney was going to take a side, she should have said so up front. A good point, no matter what one thinks about Smith, is raised by Proctor: "If he was not a prophet, one would have to acknowledge that he is at least brilliant and fluent — especially given that he had very little formal education. He influenced thousands in his time and millions after to uproot and transform their lives in dedication to Jesus Christ. He tamed the land and built cities and inspired men and women of great capacity to follow him. A fair documentary would have to not only acknowledge this, but at least explore it." Whitney didn't really do this effectively. Oddly enough, with regards to the ongoing practice of polygamy today, she was a lot friendlier and showed some credible people who got a fair amount of airtime.

It was, on the whole I felt, a little questionable to pitch the documentary as being merely exploratory when she presented some very strong conclusions without equally strong refutations. It may be, however, that whatever preconceptions she came in with or opinions she developped while she made the documentary were strong enough to influence her without her realizing that things got somewhat slanted in places (i.e., she may have still thought she was maintaining objectivity throughout).

It was at least interesting. I have to say I wasn't disappointed on that front.

OsoDelSol said...

OK, so I'm not quite done internet watching even the first half, but I'm putting in a request for a little something from you on Haun's Mill because they definitely didn't talk to anyone from the church on that topic.

Craig Pankratz said...


I'll get working on that. I wish I hadn't left my history books boxed up in Waco. Oh well, I'll make due.