It's all a matter of perspective when it comes to finding uplifting media in a world with relatively few “made-for-Mormons” books, movies, and TV shows, according to a BYU-Hawaii professor and four students.
“Plenty of media carries moral symbols or messages,” said Dr. Daniel Stout, a professor of communications. “In most cases, popular culture doesn’t deal directly with religion, but instead we’re seeing nowadays popular culture providing religious values or insights in a world where many people may consider themselves religious but unaffiliated.”
Stout said he holds a special place in his heart for media and expresses it through his digizine, “Mormons Into Media.” According to his website, mormonsintomedia.com, the digizine contains “thoughtful reviews of pop culture from an LDS perspective” and is designed “to provoke analysis and enhance the enjoyment of books, movies, TV and popular music,” among other members of the LDS faith.
Some of Stout’s favorite movies include “Citizen Kane,” “Groundhog Day,” and “Ulee’s Gold.”
“‘Citizen Kane’ may be considered one of the greatest films of all time with how artistic and well thought-out it is,” said Stout. “‘Groundhog Day’ conveys a message of progressing through life and being able to be a better person the next day even though you weren’t so good the day before.”
“‘Ulee’s Gold’ may not be considered one of the greats, but certainly carries a profound message about a man who uses his occupation as a constant when dealing with all the issues in his family,” added Stout.
Joseph Herrera, a freshman from Arizona studying international cultural studies, said his favorite spiritually edifying film is “The Impossible,” a 2012 film about a British family in Thailand during the 2004 tsunami. “‘The Impossible’ carries a great message about how life throws you some incredible trials and you have to overcome them. It illustrates the importance of enduring to the end and staying faithful all the time,” said Herrera.
Science fiction novels are no exception when it comes to illustrating gospel truths, said Celest Jacobson, a sophomore from Ohio studying social work. Jacobson cited the science fiction novel “The Giver” as one of her favorite spiritually edifying books.
“‘The Giver’ talks about one person taking upon themselves all the pain and suffering for others, the same role Christ filled on our behalf,” said Jacobson. “It also talks about how living without any pain and misery can’t produce happiness.”
Disney movies can also carry some heavy symbolism, according to Julia Mcconville, a sophomore English major from California. “‘The Lion King’ is my favorite movie and most people don’t think it’s spiritual because it’s really subtle,” said Mcconville, who further explained Mufasa’s death as a representation of the Savior’s Atonement.
“Then pretty much for the whole movie Simba is like us and is lost and doesn’t know who he is, but inside he has always been a king,” added Mcconville. “Later on, his dad says to
him in a vision, ‘Remember who you are,’ which is something the Lord wants us to remember every day. It’s a great message especially in times like today when we’re prone to forget who we are.”
Uploaded May 14, 2016.