We have studied all the writings of the prophets and their citings
And we think we’ve finally found just what we seek.
No man can know the day or hour for the Lord won’t grant us power
But we think we’ve finally finally figured out the week.
We all believe the Constitution is the Lord’s Divine solution
But someone said it’s hanging by a thread.
And if she’s falling anyhow, might as well make sure it’s now
That way we can all come out of this ahead.
That’s a little jingle I put together in my youth, to celebrate my years at Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in the early 1980’s. It’s one of many such ditties I wrote for a musical play that will never get produced I titled, Made in Utah. It may have been made in Utah, but it will never get played in Utah. I ran it by a couple of local arts councils who had been under the impression it was a “tongue-in-cheek” look at Utah Valley Mormon lifestyles. Well, I thought that described it pretty well, but it was handed back the next day having had a very good reading at a meeting called specially to give it a listen. “Sledgehammer-to-the-crotch” however, was their impression of it, and so they found it unsuitable. Silly Mormons. What did they know.
Now of course, the biggest new hit on Broadway is a crude little musical written by two arrested toddlers still in the anal stage of comedic development, called The Book of Mormon. The critics are just in love with this thing. I’ve only seen snippets of it, teasers so far. I can’t imagine it’s very accurate overall, it may however be funny, assuming the two authors had a responsible adult on hand with a sense of good taste, unilateral control over the production, and the wisdom to know that incorporating humping puppets and a talking turd into a missionary discussion isn’t just bad form, it’s pathetic and only hilarious to a four-year-old. (I’m just guessing here, but this may be close: “Elder Saltyballz…Oh my God! Moroni’s dead! F**k! Goddammit!” Joseph Smith: F**K YEAH!)
Unfortunately, you can hear many of its mostly foul-mouthed numbers online, and critics have already warned that it is the most profane book ever performed on a Broadway stage. Its general language is beyond obscene, leaving it appropriate once again only to that narrow, but loyal, South Park clientele. Its authors use the same gag over and over—their only gag—where a sweet and often insightful setup is abruptly slapped away with a revolting payoff when least expected. Unfortunately, again, that’s exactly what you expect from them, so you end up just counting off the minutes and wondering how these childish louts are going to make this scenario go all filthy on you, over and over. It gets old in a hurry. It’s that whole insight thing I guess. Tre Parker and Matt Stone never developed a Superego–so they don’t know when they’ve crossed the line because they don’t even know what a line is much less where it might be located.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IjBi1eEaAA&feature=related (Warning: Actual song from Book of Mormon.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA8hhIirp60&feature=related (From Book of Mormon.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0_YfOqn7Pw&feature=related (From Book of Mormon.)
Of course, Mormons just don’t have any perspective on themselves in any case, so I suppose if Mormons won’t allow their own witty geniuses to spoof themselves in a clever but fair fashion, in language that is not reminiscent of R Lee Ermey’s performance as a Marine DI in Full Metal Jacket–only set to music and stretched out a couple of hours–somebody outside the Utah culture inevitably has to pick up the satirical Mormon baton and run with it. Mormonism will just have to live with the results. There’s just too much material to work with there to let it languish in that dusty valley. And on the other hand, witty Mormon geniuses don’t get far in the stifling Utah Mormon culture in the first place, because at the bottom of it all, there’s no big cover-up conspiracy—it’s just that most Mormons think Donny and Marie are witty geniuses and musical powerhouses. The sort of Book of Mormon musical Donny, Marie, and their leagues of Mormon showbiz “experts” incubated along the Wasatch Front would have written for the Broadway stage, would have been a glorified assemblage of LDS Roadshow skits that would make the sophisticated Broadway culture laugh alright, but not in a good way. Thinking about that prospect is hilarious on its own: Imagine the Hill Cumorah Pageant with chorus lines and production numbers….
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtQq-c2LmMg&feature=related (Hill Cumorah Pageant.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UnipVuQdyc (Cumorah Pageant protesters.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOGZPzJEA2k (Cumorah Pageant clip.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUc62jD-G0o (Full Metal Jacket Clip—watch at peril of salvation…)
Folks, I’m just saying this new Broadway hit thing isn’t going away any time soon and there likely be will be more of the same from others who rise to the challenge. Sorry. The Book of Mormon Broadway musical now falls into the Mormon public icon category formerly reserved for the likes of the Osmonds and Glenn Beck. There’s a veritable resurgence of public curiosity about Mormons, and it’s going to be fed by somebody. Mormon culture is a big easy pitching machine that just keeps lobbing softballs gently over the plate and all anyone has to do is step up and start swinging. Parker and Stone are going to be the public face of Mormonism until Mormonism mans-up and does them one better. Any publicity is good publicity. Deal with it.
Just so everyone knows, Glenn Beck is a Mormon. Right now he’s “Restoring Courage” to Israel, as if they need him to do that for them, and last summer he was “Restoring Honor” to Washington DC from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I had a dream” speech, as if they needed him to do that for them. Oddly enough, I had a cable access show in the 90’s where I used a chalk board, drew diaphragms, goofed with Right Wing conspiracy theories, and it looked a lot like Beck’s early efforts–before God took over his programming. It was funnier though. Like my Mormon musical that Parker and Stone swiped, my silly cable show didn’t catch on much. (Always ahead of my time. I was doing “video verite” or “reality TV” before anyone knew what that was either.) I wish Glenn Beck luck but as I’m often wont to say of Rush Limbaugh: I heard everything he had to say in 1988. In Beck’s case, I heard everything he’s going to say in 1978, when I moved to Provo Utah to go to Brigham Young University.
I had a thing for Marie Osmond when I was younger. It naturally began with seeing her on the Donny and Marie TV show and everyone at church telling me they were Mormons too. It wasn’t intentional, but I ended up in the same festering Utah Mormon college town and found myself standing briefly next to her once before I realized that even saying “good morning” to Marie Osmond was a closely guarded privilege that lay at the end of an Osmond-run gauntlet lined with a whole corps of smothering church and family members who would literally sit you down and interrogate you for simple dating approval–based upon a litany of LDS pre-requisites. Oh, I had all my papers in order so-to-speak, and might have stood up under the white-hot Osmond lamps of inquisition, but the odds were slim I’d make the cut and it wasn’t worth the effort.
I still have a thing for Marie Osmond, it’s just a different sort of thing.
In fairness and full disclosure, my fondness for Marie Osmond effectively ended a few seconds into our first and only chance meeting. In my entire life I only encountered her close-up for about five seconds in a buffet line in a backstage environment. I was alone there, throwing together a quick sandwich as a student crew assistant on a remote video shoot in the lodge at Sundance, Robert Redford’s ski resort, the original small home of the now huge film festival by the same name. I looked up from the cold cuts and saw a very small girl across from me, apparently scrutinizing a single piece of fruit as if debating whether she could get away with eating it without ballooning up and losing her network contract. I said, “Hi,” and then realized it was actually the Great Marie Osmond Herself there. She looked taller on television. I didn’t recognizer her at first, so I must have looked either visibly startled or overly pleased to see her. She looked up and shot a glance over at me with a flat affect, as if to say, who are you and why the hell are you talking to me? Eye contact lasted about a half a second and she walked away without any sort of reply at all. It wasn’t much of a meeting. Maybe I was just too chicken to pursue it, what with her Osmond Mafia goons all around. But I’d seen enough of Marie Osmond to determine that even though this chick hadn’t said a word, she was screaming “high maintenance” at the top of her lungs.
In our few seconds together–and you can call me judgmental if you will–I was actually mildly put-off by Marie Osmond’s general physical layout. She was pretty, alright, a little toothy, pale and emaciated, but nice. She was also just shy of being an actual dwarf. More important than her diminutive stature however, she was wafting around a heavy perfume of non-sexiness that shriveled my private parts like the frosty cold mist of an improvised shower at an Arctic winter camp-out. She carried herself in a way that reminded me of that first cold blast of water that always catches you by surprise when you switch the tub lever from bath to shower.
I tried to console myself that her tiny frame would never be able to pass one of my husky Nordic offspring anyway. Birthing our first big Norski baby would probably kill her. I pondered whether or not my intentions of enthusiastic Viking-style lovemaking would have cracked her frail, bird-like skeletal structure as I attempted to sew my strapping Nordic seed until she begged for mercy and had to be transported to hospital for medical attention. I speculated that once reproduction had been confirmed, in good Mormon-girl fashion, there would be a sudden cessation of purely recreational experimentation concerning the act of sexual congress, until the process of birth had been concluded and the next procreational project was permitted to commence. In the end, I concluded that any effort to effect a loving courtship and establish sexual compatibility with Marie Osmond was utterly academic–however God might have intended to bring us together from clear across the continent, and into this random convergence. This was not fate I told myself. This was not my soul-mate. This was just a very lucky girl who looked OK, sang pretty well, and got a break into showbiz because her big brothers looked cute in straw hats and Andy Williams loved barbershop quartets. Take showbiz away and not much remained in the way of attraction.
Of course, Marie only gave me the same sort of look I or any other average guy routinely got from the little cliques of hot and “popular” babes throughout high school anyway. So whatever her “feck off” look actually meant it wasn’t all Marie Osmond’s fault. There’s still however, a part of me that keeps tabs on her and not-so-secretly cheers her every failure as a small victory for my ego. As I view each of her latest tragedies, I smirk back smugly, thinking I could have saved her from a lifetime of heartache. (As if.) And then there’s the main part of me that only wonders what price I would have had to pay to keep her happy. In the end I just heave a sigh of relief, and take solace in knowing that I’m perfectly satisfied with my 31 years or so of marriage to the same woman, and content that neither of us nor any of our six naturally-hatched kids are anywhere near as screwed-up as the cast of human failures assembled in Marie’s Osmond’s numerous hand-chosen, LDS-approved attempts at making a family. And we did that on honest working man’s wages—not via the fiscal padding of a multi-million dollar-a-year doll shop, an entertainment empire, and a load of in-laws and show-business handlers running our lives.
Happy Mormon peons like me don’t matter to the world, or apparently the LDS Public Relations Department. But for some reason Marie Osmond still does. The LDS culture still prefers to boast itself as a country club for Saints, and not a hospital for sinners. It’s all about selling “eternal perfection.” The more “perfect” you are the more value you have to the organization. Marie Osmond on the other hand, has just gone into her third re-negotiation of “marriage for time and all eternity” and has become a walking pity-party. All LDS PR efforts aside, that’s what the public sees of “official” Mormonism, not the perfectly normal, mostly happy lives of the rank and file membership.
You may remember the “Mormonads” of the peak Osmond era in the late 1970’s and a decade beyond. These were Just happy little Madison-Avenue-crafted propaganda pieces posing as public service announcements, reminding people not to steal from the office, beat their wives or yell at their kids, and urging us all to be nice to everyone. The latest similar effort was pioneered in my area and a few others, and it features usually a seemingly pointless commercial about someone you don’t recognize at all, like a biker or doctor or ethnic musician babbling merrily about his or her life for no apparent reason, and then at the end, the blurt out, “And I’m a Mormon” suddenly, in an almost startling fashion.
Like all Mormon efforts to prove how human and accepting they are now of diverse lifestyles, when you go to this site as a Mormon contributor, you find a rigid matrix of instructions that tightly constrict your input to the project, whereupon a board of moderators filter and approve what actually gets admitted to the array of LDS member profiles open for the public to see. Most of us thought we could pop out the webcam and shoot our own viddy and float it up to the big Mormon cloud for the world to see as an independent LDS statement of faith, personality, and culture. We figured of course some moderation would be in order. Not so. The fact remains that the LDS church doesn’t trust the average Mormon to represent the average Mormon without church leadership telling the average Mormon how to be the average Mormon. Instead of a survey of what’s out there in Mormonism, it’s a chance for Mormons to be taught how to tidy up their own personal ads so they look more like the Salt Lake ideal models.
In truth, the church isn’t interested much in its rank-and-file contributors to the project. In fact, most of what you see on YouTube for example has been professionally shot, edited and scored, and the members featured have been screened for ethnic or popular interest or to spin the surviving pallet of LDS lifestyles available for the public to review in such a way that it most closely appeals to whoever it is they’ve targeted this time as their core demographic.
Again, like begets like, and like certainly recruits like. In short, Mormon leadership thinks that recruiting black boring accountants and Asian boring bankers out in the hinterlands to counterbalance their white, Utah counterparts, is what “diversity” means. Mormon leadership thinks that spending 90% of your free time going to church meetings, home teaching, taking your kids to meetings, reading scriptures and watching kids so your wife can go to her meetings and do her visiting teaching, not drinking, not smoking, not swearing, not telling crude jokes or farting in public, but doing all that and riding a motorcycle too, is “diverse.” Look at me, these ads say, I’m a hot young woman, I’m an exotic ethnic mix and I play in a chamber orchestra, and the only way you’ll ever have me as a lover is to join my church and marry me in the temple—but we can make passionate love only in-between meetings and callings and assignments that is, and only for procreation. No fun stuff please. Implicit in these ads is the central statement that, after checking off the list of things I can’t do, and after fulfilling the list of things I have to do first, the Mormon church lets me do this one fun thing too………
The LDS church, simply put, doesn’t trust you to spend your time constructively without constant supervision. The LDS church has been inventing busywork to keep Mormons out of mischief for generations. Busywork is now a central part of the Mormon culture. Unfortunately, most truly creative, productive, intelligent personalities are quasi-anti-social lone-wolves, fixated, driven, and compulsively moved toward exercising their intellectual or creative muse. The best and the brightest in real life, are engaged nearly constantly in the act of producing good works that are inherent detriments to meeting the official Mormon’s week-long, daily schedule of meetings, priesthood or Relief Society assignments, church sports or social functions.
Hey bishop! I cured cancer last week!”
“Yes brother, but your home teaching is down to 80%, we hardly see you in church, you’ve dropped out of choir, you need to renew your temple recommend, and we’re going to have to put your records on cold storage if you can’t get those statistics up by the end of the month. You need to start thinking about your priorities.”
Nobody in the world today denies that Joseph Smith was a genius of one sort or another. Joseph Smith spent his life pissing of all of Christianity, fighting off mobs, building a major world religion, settling the American wilderness, stick-fighting, wrestling, escaping from jail, raising armies of defense, arguing wild doctrine and Biblical histories while smoking, chewing, and drinking. He make a grab for a few extra wives and then died in a frenzied gun battle. He never once called a meeting to discuss getting home teaching statistics up, or sat in Ward Council pondering how to retain new converts. But wild Joe Smith is no longer the perfect male Mormon model–or rather, Joseph Smith’s image has been feminized, sanctified, sanitized, puttied-over, sculpted and sanded down smoothly over the generations to match Mormon image desired by modern LDS leadership.
In a way, it’s a good sign that after spending millions of dollars and several generations promoting a campaign to enforce the internal and external use of its full legal name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as a proof to themselves and others they really are “Christians” because they have “Jesus Christ” in their name, that the LDS church is finally learning that if it doesn’t also protect its nickname brand, “Mormons,” then the public will continue to define the Latter-day Saints by the more visible trappings of other “Mormons” like the pastel bonnets and pioneer dresses worn by snaggle-toothed, butt-ugly, inbred gaggles of old crones and teenaged polygamist wives down in various Texas apostate compounds. If the LDS church doesn’t get ahead of the media curve, “Mormons” will universally conjure up images of a some aging slob in a welfare-supported trailer house complex in southern Utah, grinning on a ratty sofa, surrounded by his happy but mostly fat and boring wives on some MTV reality series as they tell the camera how great their shared husband is, and how happy they are to bring their young, slightly thinner, slightly less-inbred new “sister wife,” their third-cousin LaVonne into the family. If Mormons won’t clearly define themselves in a ways that don’t just beg for public ridicule, they will be defined by whatever adolescent crudities the folks like the creators of South Park care to stage in their name on Broadway.
Fair is fair though, and Parker and Stone’s constant allusions to the Donny Osmond being the ideal LDS human model is accurate. Even in this heightened LDS atmosphere of cultural diversification, the unspoken requirement, the implied measuring stick, the true canon for joining the Mormon church, black, white, Asian, biker, banker, tinker, tailor, candlestick maker, remains that if you like the Osmonds, you’ve got the right stuff to be a Mormon. Some people just don’t like the Osmonds. Some people don’t even like Elvis. I don’t like either, but what that has to do with accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior is beyond me.
Personally, I’m tempted to create a host site for spoof “I’m a Mormon Ads,” where Mormon trailer trash or Irish Mormon tribal skinhead-types can show themselves dancing a kilted jig on a pub table, or show Mormon motorhead punks street racing and drifting up and down some local town’s main drag, or Mormon Boy Scouts scrambling out of a brawl in a public park, maybe throwing eggs at Donny and Marie posters in Vegas, or maybe even dramatically featuring some Mormon UFC/MMA fighter beating some sweat-splashed opponent into bloody submission, and then have them rise, arms high in victory, mug the camera and say, “And I’m a F***king Mormon.” I’d call it: “I’m a F***king Mormon.com” But that would be in poor taste.
Glenn Beck however, is handily superseding Clan Osmond as the premier world ambassador and leading drama queen of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This represents an exponential boost in perceived basic intelligence and general wit of the public Mormon image. Unlike Donny and Marie, the latter in particular, Beck doesn’t have his own private Mormon apostle (Yet? That we know of? ) to write promotional books about him or arrange and perform his several “eternal” temple marriages. Glenn Beck doesn’t talk the Mormon church president into coming out to dedicate his personal media empire. (Apparently in the case of the Osmonds, this was done for the benefit of gathering believers to Zion, and gathering tithing to the church coffers.) Glenn Beck has wisely avoided direct connections to Mormon leadership, and vice-versa. It is possible the latter have learned their lesson with the Osmonds and are now far more cautious about making official connections to those of the entertainment and public personality classes.
Osmond studios incidentally, went belly-up in a year or two after its dedication by LDS church president Spencer W Kimball. This was precipitated when the Donny and Marie show was cancelled due to the public’s general boredom with the two warbling Mormon cherubs. Subsequently, not one of the Osmonds could either think of anything creative to do with all that production capability, or had the sense to hire somebody who actually had a clue, and put their vaudeville money into the projects of somebody truly creative. Like most Mormons, the Osmonds are performers, not creative artists. Mormonism Is big on recruiting sheep to the fold, but sheep have little comprehension of shepherding. When the Hollywood writers, producers and directors left, they had nothing.
As an example to common Mormons, Marie Osmond in her glory days of Provo, made a career out of starvation fasting, fainting to the floor repeatedly like a clattering bag of very small hammers, and being rushed to Utah Valley Hospital for yet another emergency IV. Her mom, Olive, was a jolly, round little woman who’s prolific womb popped out an empire in a few decades on a salesman’s wages plus commission. But Marie spent her life desperately trying not to end up looking like her happy little mother, and went to extreme measures to defeat her God-given genetic programming. She seems to have struggled out three kids on her own by two husbands, and when that paid hell on her figure I suppose, went to buying trophy kids to replicate her mother’s big family performance, without totally wrecking her figure at the same time. In fairness, there may have been some sort of sexual inability or fertility issues there, possibly related to her freakishly small frame and narrow birthing canal on top of an anorexic diet.
I just shake my head and ask myself, How was all that supposed to work out? And of course, It didn’t. When you make it your first priority to pursue a showbiz career in showbiz towns and raise your kids in a showbiz environment, you really have to take responsibility for setting out on an inherently troubled course and thereby transporting your spouse and children through whatever stress or worldly hazards you have delivered them up to. That’s down to Marie Osmond, because she financed the trip and drove the wagon that led into that valley.
Marie Osmond and company, or would that be Marie Osmond LLC…? Anyway, Marie’s personal LDS general authority was unavailable to come back a third time and perform yet another union of what no man can put asunder about a month prior to this writing. As they say in the business world, he’s no longer with us. True, he did pass away in 1998, but he would not have been available anyway. His name was Paul H Dunn and he did however perform the first two “eternal” sealings. Guess the LDS First Presidency had to do the “un-sealings.” And of course, this only means that the first time he tried joining Marie Osmond in a perfect, Celestial union for time and all eternity, his “eternal” seal snapped loose within a year or so. This first “eternal” bond was put entirely asunder in less than three years so Marie could have a second go at it. The second time around, Marie personally chose somebody more worthy of her—or at least a better candidate for kept man and happy house hubby as “Mr. Marie Osmond.” But again this second marriage crapped out a handful of years into it. After a try at reconciliation over another several troubled years, and amid a host of vague allusions to some sinister actions on the part of her second husband, Marie eventually rejected this second perfect and “eternal” union on essentially the same grounds as she rejected her first. Then in an almost bizarre move, with her second divorce barely just resolved, about a month back as I say, Marie returned to her original husband, the man she coyly allowed everyone to believe was cheating on her and heaping “mental cruelty” upon her in unbearable quantities.
I note that on Marie Osmond’s third try—and still counting—at “eternal” marital bliss, Marie had a much quieter ceremony, in the Las Vegas temple—no prophets, no LDS general authorities, no fanfare. She did however with the help of a few opened seams and relieved darts, make quite a show of purging and starving herself back into her original wedding dress–just to show us her priorities are straight this time.
All this speculation and nose-poking may seem unfair, but Marie Osmond made her personal business my personal business when her dad “The George” mostly a real-estate mogul by Provo standards, who made his fortune in the boom days of selling houses to aging California Saints who desperately wanted to retire to “Zion,” created the Osmond burlesque show and sold it to the world as the toothy face of Mormonism. Furthermore, there’s simply something unnatural about maintaining your stake in a meaningless dance contest after your kid jumps off a building and your old man kicks the bucket during the semi-finals. There’s just such a prominent string of fame-addicted weirdness about Marie Osmond that it begs examination. I’m constantly bombarded by well-wishing Mormon she-asses who worship her and marvel at her alleged strength of character in this maelström of crap “happening” around her. They just fail to see that the common element at the eye of this crap storm is Marie Osmond. That’s probably not a coincidence.
There’s something creepy about a woman who sweats and fasts herself into exhaustion just to ace Kirstie Alley out of a gig as diet program spokesperson, claims she’s doing it for her kids and their concern over her health, and then crashes like a sack of spuds to the floor on national television in mid-interview in a dead faint as a result of all this new gained “healthiness.” Most people collect dolls as a hobby, to relax. Most people don’t compulsively turn it into a multi-million dollar business on top of a dozen other high-pressure ventures and then blame their depression on some chemical imbalance due to pregnancy. And then write a book about conquering depression. And then obtusely blame their husband for not living up to some thinly alluded-to moral expectations at the same time you’re confessing to the world you’re a screaming nutcase who abandoned your newborn kid, threw the house keys to the maid and ran off in a suicidal funk to hide in some roadhouse for a couple of months.
I’m waiting for Marie’s new novel about overcoming the death of a child. An Osmond never misses a trick, so that’s the next logical venture. There’s obviously a quick buck in that—and you can always claim you did it to help and comfort others. You can say it was therapeutic.
The Osmonds say the show must go on—but why? Nothing any of them do is of any social, religious, or political substance. They’re in the fluff business. They’re a vaudeville act. They whack each other on the head and shoot seltzer down their pants and get paid for it. They’re the lowest form of entertainment there is. Marie says she has to go onstage because that’s the only thing Osmonds know how to do. If Marie wants to get depressed about something, try that.
And like most Wasatch Front Mormons, particularly those in Utah Valley which remains the multi-level marketing scheming center of the universe, the Osmonds are simultaneously engaged in selling and boostering magic herbs and Australian tea tree oil and any other Word of Wisdom Superiority or Utah-Mormon folk doctrinal snake oil that puts a nickel in the tin cup. In my generation, every Osmond owned a Provo burger joint or some other local business that all went tits-up only to be followed by the next Osmond attempt to prize pocket change out of the local Zoobies that also went tits-up. (Zoobie is Provo slang for BYU students, as in B-Y-Zoo.) This cash-grubbing Osmond carnival act was shilled to Mormon youth and the public at large, by pitchmen like the soon-to-be demoted Mormon apostle Paul H Dunn, who practically toured with them, lived with them, and promoted them in person and in writing like a carnival barker.
When I arrived at BYU I found all the Osmond boys skipping around campus with floopy hair and budding beards. Donny and Marie had a floundering show on network TV. The older singing brothers were washed up as a barbershop act and had to suddenly “discover” their country roots by pretending to be the Oak Ridge Boys–if only they had a bass that is. And if only they were Christians so they could have gone gospel. In either case, I’m sure if had been possible by surgical correction, one of them would have been designated to sing bass by way of surgery. But bass or no bass, they had hair and lots of it. And big bushy beards. That was the new outlaw “Country” look in 1978. Donny, well, he had mutton-chops and a mop-top. Little Jimmy was the Great White Hope, as he actually had a tune on the charts in Japan—which also went tits-up.
While at BYU I spent about every five minutes being bombarded with questions from young women looking to get mated up, wondering where I served my mission. Every bishop on campus was interrogating every unsuspecting Mormon boy who hadn’t served as a full-time missionary as if hellfire awaited those who neglected this mandatory requirement for salvation. Meanwhile, Paul Dunn and others were mincing through Osmond firesides explaining to a Mormon people apparently lacking any sense of irony, how there is no way an Osmond could ever serve as a full-time missionary because they were so famous. This is doubly ironic since Dunn was the darling of the missionary set at the time, and would regale these sorts of youth firesides, missionaries, and missionary recruits with stories of his alleged athletic excellence in pro-baseball. Dunn’s principal anecdote featured some point of challenge concerning his pitching ability, where Dunn is sarcastically asked who told him he could pitch. The punch line was, “Gehrig.”
Of course, Paul Dunn never met Lou Gehrig and never had a pitching career. His insipid prose was inanely popular in books like I Challenge You/I Promise You, a gimmicky little tome in which you had to turn the page upside down to get the promise after reading the challenge. By God’s Grace every copy of his drivel disappeared off the church library shelves about the same time he was quietly placed on “emeritus” status and vanished into the Utah dust somewhere for telling tall tales about his heroic exploits on a famous ball team he was never a member of.
I’ve got an uncle’s beard in the Smithsonian Museum as the longest one in the world. That’s a “Style all our Own.” While I had to shave my traditional Nordic chin whiskers and bob my hair to meet BYU grooming standards, I was being told that the Osmond lads could never cut their hair because it would destroy their public image and it was required for them to perform onstage with a marketable look. Later in my stay in Provo, while young Mormon women all over campus were being indoctrinated into the joys of being a good wife and mother, the same people were blaming Marie’s Osmond’s first husband for not conceding to follow his working wife around like a good puppy and live out of a tour bus and a string of hotel rooms as “Mr. Marie Osmond.”
Marie’s reclaimed her first as her third husband, let’s just say her latest husband, the mentally cruel one, the one everyone concludes must have been cheating on her–a charge she doesn’t mind letting hang out there—but what’s going to be different? This poor guy was hand-picked and passed an inspection board of family and church officers. It barely lasted a year–just long enough to squeeze out a kid and for Marie to figure out she’s not cut out to be a real Mormon wife and mother. Another year or so of trying to pretend she could hold an “eternal” marriage and family together and still be a star, and Marie was done with it. So was he.
Marie Osmond’s second mate she hand-picked herself. She proposed to him. Then, a couple of actual kids, a bunch of adopted add-ons, and a once-again lagging stage career later, something horrible happened. Like Glenn Beck, with Marie Osmond you’re never sure quite what that big horrible thing is. But Marie didn’t mind going on Oprah or anywhere else to explain just how awful whatever it was was, and reassure everyone that whatever it was, it surely wasn’t her fault. And of course then the rumors about her hand-chosen second partner in marital crime started–cheating, pornography, child molesting, what have you. Marie just let it all float out there to gain sympathy and preserve her market viability. In reality, the guy may have just wanted to have sex with somebody who actually enjoyed it for a change. It could be that simple. Or perhaps Marie’s new pet house hubby got caught looking at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition to bide his time while she was out being famous and he was left home to change diapers and feed the cats—a serious “emotional” cheating if nothing else in the ever-more feminized Mormon culture.
But we’ll never know, because the two Marie Osmond spouses either just have the class not to shoot their mouths off to the media like Marie “reluctantly” loves to do, or the Osmond Empire has so bullied, bartered and bought their silence that the Clan O can entirely control the public spin and thus preserve the marketability of the Osmond name–which Marie incidentally slapped on her first husband’s kid for a while until it became clear he wasn’t going to be an onstage act, and then it probably became less important for him to bear the Osmond brand. It was later hyphenated into a mess of surnames I don’t care to sort out.
Ultimately, my time with the Osmonds at BYU comes down to this: If Mormon popularity and therefore missionary success is inextricably linked to wearing mutton chops, spangly jump-suits and looking like a gay Elvis, then why wouldn’t you make that the Mormon compulsory “Style all our Own” BYU forces upon its inmates, instead of emulating the GI’s and IBM business–looks that the early 20th century isolated, hillbilly Mormon leadership first became enamored with as modern, sophisticated and cultured, when civilization finally became known in the Salt Lake Valley after the first World War?
I don’t want to give Marie Osmond ideas, but…Kate Gosselin. If all else fails Marie could stay famous by being famous and make people pay to see her doing nothing special other than being famous: Look, I’m buying wet-wipes now. Look, I’m changing into another designer outfit to go shopping in. Look, my kid-wranglers are helping me make snacks out of organic seaweed extract…. Marie Osmond could have skipped all the work and rehearsal and voice training and ended up more popular than she is now. Gosselin is a reality TV superstar. Mormonism has every reason to roll its eyes at Kate Gosselin and think, thank God she’s not one of ours. But compared to Marie Osmond…it’s a toss-up. The only difference is, we got to watch John Gosselin sit on the couch and hear him get bitched and nagged and emasculated into an awkward silence year after year. When John Gosselin ended up on a ski trip with his party girls, the only question I had was, why did you put up with that bitch for so long John?
We have more coverage of the Gosselin saga than we need, but you won’t get any similar coverage of the secret Osmond goings-on. You have to guess. You just have to wonder, for example, back at her first, virginal marriage: If Marie Osmond is supposed to be an example to Mormon young women, why was she on the road playing back rooms in Vegas and treading stages made out of converted tobacco sheds in Branson Missouri, trying to save her second-banana career in a struggling solo act nobody cares about, while her new husband the local college basketball star was drinking milkshakes on Center Street in the back booth of Jimba’s on a Provo Saturday night—with an old girlfriend in tow? The Osmondos—as Osmond fans are called—conclude that it’s all down to him. He was cheating on her and he’s the bad guy. I just have to wonder how bad it must actually be to be newly married to someone as cute as Marie Osmond if you don’t want to be snuffing and pawing around her like a rutting stag day and night. That isn’t normal. What I see in that scenario is a guy who got the old bait-and-switch treatment and in his first year of the “ideal” Mormon marriage, finally realized that he was the one who got cheated. Well, he got a better look at the package than I did. Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes not. Caveat emptor–Buyer beware.
But the same people so willing to believe anything Marie Osmond says, also watched John Gosselin get henpecked and whipped as he sat on his hands and bit his tongue week after week down the sofa from his certifiably narcissistic, genetically engineered baby-pimping wife Kate. John sat there taking lash after lash, for not living up to the high standards of performance and obedience Supermom Kate Gosselin demands of all her staff, as she manages the laboratory experiment she calls a “family.” And though it’s easy to see that Kate Gosselin fabricated her additional five children mostly to gratify a grandiose sense of mothering talent, you’ll never convince her female fan base that Jon, the quiet little guy she dragged into her combination side-show, baby mill, and organic pet farm, was anything other than a cad who had no reason to be unhappy with her. Marie Osmond has always enjoyed the same protection.
It always comes back to sex with me. I’m a guy. It’s usually that simple. Kate Gosselin’s the Queen Bitch of Hell. That’s easy to spot. No amount of good sex could ever make up for that problem. But Marie Osmond’s troubles have always been craftily obfuscated. I do know Mormon women a bit however, and in these cases it’s usually some hang-up the woman has about sex or a general inability to enjoy it or be sexy period. And frankly, Mormon men are seldom helpful in making the experience fully enjoyable for their partners, so you have that going for you.
Mormon Marital troubles in particular come also from an inability or refusal to spawn offspring. This theory would explain all the Hollywood-style faddish trophy children Marie Osmond went out and bought. But I don’t know. Nobody will ever know. I challenge you to Google your heart out and you won’t find more than a sentence or two from, or in defense of, or even explaining the perspectives of her ex’es. All you’ll find is Marie consoling Marie. Salt Lake, would no doubt love to enjoy a similar command of damage control in the commercial media and internet blogosphere.
The Osmonds are quick to imply that Satan is working against Marie’s happiness. Yes, the Osmonds intone with Mormony import, the Adversary works against the Lord’s people, and the Lord gives him sway because God knows we grow through adversity…. While this is true, I also assure you boys and girls, brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen, that when Satan comes looking to destroy your life, steal your soul and bind your future to hell, you won’t have to seek out some remote crossroads at which to meet him at midnight and negotiate the deal yourself. When the Devil comes stalking your body and soul, he will come to you with contract in hand, singing a sweet song, wearing a pretty dress, and looking a lot like Marie Osmond. You will gladly sign on the dotted line in front of friends, family, and witnesses, and you won’t ever give a thought what the paper actually demands of you until it is too late.
The Osmond defense for telling me I should butt-out is of course, that they never said they were perfect. In all fairness, yes they did. Throughout my entire adolescence they ran a veritable propaganda machine for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that very clearly promised eternal happiness and a Celestial Marriage for time and all eternity, if I followed their example and kept up LDS church standards. The observable fact is, this only seems to have worked out for the male Osmonds, all of whom did indeed select good Mormon wives, and thereafter live typically happy, undramatic Mormon family lives. Marie on the other hand is either secretly the prettiest Osmond brother, or she’s a flagrant hypocrite.
Marie Osmond has never made any attempt to be a standard Mormon wife and mommy. She has always obsessively pursued a life of fame and fortune as a professional working woman. I repeatedly sat in huge, 30,000 body assemblies at BYU in which Marie was no doubt in attendance, where then president Spencer W Kimball and other LDS authorities openly admonished the crowd of young men and women to never let their career or academic pursuits delay or curtail the Divine assignment to become worthy wives, mothers, husbands and fathers. “No other success can compensate for failure in the home,” as the late LDS president David O McKay put it.
The only thing Marie Osmond’s observable lifestyle has shown me is that her LDS faith apparently only insures that you’ll be a sober failure as a wife and mother.
Had Marie Osmond fallen in line with the Mormon Biblical model roles for male and female, Marie could screw up her marriages and families as much as she wanted to and I wouldn’t have a finger to wag at her. But what was good enough for the rest of Mormondom, was not good enough for Marie Osmond. Marie had to do all that and more, with a few million in the bank and her name up in lights. Marie Osmond never stopped being an Osmond, first and foremost–never took the name of either spouse, never tried to trim back her professional aspirations in favor of her family–and by that I mean her husband and own children, something she doesn’t seem to quite conceptualize about marriage. Marie has invariably slighted her immediate family obligations and spousal loyalty in favor of working toward fulfilling career moves motivated by personal gain, fame, and loyalties primarily to “Osmond Enterprises” rather than accepting her husband as the president of her home and respecting his leadership.
You may remember, when Donny Osmond got married, his fan base evaporated. In fact the Osmondos got violent, and followed his subsequent tour with eggs in hand, usually targeting his new wife in the wings. Marie never really had a fan base apart from being Donny’s sidekick—since country boys like their chick singers “just a little bit skanky.” Even Donny had to dirty himself up a bit and re-emerge as the “Soldier of Love” in the 90’s. But throughout the periods in which Marie simply had no career to speak of, throughout all the years where she could have elected to fall back to her core LDS role as a wife and mother and just quietly be a mom and good housewife, quite to the contrary, she vehemently pursued any avenue of fame and fortune possible, at whatever personal or family expense.
In Utah, where they write all the church manuals and magazines, LDS leadership spends most of its time admonishing the naughty priesthood holder for neglecting his wife and family by spending too much time trying to earn the money they demand from him by Biblical injunction so they can comfortably live the life they expect him to provide for them without any effort on their part. Since Marie Osmond obviously owns the pants in the family even if she pretends never to wear them, here goes a lecture she might get in priesthood meeting:
[Adam’s] statement, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” (Gen. 2:23.) Adam’s statement is wonderfully symbolic of the closeness he felt with Eve.
The covenant between Adam and Eve is summarized in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” [Gen. 2:24] Referring to this scripture, President Spencer W. Kimball commented, “Do you note that? She, the woman, occupies the first place. She is preeminent, even above the parents who are so dear to all of us. Even the children must take their proper but significant place.
“I have seen some women who give their children that spot, that preeminence, in their affection and crowd out the father. That is a serious mistake.” (Ensign, Mar. 1976, p. 72.)
It is all too common in modern times for husbands and wives to place various people or activities—work, recreation, extended family, even Church service—above their marital bond. This is not necessarily a conscious decision. However, the covenant made by Adam and Eve to leave parents and be one teaches us that successful couples will be careful to place each other first. The greatest gift parents can give children is a united and loving marital bond.
Marriage is not just a social contract between man and woman; it involves God as well. God is a witness to all marriage agreements and insists that couples should be devoted and completely faithful to each other. The allegory of marital fidelity in Proverbs 5:15–21 beautifully portrays the blessing of faithfulness to one’s spouse. [Prov. 5:15–21]
18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Part of me feels bad for being so blunt about little Marie Osmond. But if she wasn’t Marie Osmond and just some aging double divorcee from any random LDS ward, every Relief Society biddy in the stake would be picking her to pieces for putting her career ahead of her family. I suppose that’s why Marie is so quick to produce the counteractive charges of some nebulous inability of her spouse to live up to LDS standards. It gets her off the hook with her Mormon base instantly.
In any case, I don’t want a church full of Osmondos. If your primary attraction to Mormonism centers around one family of Utah carnies, you’ve really got no basis for joining. But it’s too late for that. The Osmondos have thoroughly infiltrated Mormonism, and the Osmonds just won’t piss off out of the spotlight and give normal human beings a chance to investigate the church.
Which circles me back to Glenn Beck.
Until Glenn Beck came along, the Osmond Family Circus was the Mormon church’s primary public image. The Osmonds became a world phenomenon at their peak, and still are so some extent–though when Donny’s Soldier of Love came out in 1989, some kid at church asked me, “Didn’t he used to be some kind of Mormon or something?” And that was a Mormon youth in a Mormon church mind you. He and Marie have battled their way back up almost to prime time since then but have hit the exponential wall of a dying fan base. Literally dying. Dead. Old and dead. Nevertheless, the dying Osmond sideshow will haunt Vegas, the TV, and if nothing else, Branson for a long time yet through Donny and Marie and the various spinoff Osmond hatchlings.
But Glenn Beck on the other hand, is on the rise in public awarness, though most Mormons are only now catching on to the fact that Glenn Beck is one of their own. So far, Glenn Beck is hoping to privately slide his devout Mormonism past his public audience issues for a while and I can see why that would be helpful. The second your political opponents find out you are a Mormon they have two hundred years of dried out old anti-Mormon horsepucky to kick around till it obscures anything constructive you might have to offer in a big stinky cloud of poop dust. Obviously I think there’s plenty to be annoyed with in Mormonism–I’ve just wasted thousands of words and killed millions of brain cells exploring Marie Osmond’s foibles and she’s the cream of the Mormon crop. Imagine if you started digging out the real Mormon screw-ups.You don’t need to make this stuff up and nobody should have to waste their time debunking anti-Mormon BS. There’s just so much of it out there and it doesn’t actually do anyone any good at all to rehash it every time a Mormon looks like he’s running for office or leading some public movement.
Ask Mitt Romney. Well, come to think of it, Romney is just an Osmond who can’t sing so don’t waste your time–all you’ll get is platitudes, a big white smile, and a firm handshake. Go ask Glenn Beck. Or Ask harry Reid–though most of Reid’s critics are going to be fellow Mormons. Yeah, he’s one too.
Be sure to keep checking this space because I’m working on something very soon that will BLOW YOUR MIND…!