People have been asking me all day: "What did you think?"
I found it boring, believe it or not. And I follow this stuff closely because of Article VI Blog, which I help write. Anytime a movie has me looking at my watch 30 minutes in, that's a bad sign.
I woke up this morning and asked myself: If I were completely new to Mormonism, and "The Mormons" were my first exposure to the Church, what would I come away from last night's episode thinking? These thoughts came to mind:
1. Joseph Smith was a charismatic rogue (and perhaps a charlatan), much like modern-day cult leaders. I would know very little of why so many normal, everyday people loved him.
2. The Mountain Meadows Massacre, rather than being a horrible atrocity that is not part of virtually any modern Mormon's religious life, is in fact critically important to the history of the Church and has some modern-day significance. (Otherwise, why would the event get 20 minutes of the documentary's time?)
3. Will Bagley is simply a "historian" who sure seems to know a lot about Mountain Meadows. I would have no idea that Bagley has published a book sharply critical of Brigham Young's role in the matter.
4. Margaret Toscano is simply a "writer" and just another keen observer of Mormonism, not someone famously excommunicated over disagreements with the Church leadership.
5. A talking head's status as a "former LDS educator" apparently does not raise any questions about his possible bias. I mean, if Ken Clark (the talking head) were part of an organization called The Exmormon Foundation, the filmmakers would have disclosed that. Right? Oops, looks like he is, and they didn't mention it.
6. Mormonism is all about polygamy, the splinter groups that still practice polygamy are a significant part of the modern Mormon experience, and many modern Mormons harbor a suppressed longing for the practice. (If I were a very careful and discerning viewer, I might wonder why a non-member anthropologist was the source of that latter interpretation of what Mormons think in their hearts.)
7. Boy, do those Mormons like to dance! (Anyone else find that emphasis a bit bizarre?)
I could go on. But those are the items that would stand out for me.