My Beautiful Wickedness

Just thinking aloud
May 11, 2008, 11:32 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have been thinking about the recent uptick of LDS kids doing really well in talent reality shows. There’s Benji, Heidi Groskreutz, Lacey Schwimmer, Allison Holker (Winner and near-winners of So You Think You Can Dance?). There’s Julieanne and Derek Hough and Ashley DelGrosso — super-pros ballroom stars on Dancing with the Stars. (Of course, you can major in ballroom dance at BYU — no shit. About 6000 kids at BYU are involved in their social dancing program and they’ve got a huge enrollment in their technique program as well.) They put on dance festivals all over the place — I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.

Then there’s the LDS singers, like David Archuleta and Brooke White…

I know that there’s a dream of mainstream acceptance through popular performing arts — somthing I’d refer to as the Lemmon/Osmond syndrome — and there’s certainly an emphasis on spending time in self-improving ways. There’s a sense in which the dance floor is an acceptable place for couples to break lose and be sexual in a way that is frowned upon in private settings. And then there’s the relentless public outreach and training kids to be emissaries of the faith from a very early age. I guess I’m just wondering what it is about Mormonism (in contrast to evangelical Christianity) that permits and even encourages kids to embrace secular entertainment forms (like the guy in The Killers, or the kid in Panic at the Disco) without seeing it as a step off the moral cliff.

Of course, it could be as simple as looking at who is broadcasting and where they do their casting. Disney — which owns ABC — has always had a close connection with LDS church. (Walt’s wife was an LDS member, as were a number of his animators.) High School Musical was shot in Salt Lake City, Utah. Dancing with The Stars is shooting in Las Vegas, which is home to the growing cohort of Mormon families.

Just thinking inconclusively. I had a point with this and now it’s frittered away.


4 Comments so far
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Mormons, individually, I can take or leave depending upon their personal qualities. Mormonism, to me, is a spooky, sectretive cult. It’s not as weird as scientology or moonieism, but it’s not that far off, either.

I’ve become much closer to being an atheist the during the last couple of years and am weary of christians of whatever stripe telling me what I need to do in order to be “saved”. If spending eternity with folks like them is salvation give me a one way ticket to

Comment by democommie

…hell. Sorry ’bout that.

Comment by democommie

I have an interesting history with Mormonism. I went to Hiram College, site of one of the big blow-ups in Joseph Smith’s early career — where he got the hots for a 16-year old, had his revelation about polygamy, and was tarred/feathered (and nearly castrated) by her brothers. There were always LDS people around Johnson farm site (which is a near-holy place to the LDS faithful), ready to befriend you at a moment’s notice. Then I moved out to Iowa City and wound up living on the trailhead of the Mormon Trail. Again, tons of LDS people in my life there. Now I live real close to Mormon Central in the Capital District and so all those bored looking brothers in the white shirts and magic underpants are milling around like Paul and Silas trying not to get mugged. I guess I have a high tolerance for squeaky cleanness or something, as they don’t phase me at all.

I have to say I’m of two minds. I like the idea that God is still talking — like maybe there were things that a divinity didn’t think were germane to people of the desert four thousand years ago that maybe he can clue them into now. It makes me feel less a fool for having those one-sided conversations; maybe someday, I’ll hear voices and it won’t mean I’m off my meds. I also admire some of their social practices (strong ethic of community care for fellow believers, for example). However, I find the actual belief system even more implausible than religions in general (to which I maintain a bemused equal opportunity appreciation/skepticism). I also have been alienated by how quickly friendship evaporates once you set J. Smith in the context of other 19th century utopian thinkers and tell them that the archaeological record specifically debunks the “Indians as the Lost Tribe” part of their new revelation. No more parties and chummery for you. They’ve moved on to the next potential convert.

Comment by bridgett


Re: “They’ve moved on to the next potential convert”.

They remind me of Amway sales people–but at least Amway has tangible product.

That “community” thing cuts both ways. They do take care of their own (while, often, ignoring others in need) and they also use that sense of “community” to stifle dissent and complaints.

Comment by democommie

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