Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mormon Kitsch

Since the beginning of the new year, through various avenues on Facebook, I’ve been exposed to what I suppose I can call Mormon culture on the Internet. 
Haven’t seen any of it yet? 
Truthfully, you’re not missing much. 
I think part of it is that it’s really Utah Mormon culture, not necessarily Mormon culture in a more general sense. Utah Mormon culture is distinct in that there are a spate of minor and major Mormon celebrities, businesses, businesspeople, institutions and such that, at least in my neck of the woods (and I’m not that far off the beaten Mormon path, mind you) are at best maybe somewhat kinda familiar but at worst are damn obscure. 
Take Jessie Funk. Until I became friends with the Middle-Aged Mormon Man and started listening to The Cultural Hall, I’d never heard of Jessie Funk. At all. 
Thanks to Mormon culture on Facebook, this is what I know about her:  
  1. Her website has some funky font-related metadata that somehow is showing up right away, first paragraph.
  2. She once wore a shirt without sleeves in a photoshoot, and everyone either got uber pharisaical or uber progressive about whether or not it was appropriate for this “role model” to appear in such an outfit.
  3. She also likes to “hang out with young humans!” a motto that is going to go as far as Mitt Romney did in convincing people that Mormons are not, indeed, intelligent robots. 
That’s it. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a Jessie Funk song. Maybe I have when the born-again Mormon stuff plays on the local radio station Sunday mornings, but I couldn’t pick her out of a police lineup. I know I’ve never attended one of her motivational seminars. And I’m thrilled as punch to think that her “favorite role in life is that of adored wife and mother to three.” Reminds me that my role as chairman of the MegaHuge Corporation is second only to my calling as a home teacher. 
Note to you rabid Jessie Funk fans out there: Please note I have said nothing derogatory about Jessie Funk, her music, her personality, her looks, her lifestyle, nor that sleeveless dress thing. Okay, maybe I’ve said a little. But I have not said I hate her music or everything she stands for. So don’t go completely ape in the comments. 
I know, as Mormons, that we’re supposed to be in the world, but not of the world. Guess I’m sayin’ I’m pretty happy for the most part to stay out of the Mormon Culture world as well. 
Then there’s the Cultural Hall, a podcast series with a Facebook presence. I’ve listened to two of them. First was on some Mormon mommy-blogger whose name I don’t even remember because the podcast really didn’t have a point at all. I actually got to argue this a bit with one of the podcast’s creators because, snotty soul that I am, I posted the equivalent of Homer Simpson’s Bor-ING! on the post for the podcast. We exchanged a few suggestions, laughed, cried, and became fast friends. Or something like that. 
Then I listened to one featuring Glen Rawson, who also appears by name on our local pop-Mormon culture radio show in the Sunday am. Him, I recognize, because of the over-the-top, maudlin delivery where every little snippet of church history is filled with drama or at least the illusion of that little guy flying around the big top. He was actually much better in the podcast than in his radio series, since he dropped about 99% of the drama. Still, I don’t see going back to the Cultural Hall any time soon. Again, not because it isn’t good or worthwhile or anything, but simply because it’s not my cuppa. 
I’ve had better luck with Mormon cinema, though I confess it’s been years since I’ve seen any new films I enjoyed “The Best Two Years” for its honest portrayal of missionary life and appreciate “The RM” for its humor in looking at post-mission culture and poking fun at Mormon popular culture. And I love it when the MoTab gets all funky. Like this: 
Now I don't mind if other people like this stuff. That's fine. Just not for me.

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