A Motley Vision has an interesting piece asking whether Mormon bands that “clean up” pop songs are expressing a genuine Mormon aesthetic or corrupting the artistic vision of the original artists. The prototypical example, of course, is Clean Flicks. Before being shut down due to law suits, Mormon families could purchase their very own censored editions of popular movies. I think the problem with that approach is that it treats the moral content of art as more or less equivalent to after-market car products: you can add on or take off what you like in discrete chunks. In reality, however, the “bad parts” of movies that Mormons might find objectionable are embedded into the narrative. So on that front, I think the effort to try and reclaim pop art can be essentially a lost cause.
On the other hand, there’s no denying the awesomeness of this song:
And that makes me wonder if another side to the issue is a kind of authentic Mormon eclecticism: taking what we love and claiming it as our own. Spoiling the Egyptians, one might say. And as far as the artistic vision of the original creators: as long as you’re not claiming the work as your own or copying it wholesale than we’ve got a happy coincidence of Mormon eclecticism and art-as-remix.
And that might be the real difference between the song above and Clean Flicks. Instead of trying to give you a sanitized version of the original, they’re taking what they like best and making their own art with it. Not only am I OK with that, I think it might even be something to be proud of.