Elders on the Big Screen : Film and the Globalized Circulation of Mormon Missionary Images
Austin, Michael,Decker, Mark T.
Peculiar Portrayals : Mormons on the Page, Stage, and Screen
Utah State University Press
"In this essay, I analyze Mormon missionary images in seven films produced over a period of ten years (1997-2007) in different parts of the Anglophone world: the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. I identify the material means by which the Mormon missionary image is produced, circulated, and expropriated and explore the meanings that filmmakers attach to that image. My argument, in brief, is that through metonymy and hybridity, images of Mormon missionaries are made to represent conservative strains of religion generally and Christianity specifically. Filmmakers use these images to reinforce negative judgements about conservative religion. However, the disparity between the meanings that the LDS Church attaches to its Mormon missionaries' image and those that filmmakers create is not always as great as one expects. For example, filmmakers have evidently been persuaded to accept Mormonism as a form of Christianity, consistent with LDS claims and contrary to evangelical polemics. In conclusion, I indicate ways that theoretical frames I adopted for this study--the materiality and globalization of religion--can nuance interpretations of Mormon media images and enrich our understandin of Mormonism as an international religion." [From author's introduction]