Monday, September 27, 2010

D-News Movie Reviews Go Catholic

Posted By on September 27, 2010, 2:23 PM

Joseph Smith once taught, "If the Catholic church is bad, how can any good thing come out of it?" Apparently the editors of the Deseret News have decided that Catholic views on movies are exempt. ---

In an article published in the Friday, Sept. 24 "Life Etc." section of the Deseret News, Aaron Shill wrote that the paper will now be providing reviews from the Catholic News Service, the modern-day offshoot of what once was the National Legion of Decency. The reviews are intended, according to a quote attributed to John Mulderig of the Media Reviewing Office, "to provide parents with detailed information about what their children will see if they attend a given film and to guide adults, be they Catholics, believers of another stripe or simply people of good will, in their movie-going decisions."

Full disclosure department, #1: Jeff Vice, until recently the film critic for the Deseret News, is a friend. Full disclosure department, #2: Fifteen some-odd years ago, when this writer was trying to start a career as a film writer, I contributed to a Website which -- among other things -- provided detailed listings of profanities and other potentially objectionable content. There's a place for providing such information to those who choose to avoid certain content, as other Websites such as Christian Critic have demonstrated in recent years, though I'd never wish on anyone else the task of filling a notebook with tally marks representing the F-bombs in Casino.

Nevertheless, this marriage of convenience between the Mormon Church-owned paper and Catholic News Service feels like only one of the more obvious examples of what you can expect to see from the post-layoffs, new look D-News. Yes, it could be perceived as a case of servicing its readership as the current leadership perceives it. But it's also an announcement that real, challenging arts criticism may now be about as likely to appear in the paper as real, challenging reporting. Instead, you can expect reviews where the current crime thriller The Town is graded "O" for "morally objectionable" in part because "the nun costumes donned by the gang ... jar on Catholic sensibilities in particular."

Chinese writer Han Suyin once famously noted, "Moralists have no place in an art gallery." They do, however, apparently have a place in an arts section.


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