Monday, May 26, 2008

Meet Local LDS Singles!

(Apologies in advance to all my Mormon friend.)

Watched, in its entirety, The Singles Ward via NetFlix over the weekend. A comedy made by and for the Mormon community, about a hip young LDS man facing the singles scene in the aftermath of a divorce.

Movies made for niche markets have been around for a while. They feed the specific needs for their communities although few are successful enough to truly "cross-over" to the mainstream.

"The Singles Ward" is no exception. It is packed to the rafters with *inside* jokes, including references to other (??) Mormon movies.

What's "funny" about it is that it simultaneously tries to speak to us curious non-Mormons who might be watching. Offering up an idyllic world where fresh young Mormons cohabit non-judgmentally with their wacky, tattooed/pierced non-Mormon buddies. A black Mormon sits in on a few scenes, as if to prove they exist. (Though we never see him courting any Mormon women, like his lily-white peers.)


The story concerns a young man who suffers a crisis of faith when his wife leaves both him and the church. (Sounds... familiar...) He stops going to church, starts up a career as the worst stand-up comedian ever.

He ends up falling for this Mormon girl he meets at an LDS singles party that his friends drag him to. She's a good Mormon girl. He's the bad boy who doesn't completely conform. She gets her proverbial panties in a bunch when she catches his comedy act and hears him tell a few lame jokes that are faintly at the expense of Mormons. He's got one intriguing monologue where he argues with her that he strayed from the church BECAUSE the community was so uptight...

... but ultimately, he decides to give up stand-up comedy in order to get with this girl. It ends with him literally looking into the camera and saying, "I'm glad I made the right decision." (Unspoken: "To abandon my dreams in favor of conformity.") It is a horror movie ending.

Oh, and Steve Young makes an unfunny cameo.

[!!! END SPOILERS !!!]

The movie is not as dreadful as some Asian-American films I've seen over the years. (You know who you fucking are; don't make me link.) On a technical level, everything works well enough. It's lit cleanly, edited well enough, moves at a watchable pace. On an artistic level, it kinda feels like watching someone else's home movie. Like if you knew these people, you might enjoy this.

I was messing around with the extras on the DVD and came across a "Truth or Dare" party game. At this submenu, you can click on either "Truth" or "Dare" and be treated to randomly generated *prompts* that you and your LDS buddies can have fun with.

LDS Truth or Dare

Prompts you can get when you click "Truth":

"How old were you the last time you went trick-or-treating?"

"How many kids do you want?"

"What was the worst grade on your last report card?"

"What animal does the person to your right most resemble?"

Prompts you can get when you click "Dare":

"Get a neighbor to do the Hoki-Poki with you."

"Sing your favorite song from 'The Singles Ward'."

"Chant 'I love orange JELL-O' as loud as you can three times outside your door."

"Act like a chicken laying an egg."

I did not make any of those up. And in addition to the movie, this extra little "game" just helped to highlight what makes me so uneasy about the culture. It seems like these adults are forever trapped in an Elementary School state.

The body's sacred—no caffeine, no nicotine, no alcohol, that's cool. Straight-edge community. I get it.

But the culture of infantilization is what I find so disagreeable. Putting blinders on to what's happening in modern culture. I don't think you need to use the Seven Dirty Words to be funny or relevant, but is THIS crap what you're really left with? Dancing the Hoki-Poki and acting like a chicken laying an egg? Do people find that entertaining?? Honestly???

If a neighbor knocked on my door and asked me to dance the Hoki-Poki with him... I would kill him. I would grab a kitchen knife and cut him.


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