19 November 2010

Open Letter to the Deseret News

Dear Deseret News,

You are a delightful newspaper. I enjoy reading your articles. They make me chuckle. They keep me aware on long nights of work that there is, in fact, a world out there. I thank you.

But every once in a while, you do something so delightful that I cannot resist commenting. (Or, rather, I try to comment. But your registration feature has apparently read my mind, anticipated me words, and has kept me from obtaining access to your comment board on several occasions.) This particular day, I would like to thank you for helping to clear out theaters of Utah by taking quotes out of context, perpetuating non-existant scandal, and by continuing to remind would-be ignorant movie-goers of it in more than one article.

I am speaking, of course, of the article claiming large amounts of nudity in the new film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One). By taking a quote (and a scene) out of context, one of your writers managed to incite such fear and disgust as to leave many parents convinced that neither they, nor their children should be allowed to watch such filth. This will, I am assuming, leave plenty of room for us sinful movie watchers to enjoy the film without the cynical, pure aura of the angry part of your readers in theaters over the next few weeks. I thank you for this.



So here's the deal. I work with many students that come from very conservative families. I'm ok with this. I respect that parents have the right to raise their children in the way that they see best. This is a scary world and there are lots of nasty, not so good things out there. It's natural to want to protect your children from garbage. Do I think nudity is necessary in films? Most of the time, no. Particularly in films that are going to be seen by kids. But all of this ridiculous, false Harry Potter advertising (I'm not going to go into great deal about it now, just read the interviews/go see the film) has got me thinking about the arts and the role that they play in my life and the lives of the people around me and I've been frustrated by the hypocrisy that I've seen.

I am more offended by movies (or art, or literature, or music) that are dumb, or fluffy, or cheesy than I am by movies (etc.) that approach the heart and the depths of a human soul. Shutting out or being afraid of evil shuts out and protects you from the light as well. It's an Asian philosophy (if you are going to create good, you are going to create evil) - and a religious one (opposition in all things).

It is, to be perfectly frank, one of the things that eats at me most about the prominent culture in Utah Valley. People here seem more ready to accept fluff and chintz and 'safe' things, and less willing to actively seek after things that are 'virtuous, lovely. . . of good report or praiseworthy.'

I recognize, of course, that everyone has a different standard of what constitutes as virtuous (etc.) But it does make me sad when I see people living more with a feeling of fear for what is bad and less a feeling of joy over searching and finding things that are uplifting. I don't think that the Lord sent us to this earth to have us spending all our time running away from scary things that we don't have any time left to search out the glorious. That's not my job, at least. My job is to recognize that there are not good things out there, and to spend my time looking for those things that are uplifting.

And for goodness sake - this is Harry Potter we're talking about. They know their audience. They've made six more than good films and they're not going to put out something pornographic now. Use your brains. Go see the movie (or talk to people who have at the very least) before you start judging. Not to mention that this is the last (or second to last) of the Harry Potter stories - one of the most powerful and uplifting pieces of fiction I have read. A book about the power of evil - and the greater power of good. Give me a break.


(Plus. . . there is a very cheeky and cynical part of my own head that wonders how many of these people who are scared about the 'filthy' parts of Deathly Hallows are Breaking Dawn readers looking forward to a particularly exciting vampire sex scene next summer. . . *eyeroll* Give me good literature over that garbage any day. . . )


A. Bailey said...

Amen. I agree with you 100%. Especially the part about Twilight. You're awesome. And clever. And smart. Go you.

Me said...

Thanks, Amanda :). I enjoyed your most recent blog post as well - I'm glad to see that things are going well for you. If you're ever out this direction again, let's do lunch. I want to hear all about your teaching successes :)