13 February 2013

The Mormon Moment: Because Conflict Sells

The Mormon Moment: Because Conflict Sells

Some articles have been unfair in recently published articles labeled, "The Mormon Moment." Shouldn't we be fairly calling it in its plurality, "The Mormon Moments?" The Mormon Moment wasn't brought, "forth out of obscurity and out of darkness" (D&C 1:30) the moment Romney campaigned for U.S. President. The Mormon Moment (MM) began long ago with the theological doctrines taught by Joseph Smith. But since the term "MM" connotes the secular instead of the spiritual I will comment on the first. MM's began chronologically by the following: 

·         Senator Smoot (1903)
·         Ezra Taft Benson (1953)
·         The Osmonds (1958)
·         Harry Reid (1987)
·         The Utah Olympics (2002)
·         South Park "All About Mormons" (2003)
·         Prop 8 (2006)
·         Big Love (2006)
·         Jon Huntsman (2008)
·         Mitt Romney (2008-2012)
·         The Book of Mormon Musical (2011)

South Park 
Looking at this "timeline" may help us understand when the Mormons went from being described as frightening and irrational to dumb-silly irrational. In my opinion the specific three prong bundle of South Park, Prop 8 and Big Love all contributed to the forest fire of both persecution and light hearted curiosity. These three clustered together humorously mock, curiously pry, and imaginatively  create exaggerated and "ludicrous innocence."[i] This teapot simmered under the heat of television, radio, newspapers and magazines until the teapot exploded by Romney's announcement, campaigning for the President of the United States.

Peggy Fletcher-Stack
Salt Lake Tribune journalist Peggy Fletcher-Stack told UVU students that since Romney announced his run for American President her queried Google Alerts for "Mitt Romney" and "Mormons" sky rocketed to heights never before seen previous. The mass media spotlight on Mormons both magnified the fictitious and distorted reality. Author Matthew Bowman of "The Mormon People," said in his article that Mormon (especially with the advent of the 2011 Book of Mormon Musical) "beliefs are patently ridiculous, amplified, and exaggerated...[emphasizing] Mormons’ apparent utter detachment from reason and rationality. These Mormons are a
national entertainment, an amusing foil to a satisfied modern and secular society; they seem hardly capable of keeping their own church running, let alone staking any ambitions upon the nation."[ii]

Big Love
Phone calls from all over the world were calling Peggy Fletcher-Stack about certain doctrines of the LDS church such as baptisms for the dead, polygamy, blacks and the priesthood and so on. She was able (with the allotted time of 15-20 minutes) to quickly disclose an account to their biased and contentious needs to make a sale. Peggy never said this but I could sense in her tone that she felt it was unethical to crunch a 183 years of history into 15 to 20 minutes. This is a little frustrating for Mormons to hear because we learn that not only is the media getting stale crumbs of information in the unjust allotted time of minutes (some call this Wham, Bam, Thank You Mam') but their inquiries of doctrines are purely and purposefully biased to display contention. The media supports contention and conflict because contention and conflict sell. This is the great truth of media marketing. "We love conflicts," says Dr. Scott a UVU Mormon Culture Professor. "We love secrets, money, power and politics." We can see this when Romney gave his concessional speech. There was according to Peggy Fletcher-Stack, a massive decline in her Google Alert e-mail queries. Nobody really cared anymore about the Mormons because the media decided that there wasn't any more conflict or contention, "The Mormon Moment is over," Peggy said. "We have been overshadowed by other stories since Mitt gave his concession speech...The media has a short attention span."

As people look back on the Mitt Romney Mormon Moment we discover the real faces of once highly respected leaders as now intolerant and ignorant. Examples are included in the LDS Newsroom article from March 9, 2009 titled, "The Publicity Dilemma:"

"During the Mitt Romney election campaign for the presidency of the United States, commentator Lawrence O’Donnell hurled abuse at the Church in a television moment that became known among many Church members as 'the O’Donnell rant.' Today, his statements are remembered only as a testament to intolerance and ignorance. They had no effect on the Church that can be measured.
When the comedy writers for South Park produced a gross portrayal of Church history, individual Church members no doubt felt uncomfortable. But once again it inflicted no perceptible or lasting damage to a church that is growing by at least a quarter of a million new members every year.
When an independent film company produced a grossly distorted version of the Mountain Meadows Massacre two years ago, the Church ignored it. Perhaps partly as a result of that refusal to engender the controversy that the producers hoped for, the movie flopped at the box office and lost millions.
In recent months, some gay activists have barraged the media with accusations about “hateful” attitudes of Latter-day Saints in supporting Proposition 8 in California, which maintained the traditional definition of marriage. They even organized a protest march around the Salt Lake Temple. Again, the Church has refused to be goaded into a Mormons versus gays battle and has simply stated its position in tones that are reasonable and respectful. Meanwhile, missionary work and Church members in California remain as robust and vibrant as ever, and support for the Church has come from many unexpected quarters — including some former critics and other churches."

[i] What The Book of Mormon and Angels in America Get Wrong About Mormonism; By Matthew Bowman | Posted Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, at 9:28 AM ET[ii] What The Book of Mormon and Angels in America Get Wrong About Mormonism By Matthew Bowman | Posted Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, at 9:28 AM ET


BYU Carpet Cleaner

I carpet clean the Mission Training Center and love the gospel of Jesus Christ. These posts contain my experiences, thoughts and opinions on spiritual things.

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