Friday, February 25, 2011
It's Mormon in America, Part One in a Series That I Expect Will Get Rather Long
"...and I'm a Mormon" runs the tag line. Well, I'm a Mormon too. A fallen one. But not a bitter one, I'd like to think. Because today I feel bad for my old faith. I feel bad because of how much money its leaders wasted on this poignantly self-defeating multimedia PR blitz featuring a cast of super-funky Mormons chosen to confound your presumably shallow ideas of Mormons. But who succeed in doing the opposite. Who end up cementing your shallow ideas of Mormons (or creating them if you didn't already have them and the ads' makers presumed wrong) by showing just how shallow the Church's idea of super-funky is. Or, rather, the Church's idea of your idea of what super-funky is. In one ad, super-funky is owning a motorcycle and having a teenage daughter with one bleached streak in her dark hair. In the one above it's being black and liking jazz. And rocking your necktie-vest-and-dress-shirt combo with a wrinkly linen scarf that hangs down perfectly straight on both sides of your unbuttoned collar.
Mitt Romney. Precisely. He's the wooden high-income clean-shaven non-Harley riding white patriarch who probably doesn't kick back and listen to "the Bird" or "Miles" much that the ads seem designed to make you not think of -- or not think of reflexively and exclusively -- when you think of Mormons. But he's exactly who you do end up thinking of after watching the ads. You end up thinking of him because the ads finally cause you to wonder: "By whose standards would these pretty unremarkable people with maybe a sparse little soul patch under their bottom lip or wearing an incongruous linen scarf that looks like it was just handed to them by a wardrobe girl possibly seem super-funky?
More on this later...