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November 22nd, 2008

From the People Who Brought You Proposition 8 [Nov. 22nd, 2008|09:52 am]
Okrzyki, przyjaciel!
'Twilight' seen as a crypto-Mormon morality play

I'm not in the target demo for 'Twilight,' and have not given it any thought, beyond thinking that a teen vampire movie would do well in theatres. This article talks about the book series and the movie and the connection between the author's Mormon faith and the moral universe of her books. She even namechecks Orson Scott Card, the OTHER LDS auther who's gone more or less mainstream.

Interesting how her criticism of the 'Twilight' series parallels my objection to Card's writing. The barely veiled misogyny and careless cruelty of Card gets played out again, this time targeted at young girls. Hurray?

Mormons, of course, eat this shit up. It is their proudest moment when one of their own gets some mainstream credibility without 'forsaking their LDS values.' They definitely see 'art' like Card and Meyer's as promoting the Mormon church, if only subliminally.

As someone with Mormon family, who actually attended BYU despite rejecting the church at 14 (long story), I have my own, perhaps jaundiced, perspective, namely: Nearly all art made by Mormons is shit. Stuff like Card & Meyer's books is marketable shit, but shit nonetheless.

The reason for this is that capital A art requires intellectual and emotional freedom, and a willingness to transgress. You're not required to be a drug-addicted sexual deviant, but you have to at least be able to think about the entirety of human experience without squeezing it through an inflexible moral bench vice.

To the Mormon Church, those attributes are the enemy. There is no 'reform' wing in the LDS Church, there is the 'excommunicated wing' of the LDS Church. In the religion class I cheated my way through at BYU during my year there, one of the church Elders wrote in our curriculum that there was no way to be 'liberal' and a good Mormon. What you say, what you do, which soft drinks you drink, it's all dictated from the top in a strict moral and behavioral hierarchy.

Anyone trying to take their art seriously has two choices: leave, or stay and make sure their art fits well within the bounds of that moral universe. The LDS Church promotes a giant category error with respect to art: Anything that does not depict virtue and promote the church's value is to be abhorred. Depiction is the same as commission.

This is hugely damaging to art, because art needs to be able to disturb. Art succeeds when it finds beauty in the ugly and disturbing. Art fails when it does nothing but attempt to promote virtue. Art fails when all it achieves is 'pretty.'

Do I sound bitter? I am bitter. I spent my most impressionable years in a church whose teachings were emotionally abusive. When I was young, I had nightmares about being cast, as the LDS catchphrase goes, into the outer darkness. The LDS Church is just a cult with staying power. It's Scientology, with funny underwear. And while I read "Ender's Game" when it came out, I refuse to give even a penny to Card ever again. That goes double for Stephanie Meyer.
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