Sunday, April 7, 2019

Mormon Films, Part I: Gender Roles

For a little while I've been wanting to do a series on the cringiest and most memorable Mormon films from my childhood. There were a whole bunch of these that I grew up watching over and over at church functions.

These films hold a weird special place in my heart. There's a certain special horror and nostalgia I feel watching them as an adult. Nostaliga, because they remind me of being a kid in the early 90s when times were simple, but horror because most of these films have not aged well.

This week for Strangerville we released the first of what will be a four-part series reviewing and analyzing these religious movies. Today's offering includes some films that explore gender roles and the treatment of women in the 70s and 80s.

Please enjoy.


This time in Strangerville, Meg really wants to drink coffee. And we take a cringey look through some classic Mormon films that teach us a little something about gender roles.
Segment
Mormon Films: Gender Roles, by Eli McCann
Audio Player

~It Just Gets Stranger

22 comments:

  1. I haven't listened yet, but I hope you talk about Cipher in the Snow.

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    1. This was my exact first thought, as well! Still haunted by this movie. The one about the letter, too... was it called The Letter?

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    2. Of course I didn't look it up to double check the title until after I commented, but it is creatively called "The Mailbox". Point to them.

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    3. Oooh, how about “The consequences of our choices” (the one about the pump)?

      Just prime the puuuuuuump

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  2. And my parents wondered why I was always getting in trouble for trying to crawl out the window or sneak out the door in sunday school when they played these horrible movies. They were crap in the 80s and 90s and they are crap today. I cringed through every sound clip in the podcast.

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  3. I literally could not stop smiling while listening to that. So glad there are more of these coming!

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  4. Ok, now I have actually listened to it. And my daughter (five years old, doing play doh while I listened and worked on some projects) missed ALL your swear words (one? two?), but when you said "DUMB-founded" she gasped, looked up at me and said, "Mommy! He just said, 'dumb'!" So... there's that. I AM excited for Cipher in the Snow, can those two words be used in the same sentence? Also, I say PEONY the same way you do, Meg, so solidarity.

    AND I want to talk to whoever put Nebraska so far away from Utah. I want to go and boo and clap and cheer for this show I have not watched and will not watched, but have massively loved reading your recaps about.

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  5. “Three inches of snow” as I laugh from northern Canada.

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  6. WAIT A MINUTE. Maybe I'm missing something (and I really don't want to go back and listen to it) but how does Mary Beth have time for school, volunteering after school and most of the day Saturday AND dialysis?? Definitely seems like it was shoehorned in at the last minute.

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    1. Don't you DARE underestimate Mary Beth. She's the Mormon OPRAH.

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  7. PS I feel like you're killin' it in the Mormon wife guilt inducing flip outs department(i.e. Skylar feeling compelled to do yard work) just sayin...

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  8. Why am I so angry about Johnny Lingo messing with the wife market? Inflation is going to be through the roof! The island can't even support the number of cows the next generation will need to buy wives!

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    1. This is my favorite comment anyone has ever left anywhere on the internet.

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  9. So excited for this series! My heart thrilled that you used the audio clip of the Witch of Petticoat Junction from "Pioneers in Petticoats." She's my FAAAAVorite. "THAT'S not the only thingggg," she intones down her nose...

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    1. I literally included Pioneers in Petticoats only for that one line.

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  10. The conversation on missionaries vs. doctors reminded me of my dad's story. He served in Taiwan in the 70's and suffered from massive headaches. He went to a local doctor there, after being told by his mission president to do whatever that doctor said. His diagnosis?

    "You're too stressed and uptight! You need to just go get a prositute and have a lot of fun for like 2, 3 days max and then you'll be fine!"

    Needless to say, he didn't get to follow that doctors advice after all. And it wouldn't have helped, because turns out he was allergic to soy. And in Taiwan. Not a great combo.

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    1. This is perfect. Please keep these stories coming!

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  11. Lifelong member of the Church, pushing 30 years old, yet I somehow never ended up thoroughly watching Johnny Lingo until I was in college. I went to BYU-Hawaii. Johnny Lingo was filmed in Laie. Where BYU-Hawaii is. It is a BIG DEAL. While I was in college, the 50th anniversary of the filming of JL was commemorated and there was a huge fireside (and I think the premiere of a new version of the film?! I have no memory of watching the new version so I may be wrong about that part). All of these people involved in the original filming came and spoke about it. It was interesting to hear how they filmed in certain locations and backstory type stuff about how the film boosted local economy, etc. The actress who played Mahana was the keynote speaker at the end of the evening. I found it FASCINATING that since her breakout role, she made a name for herself by traveling and speaking about self-worth as relating to what she learned by playing the role of Mahana. Even as I sat listening to her explain her message and why the film was important, I just kept thinking “this makes no sense I am so confused.” I was amazed to discover that some people actually took Johnny Lingo seriously and thought it had a beautiful message. It had always been mocked in my home and treated as a joke (hence why I had never actually watched the whole thing). But man, it is serious business to a lot of people!!

    This also makes me think of my time as a member of the Focus Film Club on campus where the film professor would direct his own original scripts and they were....something else. One was a Twilight spinoff and I wore fake vampire teeth and killed someone. Another came on the heels of Girl With A Dragon Tattoo and was about FBI agents trying to solve a supernatural murder mystery where people kept turning up dead with dragon tattoos. My friend was on set with Sharpies and drew tattoos on people and my lovely face sporting a dragon neck tattoo ended up as the movie poster. These clearly were not religious in any way...just “clean entertainment” and of a similar wow-factor production quality. GOOD TIMES. I am so happy that I am immortalized on film in that way. My grandchildren will be so proud.

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  12. Also will you be talking about the Apple Dumpling gang?? Was that a Mormon genre film??? I can’t even remember the plot anymore I just remember that it played during a “drive in movie” primary activity once and I made a SUPER AWESOME CARDBOARD CAR!

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  13. So I don't know if this comment will even be read but I just finished all four parts of the films. It kept being mentioned that these movies were shown during church activities. We watched The Phone Call and Johnny Lingo in seminary occasionally but I never saw any of these movies during a weeknight activity or Sunday class. I am about 4 years old than Eli (but I am also not running for president) and we just never watched them in church. I watched the Emmett Smith Story while attending medical school because the actual Emmett Smith was on an LDS senior mission with his wife to Arizona at the time so I felt obligated to watch the movie but it apparently wasn't good enough to make the podcast cut. Anyway, even though I grew up in Logan during the 80s and 90s I had an unusual experience without those movies. Also, about The Mailbox, maybe Lethe adopted those children that were the same age as the neighbor. This makes the movie even more tragic as she saved them from having to live a hard knock life in an orphanage similar to the one from Annie and then they couldn't even write her once in a while to thank her from saving them from their own life of tragedy.

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