Friday, May 23, 2008
Mormons are Ready Made for Reality TV
With the recent news of the newest American Idol, there have been some pretty great articles about the decision. Obviously, a huge topic here in Utah, I heard that several people were disappointed with the fact that David Cook won over cute, little, innocent David Archuleta.
I, personally only having watched one episode of American Idol, thought that David Cook went in already thinking he was a winner. He played the part well. I didn't see too much of the show though to really make a judgment on who I thought has a better voice! David Archuleta was so darn cute (in the one I saw at least) and so grateful.
Anyway, this article ran in the Salt Lake Tribune today and just thought I would share it!
Kirby: Mormons are ready-made for reality TV
By Robert Kirby
Salt Lake Tribune
Another Mormon bites the dust. After a brief and heady run at fame, "American Idol" candidate David Archuleta got his walking papers from the voting public.
Brother Archuleta joins the ranks of other LDS reality TV almost-weres, including "Dancing with the Stars'" Marie Osmond, MTV's "That's Amore's" Kathleen Flager, and presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Still, Archuleta is proof that Mormon reality screen performance is improving. Ten years ago, our claim to reality TV fame was a Mormon couple performing a human bagpipe trick on "David Letterman."
I didn't see this one myself, but apparently a woman from Murray put a balloon in her mouth and her husband inflated it by blowing through her nose.
You don't get public performing talent (or even a lack of shame) like this without years of training. From an early age, Mormon kids are encouraged to be something other than just another member of the congregation.
For this reason, stage fright is not a common LDS ailment. By the time we hit puberty, Mormon kids are used to praying and testifying from the pulpit. Many, like Archuleta, perform music during church services.
The rest will have appeared in a countless number of singing programs, skits and talent shows. Even untalented kids like me managed to entertain, typically by being dragged from these meetings by a leg.
When I was a kid, there were ward road shows: amateur theatrical productions that involved the entire ward and provided an outlet for all that performance energy. Quality ranged from pretty good to lynch-mob awful.
I was Farmer No. 3 in our ward's production of "The Wizard of Odds," a spoof on a young girl carried off by a whirlwind to Brigham Young University where she had all kinds of strange but faith-promoting experiences. My costume was a leaf rake I brought from home.
We practiced the songs for weeks and almost made the bishop's wife go inactive. She worked and prayed and once even broke down and cried, but we still sounded like a pack of loosely focused coyotes.
The show ran for two nights. It would have gone three but the girl playing Dorothy got mono and the only other girl who could sing above a misdemeanor couldn't fit into the costume.
Road shows are mostly a thing of the past now. LDS ward houses built today don't even have stages. They still get basketball courts, though.
Maybe there's a connection. Despite our commitment to basketball, you don't see many Mormons in the NBA.
And even though an increasing number of Mormons are showing up on reality TV these days, not all of them are to our credit. Church leaders might want to think about bringing back the ward road show as a safety valve.