Monday, March 9, 2009

This Week In Mormons In The Media

It just got ugly out there, folks. Another rough week of stuff done to us and stuff we've done to ourselves.

First off, apparently "Big Love" is going to be showing a temple ceremony in an upcoming episode complete with temple clothes and rituals and everything. I would post the link or photos that are out there, but I'd rather not fan the flame. Needless to say, this is extremely hurtful. I'm completely against censorship and all for artistic expression, but I feel this is one of those times where it's really meant to provoke and make us look stupid. Figure this, a group of people gathered in a boardroom somewhere and decided to do this and knew that it would be salacious. They probably thought they would "blow the lid off" something. It isn't journalism and it certainly isn't respect. It's sensationalism. Whatever your feelings about the church, you would have to agree that showing our most sacred rituals is a bit like playing film of your parents having sex on the nightly news. It's inappropriate and it isn't fair. Why do people take such pride in knocking us down?

To their credit, the church has taken a higher high road than I would have ever imagined. In an official statement you can read here, they basically say these things happen all the time and, while we don't like it (not to mention it goes against the agreement HBO made with the church when the show first started), it doesn't seem to do long-lasting damage to the church. We get this stuff thrown at us all the time, and we're still standing. That's an amazing stance because I feel more like starting something on fire or picking a fight.

If you want to write in and complain (or encourage, it's a free country), you can go to this site to make yourself heard. I've always watched "Big Love" and kind of enjoyed it. Sure, the line between the real church and the polygamists is often fuzzy, but I still found most of it fascinating and the actors are excellent. We don't currently have HBO and I'm thinking now I'm going to have to forget about keeping up with the show in the future. Not just because I don't support it, I also don't want to see it.

Good ol' Chuck brought to my attention (via Perez Hilton, of all places) a recent study by Harvard in the Salt Lake Tribune that Utah leads the nation in people who purchase online porn sites per capita. In fact, the study showed that the states with the highest numbers were also among the most conservative and outspoken on issues like same-sex marriage.

You know, I'd like to fight against the stereotype that religious people are really just hypocrites because it never seems fair, but it's information like this that makes it hard to defend us. And, you can't sit back and say it's all the nonmembers that are looking at porn. Clearly, that won't float. To quote Bill Cosby, "Come on people!"

Here's why Utah is in this situation.
1) Obviously, the Law of Chastity constricts all kinds of sexual activity, and that's a good thing. The natural downside of strict rules like that is going to be curiosity and rebellion. It may be natural, but it doesn't make it right. People are finding ways around the Law and, I'm sure, rationalizing it to themselves by saying "I'm not technically cheating, so I'm still ok." Maybe not, but that doesn't mean you aren't a scumbag.

2) No strip clubs in Utah. There may be one or two somewhere, but, for the most part, there isn't a way to blow off that steam. Again, I see this as a good thing. But, again, if you oppress people they'll find alternatives for their desires, especially ones as strong and crippling as sexual ones.

3) We ARE hypocrites! It's so easy to do your pious thing at church on Sunday and then be as demented as you want in total privacy. The privacy factor is a big one. Members love to put up a front, especially in Utah. It's survival of the fittest over there and your standing in church is connected to your standing in the community, the money you make, the clothes you wear, the car you drive, and your Stepford Wife's new boob job. Utah Mormons like to think they're the example of a Zionistic society that can be reached with righteousness and discipline, but what they're really doing is not being honest with themselves about life and the world and their own challenges getting through it. Utah wants to be California so bad they hurt! The article would also have you believe the numbers are skewed because of a large youth population, but are they not responsible for their actions as well?

So, cut it out! If you're one of these people, quit being so selfish! We love to stop gays from getting married, but no one can stop us from some good old porn? If this is you and you're reading this, you're an ass. There's no excuse, especially if you're married with kids.

(Note: When I googled "Big Love" to get a photo, for some reason one of the sites was Thomas Dolby's blog. Yeah, as in "She Blinded Me With Science" Thomas Dolby. Check it out because, apparently, his wife was an actress in the film playing at Temple Square. Crazy.)


C-Pipes said...

Outside looking in I'm wondering what the big deal is your temple service is part of a scripted drama. If I was a stranger reading your blog its not clear to me. In my eyes I'd be wondering what is there to be ashamed of. If that's your practice and ritual then embrace it. I doubt you'd feel mocked if the church took a stance and said this is how we do things... rather than getting upset that Hollywood is exposing it. Maybe I'm missing the boat so I hope someone will participate in the comments section to help me understand.

Rachelle said...

Well, when it comes to an individual's personal spirituality, those things are usually sacred to that person. I do not want sacred things mocked in open society and treated with disrespect. These things are not secret, just sacred and are to be practiced in the appropriate place, not on TV/internet/newspaper, whatever. The problem is not necessarily "exposing" it, but doing so in a way that has no education behind it- it's thrown out there for the world to see and to make their own judgements without the proper information. Of course anyone can find information on anything, anywhere, anytime, but who knows if it's the RIGHT information? That is how false information, gossip and weird stories are spread. However, people are people and we all have the freedom to do what we want- I can't change human behavior. You may ask, 'why not come out with it using the right information and educate the world?' Well, again, a time and place for everything...also the right frame of mind. You just don't post things and share with the world, just because you have the technology to do it.

I have not seen the show and never really had a desire to. A friend recently posted something similar on her blog and how upset she was...I'm all for making your voice heard, but for me....well, I usually handle things very diplomatically don't get upset easily...I know what I believe and how I feel and no one can change that...there's just a right time and place for everything. People are people...respect each other and we would all be a bit more friendly.

And, this is my own little thing, but what's wrong with a "boob job"? If it makes you feel better about yourself because YOU want it, why not? I'm all for women or men for that matter, doing things for themselves that boost their self-esteem, self-confidence, etc. However, I'm definitley not a "stepford wife" and do agree with you on that assessment- just be careful not to generalize the entire UT LDS population as such.

Love your blog!

AnnieB said...

I guess the big deal is that it's so sacred. (not secret.) It's not a public service. It's incredibly delicate and special religious ceremonies that take place in the temple that have so much meaning and depth and of such a vast biblical and spiritual nature that it has to be done in the right context and a show on HBO that already seems to mock us and certainly does not show us in an accurate or favorable light is not the place for it. It's unfair that we even have to address this. We should decide when and where and if ever that takes place. Because, it's ours. It's ours! And why can the media get away with so much in the way of mocking and disrespecting us, that they would never ever do to any other religion! I just don't get it.

AnnieB said...

Also C-Pipes, Please know that it is not that we are ashamed at all! It's just the deeply sacred nature of the temple services that has us on the defense and the overall lack of respect for privacy.

Farrah said...

I may end up getting a boob job when we're done having kids, so I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that per se, but I agree with what I think Jon is getting at, which is that there seems to be a disproportionately large amount of women in Utah who have work done. You would think you're in LA most of the time walking around the Gateway -- bleached blonde hair, Mystic tans, fake nails, fake (and generally grossly oversized) boobs, super expensive designer jeans, high end SUV's to carpool the kids around in, etc., etc. It's over the top and it seems odd that it would be that way in a highly religious city/community that's supposedly all about focusing on family and church not materialism and narcissism. There seems to be a pretty bad case of trying to keep up with Mr. Jones' wife happening there.

Through the Looking Glass said...

Boob jobs! Television scandal! Porn! Man, I need to visit your site more, Jon. I agree completely about the temple, but I have to energy in me to get as steamed up as others have. I think that people of other religions would find a very understandable comparison if they thought of other religions that have sacred rituals which are private or reserved for certain members of that religion: Judaism, Islam, and probably even parts of Catholicism as well. Like Jews and Muslims, we wear what we consider sacred clothing and have sacred rituals, but I personally feel the difference as that Mormons are an easy target for "Look at these loons and the crazy things they do" because we are a) a more modern religion and b) we have been involved in less than popular stances on many issues.

The porn? So glad you think watchers of it are asses because I think you'd be hard-pressed to find many women that disagree with you. Yes, we live within more confines than others (though can I again point out that most mainstream religions are against viewing pornography as well?) and all that frustration probably leaks out somewhere. I don't think it speaks as much to us being hypocrites, however, because I think it's just a manifestation of all the other areas Mormons aren't participating in as much. Fewer Mormons are alcoholics, drug users, or are having sex with multiple partners and I think that leaves few areas for the sexual frustration/perversion/fascination to go. Who knows? I think porn's nasty and does more damage to relationships than almost any of the above, anyway.

And boob jobs? Careful, that's sacred ground. I will say this: Of course we have more boob jobs and cosmetic nip-tucks; we birth more people per capita than anyone else and crave bodies that match our biological age. Also, I have a small theory that since we can't express our sexiness in many ways through clothing (when one wears garments), girlfriend likes to knock someone's socks off when she's nekked! Just a thought.

Rachelle said...

Through the Looking said it girl! It's not a small theory at all! G's are not sexy and lingerie just ends up on the floor...the body has to stand up to the tests of time...thank goodness for science and medicine! (I hope to make my own appt down the road!)

Rachelle said...

Farrah, I get what you're saying...I was just out in Lehi visiting old college roomies over New Year's- it had been about 7 or 8 years since I last visited and I was shocked at how materialistic many people were- how everyone compares themselves to each other. I would have a very hard time living there (would love to be near some very good friends!) but I would feel so claustrophobic and would have no idea who was being fake with me and who wasn't. East Coast is so different- at least, that's how I see it anyway....I've mostly lived in the "mission field" in many areas of the country and UT is a different land for sure. There are some great people too, don't get me wrong about that! Like I said, I have dear friends and family there!

AnnieB said...

Can I just say that I love every comment and every remark "Through the Looking Glass" ever says? She's always dead-on and refreshing. Ditto. I hope you'll still love your sis when she gets her boobs done some day. (Oh, and tummy tuck too!) The twins did a number on me and I deserve it!

Ryan said...

Well, Jon, you know how to incite a dialogue :)

On the Big Love front, seems you can go ahead and let go of HBO for good and just get your fix on NBC; SNL's sendup last Saturday was pretty good (the opening sequence had me hooked). As an inside-now-outside looker, I empathize with church members who dislike having their beliefs mocked. I recall being none-too-pleased with "Plan 10 from Outer Space" and having to explain to a friend who wasn't a member of the church why I cared so much. On the other hand, making public is not inherently mockery, and yet I hear "sacred not secret" attached to this topic about as frequently as "I didn't come hear to make friends" gets uttered on "reality" TV. Let's be honest. Members of the LDS church would prefer that the temple ceremony be kept secret, regardless of how accurately/sensitively it was portrayed.

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