Mormon Eclecticism vs. Pop Art

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.

1 thought on “Mormon Eclecticism vs. Pop Art”

  1. Is the original version of that song naughty?

    Martin Luther said something like, “Why should the devil have all the best tunes?”

    The remix of the above song is cool and creative and I agree with you that it’s a good thing culturally and artistically. The thing that annoys me, however, is when some in Mormon culture try to take some successful item of pop culture and Mormonize it for no reason other than to have a Mormon version of the thing. For example, we had “Where’s Waldo,” and then soon after “I Spy a Nephite.” Really? That needed to happen? Or “Settlers of Catan” became “Settlers of Zarahemla.” Was that because “Catan” can be spoken to sound like “Satan” or what? Or during the Da Vinci Code craze I saw at Deseret Book “The Moroni Code.” WHY!? Why can’t these people do something original and Mormon!? Of course, many try and some do. But these empty mimics are just sad.

    Also, that whole debate about the artistic integrity of the films being damaged by Clean Flicks was largely very disingenuous. I mean these same movies get edited for content a year or so after their release for television and airplanes anyway. The filmmakers had a legitimate remix copyright claim but it was really about money and not artistic integrity.

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