Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Big Love

I've never seen the HBO series, "Big Love." When it came out, I was not particularly interested in viewing it mainly because I felt it would probably feed on stereotypes and misperceptions, no matter how well intentioned its actors, producers, and writers may have been. Having never seen an episode, I can't judge at all whether I would like the show or not.

Recently, on last Sunday's episode of the show, parts of a temple endowment ceremony, which is considered very sacred by members of my faith, were shown. The producers and writers felt that what was written and shown were integral to the particular plot points in that particular episode and apparently took great care to treat the ceremony in what they believed to be a sensitive and caring manner. They also apparently consulted with an ex-Mormon who had attended the temple so that they would be able to get details such as costume, set, and writing correct.

I have seen clips on YouTube of both the temple ceremony scene and also a scene depicting a church disciplinary court. Needless to say, it was extremely disturbing to see sacred things depicted by people who have no real concept what they're really about. I do not dispute that the makers of "Big Love" took great care to do their best to depict these things as sensitively as is within their understanding, but the bottom line is that these ordinances and procedures (as is the case with the church court scene) cannot truly be understood or appreciated by someone who doesn't fully understand their meaning, and to put them out there for an audience to judge without context is irresponsible, in my opinion.

And I don't know who their consultant was, but for that person to do what they did is very sad to me.

I will not comment on the accuracy or inaccuracy of anything I saw in these two clips. I just want to say that it disappoints me that the makers of "Big Love" (no matter how sensitive or accurate they feel they are being) would show things that are held so sacredly by so many.

It made me think about movies or TV shows I've seen depicting practices by other religions, and how I don't even think twice about it. But when you see your own religion represented in a way that can be easily misunderstood by those who don't have the knowledge, experience, or context to appreciate or understand what they are seeing, it is mighty disturbing. It is uncomfortable.

You know, Jonah on occasion has asked me about what goes on in the temple. I have never revealed anything I feel uncomfortable revealing, but what I have told him is that if a non-member were to witness a temple ceremony, it wouldn't have the same meaning to them as it does to a member. In fact, it probably wouldn't mean much to them at all. They wouldn't have the proper context to appreciate it. Heck, even as a member, I'm not sure I even understand the full meaning of temple ceremonies, so I certainly wouldn't expect someone who is not a member of the LDS Church to understand. It really is a case of "throwing pearls before swine" (and please do not infer that I am calling non-members "swine"; that is not what I mean at all). What I mean is that it's like putting a technical schematic in front of a two year old and expecting him to understand or benefit from it. Maybe many years down the road that two year old would grow up to be a computer expert who could appreciate and correctly analyze the schematic, but at two years old, he simply does not have the capability, experience, knowledge, or know-how to deal with it in a useful manner.

With a temple ceremony, the sacred and spiritual things therein cannot be understood by a non-Mormon the way a Mormon will understand them. They may find it interesting or curious, just as a two year old might find the color of the paper the schematic is designed on or the drawings themselves briefly interesting, but the far deeper meaning of it simply cannot be appreciated by someone who doesn't "get" it.

Anyway, it's disturbing to see things put out there for all to see in a way that, frankly, feels sacrilegious no matter what care and sensitivity was taken to create it.

I don't even go to the temple anymore, and I'll probably be excommunicated myself in the near future, but I still know in my heart how sacred the temple and its ordinances are, and it makes me sad that other people don't.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.


Frank Lee Scarlet said...

I believe that the consultant for HBO was Dustin Lance Black, also a gay (ex-)Mormon (who, as I'm sure you know, won Best Screenplay for Milk at the Oscars). To my knowledge he is the only writer for Big Love with an LDS background.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Could be.

Yes, I am acquainted with Mr. Black's Oscar win.

Lisa said...

I did attend Utah State. Forever an Aggie, even though I moved away from Utah years ago.

And yes Dustin Lance Black is writer and contributor to Big Love. I am an avid fan!

I am SO glad I found your blog!! You seem like a wonderful person I could learn alot from.

Gay LDS Actor said...

When did you graduate, Lisa?

I'm glad you found my blog, too. Thanks you for your kind words.

Rachel Wagner. said...

I agree the Big Love episode made me think of other religious ceremonies portrayed in film and tv that I have previously rationalized. The Divinci Code Came to mind. I was a fan of the show but this season they have been getting more sensational in an attempt to boost ratings and the temple episode was their final push. Pretty sad.

adorned with life said...

You are a doll, GLA. :-)


Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Natasha.