Dear Bishop, as is evidenced in the following post I watch way too much TV. All this TV watching is leading me down the path of sin. I need your help.
Bishop, let’s start off with the really bad confessions:
1. I have serious lust in my heart whenever I see Tristan MacManus‘ tongue on Dancing With The Stars
2. Speaking of tongue, William Levy could not even have one and I’d still manage to have lust in my heart when he opens his mouth…but the tongue certainly doesn’t hurt any.
3. I do love me my reality TV, Bishop. But in keeping with my self-righteous Mormon upbringing I am keeping it rather high-brow. I don’t watch anything with the word “housewives” or “Kardashian” in the title. But if it is a race or a talent competition, I’m there.
It doesn’t all have to be sleazy. I adore Guilana and Bill on the Style Network. Yes, Bill is a hottie! (Sorry Bill and Guilana). I’m also having real withdrawals from this big stretch of no So You Think You Can Dance (returns on May 24). Help me to get a life Bishop.
4. My heart is full of jealousy and envy today, Bishop, for the young gay teens out there right now. You see, when I was a young closeted gay boy filled with angst and shame I didn’t have one real or even fictional example of a healthy, gay adult. I didn’t even know a successful gay life was possible without landing me in prison or rehab. Now, they’re all over the TV for the current generation.
Real life celebrities coming out is hardly newsworthy anymore and it certainly doesn’t drastically impact their career in any negative way like it used to even up to the late 90’s. From the coming out of Neal Patrick Harris to Ricky Martin nobody cares anymore. And I believe everyone certainly has Ellen Degeneres to thank for that.
Now many TV Shows feature central gay characters. Cam and Mitch on Modern Family may just be my favorite, with Max on Happy Endings in a close second. But they’re all over reality TV and dramas too (Glee, Shameless, Whitney, GCB, Amazing Race, Survivor…).
The upcoming generation may not feel entirely comfortable in their gay skin but at least they have some characters and celebrities to establish a spectrum of normalcy that just didn’t exist for me as a kids. I mourn not having had that.
5. I know, Bishop, I know…. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s … husband” But if these two ever break up I’m placing my dibs on the non-famous one on the right. I met them both at a party the other night…and O.M.G.
6. Something about an antihero really speaks to me. Give me a Shakespeare’s Falstaff over Snow White any day. Right now, on Nurse Jackie Edie Falco has my heart as she portrays a drug addicted screw-up. She’s a mess and I love her. Or how about any of the characters on Shameless.
I know I’m supposed to strive for goodness and righteousness, Bishop, but I feel like I learn more applicable life lessons from these anti-protagonists. It makes me realize why the Book of Mormon is so dull with its one-dimensional characters.
7. Bishop, In light of confession #4 above I must say that I’m a bit smug and feel like gloating for the fact that I can’t think of one real or fictional TV character that represents Mormons well. I know there have been a handful of Mormons on Reality TV shows, mostly on The Biggest Loser or Survivor. I’m just not sure that that’s the representative demographic the LDS Church is looking for. The Mormon health code alone, The Word of Wisdom, obviously isn’t doing the Biigest Loser contestant any justice; and on Survivor, a contestant run will around in his Aaronic Priesthood underwear lying a little, taking the advantage of one because of his words, and digging a pit for his neighbor (2 Nephi 28:8).
The image that is seeping into the American mind via entertainment is erroneously coming from Big Love, Sister Wives, and Book of Mormon Musical. Yes there are some actors or characters who happen to be Mormon sprinkled throughout Hollywood, but unlike the gay characters I referenced above they tend to try to downplay their Mormonness whereas the gay characters are now allowed to be gay front and center.
As I’ve said many times, successful Mormons in the public eye are in politics (Romney, Reid, Hatch) or business (Marriott, Covey, Neeleman), not in art or entertainment. When they are in art, they do so by somehow compromising their Mormonness (wearing immodest clothing or working on Sunday) or their art (David Archuleta leaving it to go on a mission) or setting one of them aside altogether (Amy Adams, Eliza Dushku, Katherine Heigl).
It’s a little pitiful that after 40 years the Osmonds remain the best example out there of Mormon entertainers who are willing to BE Mormon front and center…and the Mormon church is left having to pay for TV commercials that portray themselves as average, acceptable and interesting neighbors. Most people don’t buy it.
I guess what I’m saying is that if I were a young teen today I still wouldn’t have a Mormon entertainer or TV characterI could look up to and tell myself it’s OK to be Mormon, be proud of it and in the public eye. I’m sorry Bishop, but I find that funny.