Column: Marketing leeches smother LDS audiences


    By Ethan Scott

    Leeches. They’re all a bunch of leeches.

    Doubt what I’m saying? Take a good, long look at the BYU Bookstore, or one of those missionary stores in the malls. The Mormon kingdom is chock full of people who are looking to make a quick buck off their fellow believers.

    These people burn me up like none other than that “Real World” girl, Julie What’s-her-face. (Say, aren’t her 15 minutes of fame up yet?) The fact is, both arouse my ire for the exact same reasons — they are attempting to draw physical, worldly gain from beliefs I hold dear to my heart. They might as well be auctioning my mother on the Internet.

    And it’s not just that they’re trying to make a quick buck either. Mormon entrepreneurs have this nasty habit of aping other people’s work. That’s right, you heard me. I’m saying these guys are a bunch of rip-off artists.

    Before you burn me as a heretic, take another long look at what the Bookstore has to offer.

    There’s an “I spy a Nephite” book. Hey, didn’t you used to be “Where’s Waldo?” in another life?

    Or, better yet, check out those T-shirts in the mall stores. All kinds of logos and catchphrases have been mangled and twisted to produce a walking billboard of pushy, uptight Mormonism.

    Ethan’s rule No. 27: It’s only original if you come up with it first.

    Perhaps the case that disgusts me most involves the author of a somewhat popular series of books. One day, years ago, I sat down and read one of his books, only to find that the premise had been lifted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

    I refused to read another of this author’s books, and my children won’t be reading them either. If the point of “Mormon-based” literature is to provide kids (and the rest of us) with good, clean fun, why would we also want to teach them at the same time that it is all right to steal someone else’s ideas? Tolkien did a much better job the first time around, anyway.

    Too many church members will buy anything that is distinguishably Mormon, even if it’s an obvious knock off. And there are plenty of shysters out there who are willing to repackage someone else’s product as their own creations.

    The problem seems to be a common one in Mormon society. If any of you grew up thinking Parker Brothers lifted the idea for Monopoly from the Mormonopoly board game you had at home, please do the world a favor and get some help.

    For a group of people who have been told by their leaders that they will one day be leaders in music and literature, we have certainly had an inauspicious start.

    Does anyone really think Afterglow would have lasted 15 minutes without the Mormon label? I invite anyone who does to step out of the la-la land they are living in and get a serious dose of reality.

    There are some talented people working out there — the Mormon Tabernacle Choir comes to mind — but I can’t think of a single LDS book or musical piece that will be judged by future generations as a classic.

    If I get one letter saying “The Work and the Glory” is a classic … ho boy!

    Ethan’s rule No. 264: Any book series including more than five titles is usually written by someone who has a death wish against trees. At any rate, the books are generally a waste of perfectly good lumber.

    Gerald Lund can write some pretty entertaining stuff, but he’s still nowhere near Tolstoy’s league.

    Perhaps one day the tide will turn and Mormon authors and entrepreneurs will work harder at turning out quality products than at getting rich. But more likely, the few who are out there already striving to do good, original work will have to fight even harder to shine through all the garbage dumped on the public.

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