Friday, April 20, 2007

164. If You're a Mormon, You'll Love This Post.

Back in the good ol’ day when Miss Nemesis and I worked at the same location, I once had the opportunity to tell her and some of the other yay-hoos I worked with why I boycott Mormon* movies. (Stay with me—this is not a post about Mormonism. . I am a Mormon, though telling people I am Mormon is not the purpose of this blog—It’s important to know only for this post.)

Part of the reason I don’t watch Mormon movies is because they suck. Another part of the reason I don’t watch them is because I find it offensive that someone will tell me I will love a Movie and that I should spend my money on it because I have something in common with the film-maker. Using that logic, one could say, “Because you are human, you will love Beetle Juice—a film made by other humans, and that makes them just like you. And that makes the film a smash hit—especially among humans.” No, it doesn’t. What it means is the film’s marketing efforts have backfired and the film-makers are forced to make ever-increasing claims of the film’s potential greatness so a wider and wider audience may come and see it.

I fall into many demographics, but if you have to resort to ‘faith’ as a marketing demographic; if you’ve exhausted your options for placing me in a demographic like adult male, intelligent movie-goer, childish adult male, chubby guy, bald guy, enlightened idiot etc. and you can’t figure out any other way to reach me demographically than by my faith, that’s where I tune out. I’ve also been approached by friends and acquaintances who tell me I should tap into the Mormon market for my art. I’ve been a stage performer for a number of years, and people sometimes encourage me to tap into the Mormon market. Somehow I have never felt right about selling faith for money. At its root, that’s what would be for me—selling faith for money. What else could it be when I make lesser-quality art (I'm not very good) and sell it to people saying, “This is made strictly for you because you’re of the ‘my faith’ demographic”?

Also, I don’t think I could go into that market and sell faith for money without the money ultimately becoming my faith. In other words, I could never make faith my job, because jobs aren’t typically the kind of things I could feel a deep passion for—not at the same level as faith anyway. And making faith my job would prove to be disastrous for me in that I couldn’t separate the two and faith would ultimately be ‘my paycheck.’ I work for money. I ‘faith’ for personal reasons. I don’t think I could combine the two without ultimately falling prey to money=faith. And I’m not saying others will automatically fall into the trap, I’m just saying I can’t do commercial faith-based art because I will have trouble distinguishing between faith and work. In the end, that’s where the conversation with Miss Nemesis and others went. And at the time, I spoke of a few examples of those who have left the church after years of producing Mormon-focused art.

Anyway, it’s astonishing to me to see how many of the popular Mormon artists leave the church at some point—the latest of whom is Richard Dutcher**, director and actor in God’s Army. Much has been made of late of the situation involving Richard Dutcher and another Mormon film-maker having a little spat about artistic merit and who’s better at making movies. To clarify, much has been made of late in Utah about said film-makers, especially since Mr. Dutcher has recently announced he has left the church for reasons of his own. I’m not here to judge him or tell you why he’s leaving—his reasons are his own and I respect them. I’m just pointing out another of our ‘acclaimed’ Mormon artists is leaving the church, and I don’t get it. I'm not surprised, but I don't get it. I’ve seen it happen a few times and I’m only guessing at the reasons, but it happens more often than I would have suspected years ago.

I don’t know Dutcher's reasons for leaving, I just know he is leaving. What I can’t understand is why someone would be surprised when a prominent Mormon artist leaves the church. . It’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

* Mormon movie-making became popular in Utah a few years ago with the advent of a movie called God’s Army—which was made for non-Mormons about Mormons and the only people who made it profitable (I think it was profitable) were Mormons themselves. God’s Army was pretty well done, but not something I would want to put money down for. Because of the moderate success of God’s Army, a whole slew of increasingly bad films has since popped up, and they’re all horrible. But they’re clean, which makes them (in the minds of some) worthy of spending money on. I am not of that opinion. I am a Mormon, though being Mormon is not a strong enough cause to throw my hard-earned entertainment dollars away for. And I rarely take the opportunity here to state that fact, but I think it’s necessary because this post may not have the broad appeal of my usual posts.

**NOTE: Richard Dutcher is not guilty of marketing based on faith. Not that I know of. I met him in 2001 and asked him face to face what he hopes his audience will be and he said he’s making movies about Mormons for the masses (I paraphrase). That Mormons are the demographic that picked up his movies and put money on them was not his aim—although I don’t think he minded the profits—he was trying to reach a broader audience. I’m okay with that. Dutcher himself states some of my thoughts quite well in his recent article printed in the Provo Daily Herald (the thoughts about Mormon film-making not being worth the dollars people pay for it, NOT the part about leaving the church.) (FYI: I had not read the article until AFTER I wrote this post—so any similarity between my thoughts and Dutcher’s are coincidental.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

163. Was Your Mother a Baker?

‘Cause your belly has the general feel of bread dough. That’s what I’ve observed about babies, anyway. The First Mate feels just like he’s full of yeast and he’s been rising on the counter for about an hour. The difference is the first mate couldn’t make a batch of root beer alcoholic in your grandma’s cellar.

Anyway, I’ve decided the First Mate has reached the general intelligence of your typical canine companion. Which is a pretty good growth curve for an eight-(8)-month-old. That’s not to say he won’t get smarter, because he might, but right now he’s as smart as a dog. And I’m not talking about one of those debutante teenager dogs that accompanies unintelligent, gum-chewing, daddy’s girls, I’m talking police dogs (sans the addiction to crack).

When I get home from work, the First Mate lights up with a big, bright smile and rushes toward me. Okay, so he doesn’t rush toward me because he can’t crawl yet, but you catch my meaning. When he sees me, his neck disappears as he draws his shoulders up to his ears and he kicks his feet wildly. If he had a tail, it would be wagging. (As soon as his hair grows in, he’s going to have a tail, but that’s a different story for a different post.) He even salivates when I ring a little bell. I seriously think he’s smart enough to work with cops one day.

Anyway, the point of all this is to relate the following story as told by My brother Chewy:

My brother Chewy was telling me about one of his children, my nephew, who got an electronics kit for Christmas and has become quite the electronic erudite. My nephew Erudite had been telling my brother Chewy he wants to be an electrical engineer—not too far of a stretch for such a smart kid. My brother Chewy told him if he doesn’t do better at school, he’s going to be an electrician instead (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I mean, if that’s your profession).

That’s when I confessed I’d been telling the First Mate a similar thing: You can be a pro wrestler, or an Olympic wrestler. The difference is college.

Let that be a lesson to you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

162. Why the Long Face, Audrey?

Dear reader(s):

I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while, but I’ve just been too caught up in this jail lifestyle to have much time for anything else*. They only let us outside every day for a couple of hours which they say is for exercise, but they took away the basketballs because of violent basketball beatings. Now all we have for exercise is running around the courts.

The other reason I've not been writing, for those of you I haven’t told yet, is because I’ve been maintaining internet silence until 24 (Twenty-Four) brought down Abu Fayed and revealed that Audrey Raines is still alive. Well last night, Jack Bauer brought Fayed down (lifted him up by the noggin’ actually) and MOMENTS LATER Jack received a call from, who else? Audrey Raines herself.

You see, Audrey has been captured and is currently being beat up regularly by the (fictional)** Chinese Consul. Now we know why she has such a long face—but now the long face is full of scarring and bruises from the brutal (fictional)** Chinese torture.

Anyway, not speaking was my little way of sending a message to the producers of 24 (Twenty-Four) . Message received. Apology accepted.

I have a new job.

**Dear China: please don’t cry to me about your PR problems related to Jack Bauer and Audrey Raines. The producers of 24 (Twenty-Four) are the ones you want to send your censors after.

* I’d like to say I made up the wording of my ‘letter from jail,’ but I can’t because I lifted the words directly from a letter from an inmate to his girlfriend—intercepted by me. MG can verify the veracity of the letter as he has seen the original. Other details of the letter that don’t fit this context include an expression of sorrow to the girlfriend for her brother getting sent to jail for his third (3rd) DUI, and a plea to the girlfriend for her to send him some photos of her AND HER FRIENDS. (Yeah, that kind of pictures.) I swear I’m not making this up. Who could?

P.S. re: my last post: there was no change in policy, the First Mate's video was too adorable, precious, and savory to hold back. You'll notice--no more vid.

Pic courtesy here.