Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Disgust for chain letters

So, I've come across a pretty popular chain letter among the Latter-Day Saint faithful. I knew it was coming, but I thought by now the folks arcitechting these would have learned a thing or two. Let me debunk this peice by peice, so maybe people will stop forwarding this crap.

I'm asking for your help- for about 3 minutes of your time.

HBO's new series, "Big Love", is about a polygamous family and is set in a Salt Lake City suburb. About the likely impact of this sexually driven show, the New York Times said, "We may never look at Utah and think white bread again."

Parodies of beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints occur- belief in priesthood by a man blessing his hunting rifle, belief in personal revelation from the Holy Ghost by dramatic visions that the polygamous leader discusses casually with a friend. Talk of "celestial kingdom", "free agency", and the "Choose the Right" slogan are included.

I'll concede these points. I haven't researched the show in depth, so I can't speak for the voracity of their claims, but I could see that in the show.

There is a brief disclaimer stating that the polygamists don't have an active connection with the LDS Church. But if the writers don't intend for viewers to make the connection, one wonders why they set the show in Salt Lake City, the Church's world headquarters, and why they included distortions of LDS beliefs.

Ok, that's fine too.

NBC recently cancelled a show about a dysfunctional Episcopal priest who saw a "Jesus", after almost 700,000 people emailed and complained.

Let the spinzone begin. That show was low rated, and controversial. If it were just controversial, NBC could care less about how controversial, they're just in it to make money. Cold hard facts, people. NBC delivers eyeballs, and if there are less of them watching a controversial show catching flack for featuring religion, they'll can it. HBO, however, is a different story.

Couldn't we do the same for this show? If you agree, will you:
- forward this email to at least 8 people
- print this out
- email a polite protest to HBO:

OK, here's where I get even more sketchy about this. Seeing how I've already recieved this from 3 people, I'm starting to say "WHOAAAAA" and I think if people in the LDS church haven't heard about this now, they will soon. Please, stop emailing chainletters along to others when you haven't confirmed the veracity of the statements. Let's keep going:

Go to www.hbo.com, scrol l to bottom of page, click Contact Us, click on The Sopranos (unless Big Love is listed when you do so), scroll to the light blue box near page bottom, on the line just under Submit an Email, click on Contact Us. Then enter your information, specify it's about Big Love, and leave a message asking them to cancel this offensive show.

It's your right to voice your opinion, but if you do, please don't use this text below.

One or two sentences is all it takes. Or feel free to copy or edit
this message:

I am offended that you would produce the series Big Love. It demeans and distorts sacred beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. By setting the show in Salt Lake City, it blurs the line between the Church and the long renounced practice of polygamy..
If you had any idea what horrible things the people who practice polygamy did, (the FLDS people) you would be revolted.

Do you think that by having the producers came to 'visit' the town you understand what life is like for the FLDS or what they do, you are WRONG.... You have no idea of what you are trying to mimic. 14 year old girls are raped, and forced to marry their uncles - 60 year old men, with 5 other wives. They don't teach their children and force the young boys to NOT go to school and to work construction. Because they are in-bred, they have a lot of physically, and mentally retarded children, that they don’t take ‘out’. Because a man can only claim one wife, and each woman has so many children, the ‘unmarried’ wives claim they are single parents and mooch off the welfare, while they drive Brand New Cadillac’s, trucks, and S.U.V.’s. Do not make a show about something that you know nothing about.

Please cancel the show immediately

There are a couple main problems with this letter. One, it feels confrontational. Using words like "I'm offended" and talking about the rape of the children tugs at certain heartstrings that media outlets are trained to dull. I'd probably shift focus away from things that have been explained in many different documentaries. I mean, they've got to know about Warren Jeffs at bare minimum. At least turn on the freaking TV in Utah, where polygamists cause problems for the whole state. May I suggest a better letter for forwarding?

Dear HBO,

I've enjoyed your programming up till now, especially the family friendly HBO Family. Your selection of first run cable movies and original programming is typically top notch. While that may be the case the majority of the time, I'm particularly concerned about the program, "Big Love." Despite the opening disclaimer, the show makes grand allusions to the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ("LDS Church") as practicing poligamy, and does little to quell people's already warped sense of who these people really are. I've been asked on many occasions how many mothers I have, or if I'm going to marry more than one wife. While these assumptions are based on ignorance and typically can have an innocent reply, the show "Big Love" is doing little to educate the public, and causing more misinformation among them.

While I know your concern for entertainment trumps my feeling of being slighted religiously, consider how stereotyping in any other form would draw outrage among other groups. Take Islamic fundamentalists. Typecasting middle-eastern fundamentalists living in Pakistan would send the message that while comedic, a lot of these people are really into suicide bombing and hating westerners, while (one would hope) the majority of Pakistanis are good people, and not interested in suicide bombing. I know the example is not without its holes in logic, but I'm not looking to present an infalliable argument. I know you understand the gist of what I'm saying, and hope you'll feel more respect towards a religion that promotes family values so ferverently.

I know while I am one person, "Big Love" has made me reconsider my subscription to your channels. Unfortunately I'm not a subscriber to HBO. Please reconsider your decision to air "Big Love."



See? The tone of that letter is one of logic and understanding, as opposed to being offended and harping back at "the liberals."

One final note:

Source of info: www.lds.org click on Newsroom for News Media

Please see the church's stance on this topic here.
They also lay out the framework for understanding, and don't promote the show's misrepresentation of Latter-Day Saints.

1 comment:

testmonkey said...

nice write up. I've gotten a bunch of these and they just annoy me for many of the reasons you've pointed out.

What was in Santa Monica, anyway?

BTW -finally got a great RSS reader, so get writing more so I can see the nifty numer in my dock.