Several years ago I read a story in a news magazine about flooding in several western states that resulted from the rapid spring melting of a heavy accumulation of snow. One photo showed thousands of Mormon citizens in Salt Lake City who had been mobilized with only a few hours’ notice through a call from their local church leaders. They were shown filling sandbags that would channel the flow of run-off water. The article marveled at the command-and-control precision – almost military in character – through which the LDS church was able to put its people onto the front lines of this civil crisis. Another photo in an article the next week showed a thirty-something resident of a town along a flooding stream in another state, sitting in a lawn chair reading while national guardsmen filled sandbags nearby. The author of the article attributed what he saw to the “organizational efficiency” of the LDS church, but he completely missed the point. Thousands of people instinctively showed up and went to work because they do this sort of thing all the time, week after week, in over a hundred countries around the world, as part of being Mormon. This was not an unusual event – just another week in the life of a typical Mormon.
Cinema, television, literature, past and present, are all filled with important figures who are morally reprehensible, in some cases criminal. And I write about them. People make bad films, in some cases disgusting or depraved films, and I write about them, with a jaundiced eye, I would hope. Mike Tyson, who was convicted of rape and has a long history of criminal battery outside the ring, had a show on Broadway and remains a fixture on television and in films, and Norman Mailer continued to produce notable work decades after stabbing his wife. They were written about, and very few cases did reviews fail to mention the unsavory aspects of their character. You factor that stuff in when you write. Sometimes you are explicit, sometimes you are subtle, but you factor it in.