3.16.2009

The Big Love Brouhaha

So, I guess I just can't help myself. I stopped blogging for a while during the end of the election cycle, in addition to the most recent Utah legislative session, because in both cases, and to one degree or another, things don't change, haven't changed, etc.

But this one makes me cringe.

Last night HBO aired the much-ballyhooed and berated episode of Big Love, wherein a character was portrayed participating in a Mormon temple ceremony. Mormons across the nation sounded the "no fair" cry, and HBO apologized for the ruckus. Then aired the episode. In a statement, the LDS Church tacitly endorsed a boycott of AOL and HBO, both Time Warner properties.

Now that it has aired (and I didn't see it, because I don't particularly care to subscribe to HBO), people have their shorts in a twist. When the scene was publicized a week or so ago, the immediate response was, "well, Tom Hanks obviously has an axe to grind." Which I'm sure is true. Hanks has gone on record before with regard to the California constitutional amendment being passed with the support and help of the 800-pound-gorilla LDS Church taking the forefront on the effort in both money-raising and feet-on-the-ground phone banking, etc.

I'm not going to get into the ethics or opinion of whether what the church did was right or wrong. Because it no longer matters in this context. And besides, most who know me, know where I fall on that argument.

However, I think that if The Church can't stand the heat, they shouldn't have stoked the fire. They leveraged the voice to which they had access, namely the ability to mobilize thousands of individuals, both in-state and out, and to raise tons of cash for the effort to defeat Prop 8. Hanks has turned the table, and done exactly the same thing: leveraged the voice to which he has access.

Hanks, who is an executive producer for HBO's controversial series Big Love about a group of polygamist Mormons, spoke out about the religious group's involvement in passing the California law, which bans same-sex marriage.
"The truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen," Hanks told Foxnews.com at the show's premiere in Los Angeles last Wednesday. "There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them."

A spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Kim Farah, took offense at Hanks's comments, telling FOX News, "Expressing an opinion in a free and democratic society is as American as it gets."

Now, in a exclusive statement to PEOPLE through his representative Leslee Dart, Hanks is softening his stance.

Last week, I labeled members of the Mormon church who supported California's Proposition 8 as "un-American." I believe Proposition 8 is counter to the promise of our Constitution; it is codified discrimination. But everyone has a right to vote their conscience – nothing could be more American. To say members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who contributed to Proposition 8 are "un-American" creates more division when the time calls for respectful disagreement. No one should use "un- American" lightly or in haste. I did. I should not have.
Sincerely,
Tom Hanks.
(attribution) Emphasis mine.

Bottom line for me in this whole melee is this: If The Church can use all its means in an effort, whatever that effort might be, and in the process, offend and disenfranchise a group of people, then Tom Hanks also has every right to use all HIS means to state his dissatisfaction. And The Church has no expectation that it won't endure some heat for taking their position. In whatever form it comes. If you wade into the water, you could get bitten by the crocodile. End of story. I await your cranky emails. :)

7 comments:

Loralee Choate said...

I hated prop 8. It ripped my family apart and sickened me on so many levels. Big Love is not nearly on that level but I can't pretend I care for it, either.

A lot of this is due to the avalanche of emails I got from both sides, I will admit. Mainly, though? I have always and will always cringe at media that exploits or sensationalizes religious beliefs of others, whatever they may be. Especially if it is a particular aspect of that religon that is held especially sacred or is generally misunderstood. (This goes for Mormons, Jews, Catholics, Islam, Muslims, The Amish...EVERYONE)

It just seems really disrespectful whether I agree or disagree with the particular practice or not.

I know that it's a futile view to have and I am not always perfect in its execution, but it's just how I feel.

Jack Mormon Stu said...

Nothing new, and every person's right to expose what one group considers to be sacred. But as a matter of respect... I had thought better of Hanks and company. He can rip on the church all he wants, and he could still have my respect. Exposing our most sacred rites so publicly like that? That's just going overboard.

But contrary to popular belief, there is no Danite Death Squad and Hanks is safe. He's more likely to have a cake baked for him. Be a little different if he did the same to Islam or Judaism.

Loralee Choate said...

P.S. I also cringe at the way atheists can be portrayed. I consider that on the same level as the others.

Stuff like that is very personal and I really wish media, film and tv would stay out of it. (Again, totally unrealistic, I know)

That One Guy said...

I certainly will not disagree that this was a personalized and insensitive act. I guess my overall point is to wonder what the church really expected. It seems unrealistic to play the "no-fair" card. Just sayin'.

Comments received and respected.

Becky..AMHW said...

The rhetoric about this coming out of my Utah County friend's mouths has just made me angry. The gay agenda! The gay agenda! They want to stomp on my religious freedoms!

Bull...well...shit. They can't get past that to see how incompassionate and just plain against their tenets their actions in Prop 8 were.

I watched that Big Love. I love Big Love. The ceremony did have context and was treated well. I admit I was a bit shocked having been told all my life that this was sacred but then the next question I had was "why?"

If it's sacred truth then that truth can stand up to a little scrutiny. Personalized and insensitive maybe but where are we when what we believe isn't held up to challenge? This is an opportunity to act with grace or just act disgraceful.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Ach. I wish I saw the episode. I want to comment, but feel I don't know enough details.

What I do know is that Mormon's don’t like to be discriminated against, so why do they feel it's okay to rally together in support of a completely discriminatory proposition?

I bet 10 to 1 Jesus would have voted against Prop 8.

I really wish all the Christian sects out there could be, well, more Christian, you know?

beth

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