Skip to comments.Mormon Media Observer: Beyond the HBO moment
Posted on 07/04/2009 10:43:06 AM PDT by Colofornian
If Mormons HBO moment was not bad enough, it seems that Hollywood, Broadway and the publishing world aren't likely to give up on portrayals of Latter-day Saints on screen, on stage and in books any time soon.
Such Mormon portrayals, often stereotypical, have been showing up since the 1800s. For example, When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced detective Sherlock Holmes in the story, A Study in Scarlet. It was set against the backdrop of anti-Mormon inaccuracies about Latter-day Saints and their beliefs popular in England at the time. On a later visit to Utah he apologized for the inaccuracies.
Here are some more contemporary examples of portrayals of Mormons:
In a new Woody Allen film, Whatever Works, actor Ed Begley Jr. thinks that his daughter has been abducted by "polygamous Mormons." The movie takes an especially dim view of organized religion and anything associated with the National Rifle Association, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
South Park creators continue work on a play unofficially titled the Mormon Musical. Variety reports Tony-winning writer Robert Lopez is working with Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Openly gay Broadway star Cheyenne Jackson has already been cast as a missionary and the show is slated for an Off Broadway opening later this year, according to Variety magazine and the Melbourne Age newspaper. I am sure all of us Mormons cant wait for this one.
In February, a play titled Funeral Potatoes premiered in Washington focusing on the subtleties of a Mormon family. The D.C. Theater Scene Web site said this of the play: Riffing on and off the subtitle-A Good Wife Always Knows Her Place, the play centers on a young woman struggling with her familys request that she speak at her grandfathers funeral. In searching for the words and trying to find her voice for this duty, Megan reveals glimpses of her immediate families expectations, historical legacy, and rebellious and zany outtakes in this delicious collision of life smashing with conservative family values.
Translation: Many Latter-day Saints might find the content offensive.
Best-selling novelist David Ebershoff s book The 19th Wife has gotten some acclaim (and has hit the shelves at Costco.) "The 19th Wife" forms a dual plot between Brigham Youngs 19th wife, Ann Eliza Young, and a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his fathers death, according to the authors Web site. Whats troubling about the trailer is that Ebershoff said he went looking for understanding about Ann Eliza Youngs experience in polygamist enclaves in Southern Utah.
Facing East by Carol Lynn Pearson, which first premiered in Salt Lake City, has gotten noticed on the West coast. A Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote:
Utah has the country's highest suicide rate for males between the ages of 14 and 25. That grim statistic is given a name and a troubled family in Carol Lynn Pearson's impassioned Facing East, now at the International City Theatre in Long Beach. This 80-minute agit-prop takes place at the fresh grave of Andy McCormick, the 24-year-old gay son of upstanding Mormons Ruth (Terry Davis) and Alex McCormick (Christian Lebano). A polite memorial service has just concluded -- during which no one mentioned that the deceased took his own life with a gun. Alex, devastated by the ceremony's hypocrisy, decides to hold a second funeral right there in the cemetery. (Stephen Gifford's stark unit set features an open grave, several tombstones and four piles of salt.) This time, he tells his resistant wife, they'll speak the truth. Of course, that honesty will implicate everyone in the family. And there'll be a surprise guest: Andy's partner, Marcus (Daniel Kash).
In a new book Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga, the writer sets his story in an India town where The Jain basadi (shrine) on the outskirts of town has been purchased by Mormon evangelists from Utah, according to a Australian newspaper.
The Mormon Media Observer is collecting readers favorite (or not so favorite) portrayals of Mormons on stage, in film and in books. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to an article Sherlock Holmes and the Mormons: The most famous anti-Mormon group, the Utah Light House Ministry, felt that Doyle's A Study in Scarlet was enough of a condemnation of Mormonism that they included the full text of the story on their web site. Sherlock Holmes' First Case Against the Mormons A Study in Scarlet takes the reader back to an event relevant to the mystery that Holmes must solve that occurred 20 to 30 years before the events in the story unfolded. Sherlock Holmes never does get to meet any actual Mormons and the person who hires him in A Study in Scarlet left the church. The depiction, however, is a somewhat accurate but fictionalized account of the Mormon church under the leadership of Brigham Young.
So, this article says it's a "somewhat accurate but fictionalized account...under Brigham Young" -- but Campbell says it's anti-Mormon inaccuracies".
Well, as mentioned, Utah Lighthouse has the book online A Study in Scarlet Here are two excerpts:
Part 2, Chapter 1 : "We are of those who believe in those sacred writings, drawn in Egyptian letters on plates of beaten gold, which were handed unto the holy Joseph Smith at Palmyra. We have come from Nauvoo, in the state of Illinois, where we had founded our temple. We have come to seek a refuge from the violent man and from the godless, even though it be the heart of the desert."
Part 2, Chapter 3 : The supply of adult women was running short, and polygamy without a female population on which to draw was a barren doctrine indeed. Strange rumours began to be bandied aboutrumours of murdered immigrants and rifled camps in regions where Indians had never been seen. Fresh women appeared in the harems of the Elderswomen who pined and wept, and bore upon their faces the traces of an unextinguishable horror. Belated wanderers upon the mountains spoke of gangs of armed men, masked, stealthy, and noiseless, who flitted by them in the darkness. These tales and rumours took substance and shape, and were corroborated and recorroborated, until they resolved themselves into a definite name. To this day, in the lonely ranches of the West, the name of the Danite Band, or the Avenging Angels, is a sinister and an ill-omened one. Fuller knowledge of the organization which produced such terrible results served to increase rather than to lessen the horror which it inspired in the minds of men. None knew who belonged to this ruthless society. The names of the participators in the deeds of blood and violence done under the name of religion were kept profoundly secret. The very friend to whom you communicated your misgivings as to the Prophet and his mission might be one of those who would come forth at night with fire and sword to exact a terrible reparation.
And also from later in this chapter: "Where are your wives?" asked [Brigham] Young, looking round him. "Call them in, that I may greet them."
"It is true that I have not married," Ferrier answered. "But women were few, and there were many who had better claims than I. I was not a lonely man: I had my daughter to attend to my wants."
"It is of that daughter that I would speak to you," said the leader of the Mormons. "She has grown to be the flower of Utah, and has found favour in the eyes of many who are high in the land."
John Ferrier groaned internally.
"There are stories of her which I would fain disbelievestories that she is sealed to some Gentile. This must be the gossip of idle tongues. What is the thirteenth rule in the code of the sainted Joseph Smith? 'Let every maiden of the true faith marry one of the elect; for if she wed a Gentile, she commits a grievous sin.' This being so, it is impossible that you, who profess the holy creed, should suffer your daughter to violate it."
John Ferrier made no answer, but he played nervously with his riding-whip.
"Upon this one point your whole faith shall be testedso it has been decided in the Sacred Council of Four. The girl is young, and we would not have her wed gray hairs, neither would we deprive her of all choice. We Elders have many heifers, but our children must also be provided. Stangerson has a son, and Drebber has a son, and either of them would gladly welcome your daughter to his house. Let her choose between them. They are young and rich, and of the true faith. What say you to that?"
Ferrier remained silent for some little time with his brows knitted.
"You will give us time," he said at last. "My daughter is very youngshe is scarce of an age to marry."
"She shall have a month to choose," said Young, rising from his seat. "At the end of that time she shall give her answer."
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle HAD to have had acess to a copy of the “Journal of Discourses”! Sounds like he copied parts of it verbatim.
Yes. The Journal of Discourses was produced in the Lds church printing office in Liverpool, England. Liverpool was also the main 19th century port...anybody traveling through there to go abroad could have easily availed themselves of the JoD.
Mere typical MORMONism technique: ACCUSE and then supply NO evidence.
This gets your case thrown out of court every time!
I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.
17 It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the otherThis is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
18 My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)and which I should join.
19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.
20 He again forbade me to join with any of them; and many other things did he say unto me, which I cannot write at this time. When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, Never mind, all is wellI am well enough off. I then said to my mother,
"Just what did Joseph Smith 'learn' to be UNTRUE about PRESBYTERIANISM?"
Which way do you want it??
Well, in this columnist's case, blood atonement is kind of a current unmentionable -- well, at least bringing it up -- in a Mormon paper.