State of Utah should end ‘complex relationship’ with Sundance

For past Sutherland commentary on the positive, family-friendly content produced by Sundance, click here. For past Sutherland commentary on questionable content and activities associated with Sundance, click here.

What would you call a film festival airing movies that explore the lives of porn stars, adulterous relationships between mothers and their friends’ children, and teenagers competing to lose their virginity? Many Utahns’ values would lead them to call this “obscenity” or “pornography,” but to the state of Utah, evidently it is simply “economic activity.”

The director of Sundance Film Festival called the theme of these movies “complex sexual relationships” when they were recently announced as part of the Festival’s “Premieres and Documentary Premieres” programs. And admittedly, having an affair with your friend’s son while she simultaneously has an affair with yours is a “complex” relationship – not to mention indecent, immoral, and potentially illegal, depending on the boys’ ages.

Given the amount of sexual promiscuity that Sundance Film Festival regularly brings to Utah, it seems similarly indecent that Utah’s major economic development agencies basically endorsed the event: providing “critical support” to the festival as a “global branding”[1] opportunity, and being listed under the event’s “Corporate Support” banner

The state touts its support of this event because it brings an estimated $80 million in economic activity to the state (roughly 0.064 percent of Utah’s total annual economic activity).

But what message does it send to society, especially children, when we try to teach them that sexual promiscuity is bad, only to turn around and endorse it if it brings in enough money? Utah’s culture and younger generations get enough confusing sexual messages as it is: from predatory businesses that are intent on selling their goods to misguided “progressives” (liberals) who are anxious to pervert normal human impulses for the sake of “finding your sexual identity.” The last thing society and children need is for their government to act in a way that says it is fine to sell your sexual morals for money.

For the sake of public decency and encouraging a free, moral society, the state of Utah should end its “complex relationship” with the Sundance Film Festival. The festival’s organizers can continue to promote their goals without being dependent on taxpayers, and Utah taxpayers do not have to endorse films that are obscene and contrary to their values.

Some things are more important than money.


[1] See page 20 of this report.