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what a bunch of prudes. actually it's probably just a few prudes, but they ruin it for everyone else. however, i know that this film played in the theaters, so maybe the ones upset about not being able to see it are mad mostly due to the fact that they can't see it for $2.50 or whatever the varsity charges, and instead will have to puy full price or rent the dvd.

Oh......here we go again.

Why don't they just do away with the Varsity Theater and be done with it? If they are going to continue to have to pull movies because a small number of people are offended, just get rid of the theater all together and allow people to make their own choices at the movie house down the road.

Aimee, that sure seems like the obvious solution. The fact that a few students might be offended is not newsworthy. The fact that BYU doesn't seem to be able to come up with an approach to deal with what is a simple problem is, however, puzzling. Why don't those running the Varsity Theater or the International Cinema program simply tell offended students they may have a refund and suggest they come back another night? Why do BYU bureaucrats feel the appropriate response is to shut down an educational activity (remember, BYU is an educational institution, not a surrogate mommy) rather than encouraging the offended students to act like adults? Why do students who would know the proper response anywhere else they encounter offensive material (change the channel, find another book to read, even leave the theater and come back another night) think that on the BYU campus the proper response is to make a priggish stink about it?

Just what is it about BYU that encourages this kind of response by students? And why do the people running the place put up with it?

I loved the International Cinema, but I must admit it was weird to see nudity in that room on Saturday night, and take the sacrament there on Sunday morning.

(I agree with all of you that the Zoobies need to grow up. I guess people just feel better about themselves when they have a cause.)

I've heard that Hero is fantastic. Has anyone seen it?

Dave: BYU is an educational institution, not a surrogate mommy.

Darren:
Ah, yes, but the educational institution is only secondary to the comfort that it give parents knowing that their daughter won't get raped by BYU football players...(oops, strike that), that their son won't get beat up by BYU football players...(oops, strike that), that their daugters will not be allowed to have more than one ear piercing and their sons will not be allowed to wear sideburns below the earlobe (yea, that's it!!)

No, BYU is not a surrogate mommy, it is a pharasee field camp.

Yikes, did I sound that cynical Darren? As I read the story it is not really a blanket fault against BYU students, because this is plainly the response of a small minority of students. As you will get a small minority of almost any group that will take offense at some aspect of a movie or a book (secular culture encourages the "I'm so offended" pose as much as religious culture), there's nothing unique about the response of a few BYU students.

My surprise is directed at how the university responds to the few students who have complaints. It seems like there are a dozen better ways to respond than to chuck any movie that gets a complaint.

PS--I added Mormon News to my Media blogroll. If you send me an email with a few details, I'll do a post highlighting it.

It's ironic since BYU has one of the best film programs.

Ronan, Allison and I loved Hero. Lots of unity metaphors and symbolism--very Chinese.

Aimee, to my knowledge, they have gotten rid of the varsity. The current scandal is with the International Cinema, which is now housed where the varsity used to be in the Wilk.

Dave, I don't think you sounded that cynical, but I think I did.

For most of the country, college is a time for developing ones' self and learning interpersonal boundaries and generating a personal set of ethics, among the biology, sociology, and math classes. BYU robs this process of interpersonal development by assuming that all that development has been completed by a lifetime of Primary and YM/YW dances.

While there are many, many young people who go to BYU and appreciate the appearance conformity and relative lack of social pressures regarding illicit substances, it seems to me that the for many students, and moreso the parents of those students, BYU offers an atmosphere of social and intellectual comfort. When I say intellectual, I do not mean academics; I am refering to the lack of a social and responsibility-based paradigm shift that most colleges inherently offer students. These shifts help grow high-schoolers into at least semi-productive adults who can appropriately judge proper social constructs relative to those who do not think and behave exactly as they do.

It is this 'secondary' education coupled with the behavioral and appearance pacifier that makes, IMO, BYU an incomplete educational institution.

I see, as someone who has not attended BYU, I wasn't aware that the Varsity was gone. However, I have been to the IC before and I really liked it. I think it is sad that they can't allow people to choose for themselves. I agree that if someone is offended, they could get their money back, and leave the theater. This is what you would have to do in any other situation.

Or, just don't go. No one is forcing someone to see something, right? It's not like this is part of a grade or some other required viewing, right?

For the record, I loved my years at BYU. Most professors were intellectually honest and in my major (zoology) they never shied away from what might be considered controversial. My class in evolution was just as valid as a class at the U of Utah, with the added benefit of knowing the church's stand on the issue. (Some GA's are clearly opposed to it, but the official stance of the church is to leave science to the scientists.) The International Cinema was phenomenal and no attempts were made to edit the movies there, though there were frequent letters to the Daily Universe complaining about it.

I get the impression that since my graduation in 1995, the student body has been "purified" a little. I got a scholarship even though I didn't finish seminary. I don't think that would happen today. And obviously, some professors with controversial ideas have been sacked.

There sure are a lot of people out there who hate BYU.

Darren, if you experienced such a "social and responsibility-based paradigm shift" at some college, it sure doesn't show, because if you did, then the result should be, as you stated, that these shifts help grow high-schoolers into at least semi-productive adults who can appropriately judge proper social constructs relative to those who do not think and behave exactly as they do. However, this is not how you come across. Rather, (1) people that support and appreciate the BYU ethos are "those who do not think and behave exactly as [you] do" and yet (2) far from exhibiting the trait of "appropriately judg[ing] proper social constructs relative" to such people who do not think like you do, you just dismiss the hundreds of thousands of thinking people who have graduated from BYU as former inmates of a "pharisee field camp."

For some reason, BYU evokes stong emotions. But with tens of thousands of students attending BYU, it is only natural that there is a range of opinions about BYU as a university campus. The fact is, it can be both a "pharisee field camp" (to Darren) and a great place to go to school (to John F) at the same time to different students. Those running BYU are quite content to have a campus culture reflecting LDS Mormon values (including a bias in favor of rules) where most LDS students feel at home but where some LDS students and most non-LDS students feel otherwise. And "the BYU effect" it is not limited to students--many LDS faculty love BYU, while others prefer not to accept faculty positions there. When you're different, people either love you or hate you.

While I might quibble with some BYU policies at the margin, I don't agree with those who argue that BYU should be just like any state university. There are hundreds of good state universities out there--why should BYU replicate what a hundred other universities already offer? Diversify campuses and let students self-select.

Just for the record, I went to BYU and had a great time there. Looking back I am more sensitive to what I perceive as negative aspects of BYU culture than when I was there, and I suspect the same is true of many BYU grads.

John, I agree that there are many out there who hate BYU, as well as any other university for a myriad of reasons.

I will take exception (surprise!), however, that I am exhibiting those traits that I decry. In the context of this blog, I believe that I am not out of bounds in this social construct in critizing BYU list of non-academic appearence-based standards. If I were at a BYU alumni site in the middle of a BYU-is-great thread, I would be out of bounds by stating my opinions.

I will also take exception to the implication that I am attacking the BYU student body. I am not. I am attacking the school that they attended and in the manner in which they were treated with regards to superficial appearances and the lack of apparent divisity of thought. I must note that I am basing my opinion not on personnal experience with BYU grads, but on the various media products (Daily Universe, etc) and overall vibe (nice and precise, I know) one receives from the University.

And far from dismissing the many thinking BYU grads, I believe that they prosper after school inspite of their BYU education. I feel that there are many, many professors at BYU, particularly in the sciences, who have to battle constantly against the religious dogma exuding from the school and church leadership which is the precise thing that makes the school worthwhile for so many. Without those professors, BYU would quickly degrade to another Bob Jones University...which maybe happening with the banning of acclaimed PG-13 movies.

I don't understand the point of criticizing BYU for wanting to keep its standards high and enforcing that. So Hero isn't being shown in the International Cinema. Who cares? Go watch it at Movies 8.

The problem with all of this criticism in the Bloggernacle about how Latter-day Saints that want to live up to high standards are merely pharisees is that implicit in this observation seems to be that there would be nothing wrong with living by lesser standards. How can that claim be made for the people who have chosen to live by higher standards? You counter: BYU is forcing a pharisaically high standard by officially condoning or withholding support for certain media or movies. Hero is not some XXX movie, so why turn it down? Somehow, this choice implies to you that BYU is intellectually oppressive (apparently because it doesn't conform to your idea of what intellectual enlightenment or social and responsibility-based learning is).

How's this for teaching social and responsibility-based learning: the students can choose to comply or not. (i.e., nothing has changed, they still have to make their own choices and take responsibility for it and orient themselves socially according to it. Just because the choice is between seeing Hero and not seeing Hero instead of to lay or not to lay, or to smoke out or not to smoke out, the life lesson is the same. I disagree with any assertion that the only real learning comes from first drenching yourself in the dregs of life and then from there properly "socializing" yourself and taking responsibility for the mess you have made of your biology and psyche.)

Just venting steam that has been building up over numerous threads of late Bloggernacle-wide in which implicit in criticisms of the existence of and accordance to high standards is a statement that those who participate in not seeing a movie (or doing something else) because of personal standards are less sophisticated or educated (and if only they were more educated then they wouldn't do something as absurd as skipping a given movie based on their prudish "pharisaical" standards).

I am going to have to go with Dave on this: that folks will see BYU in different lights.

However, I still feel compelled to reply.

I don't understand the point of criticizing BYU for wanting to keep its standards high and enforcing that. So Hero isn't being shown in the International Cinema. Who cares? Go watch it at Movies 8.

Spot on. Who does care? Why did the story show up in a state-wide newspaper? Why are we discussing it? Obviously, many people care. Motivations differ regarding why folks care. I care because I see it as a net negative and many non-mormons will see it as black eye regarding BYU and the church. Others care due to how it portrays BYU as holding firm to high standards.

The problem with all of this criticism in the Bloggernacle about how Latter-day Saints that want to live up to high standards are merely pharisees...

But who sets the standard and how arbitrary is it? I don't see how a lack of facial hair or wearing sandals can seen as praiseworthy. Maybe I am out of the collective social consciousness on this issue. Christ repeatedly chastised the rules of the pharisees, so I am not sure the church or BYU should be making the big fuss about appearance standards (white shirts, earrings) that they do. I don't mean this in a personal manner, but the pride exhibited in the statement ...implicit in this observation seems to be that there would be nothing wrong with living by lesser standards that the BYU student body are living higher to standards is glaring. I understand the honor code and its enforcement, but I don't see its many appearance standards as anything meaningful.

You counter: BYU is forcing a pharisaically high standard by officially condoning or withholding support for certain media or movies. Hero is not some XXX movie, so why turn it down?

You are right, that is my counter argument, it is a pharisaically high standard. But don't you think the church should hold itself to those same standards? The rhetoric over the pulpit about the values trampled on by prime time TV while at the same time the church profits directly (through church-owned TV and radio stations) from these obscene shows is hypocritical.

How's this for teaching social and responsibility-based learning: the students can choose to comply or not.

I don't see that this is a real choice. Choose to obey or suffer the consequences. Here is a good (IMO) article about agency and the church.

I disagree with any assertion that the only real learning comes from first drenching yourself in the dregs of life and then from there properly "socializing" yourself and taking responsibility for the mess you have made of your biology and psyche.

I never made this ascertation. I do not believe this is a good route to take in developing one's own moral code. But I do think it important for folks to realize that a beer with pizza does not make a person a wife-beating alcoholic any more than a candy bar makes one diabetic. These kind of social constructs that I am referring to. For a fresh BYU grad in their first job out of Utah, observing responsible, professional people drinking alcohol the grad will almost invariably look down on these people as "less-than" due to a normal, centuries old tradition of social drinking.

For a fresh BYU grad in their first job out of Utah, observing responsible, professional people drinking alcohol the grad will almost invariably look down on these people as "less-than" due to a normal, centuries old tradition of social drinking.

Give me a break.

As for your contentions regarding the high standard and whether it is arbitrary, or too high or whatever, my point with all that is that who are you to tell some BYU student who chooses not to see Hero that their standards are too high and pharisaical? You say there is pride wrapped up in the statement that if BYU students don't live up to the honor code that they are settling for a lesser standard because it implies that the BYU standard is a higher standard. What about the pride wrapped up in condescending dismissals of the choices of BYU students to hold themselves to higher standards in the first place?

If everything goes and noone is right, then how is BYU wrong in setting its agenda? Go to the UofU for you beer and pizza. But I do think it important for folks to realize that a beer with pizza does not make a person a wife-beating alcoholic any more than a candy bar makes one diabetic. What an absurd example. I guess the BYU administration doesn't realize this--otherwise they would surely stop trampling on students' rights to have beer with their pizza (word of wisdom [i.e. God's law notwithstanding). And I guess BYU students/grads are too stupid to realize this on their own without you enlightening them (after all, they have chosen not to have that beer with their pizza, and that decision is merely based on the pharisaical rules).

Any criticisms for the University of Michigan? Oh yeah, there is nothing to criticize--everything is allowed there, so true academic freedom reigns and every student stands the chance of social and responsibility-based learning. Those students have real choices (as opposed the fake choices faced by BYU students, i.e. to live up to the honor code that they have signed).

I don't understand the point of criticizing BYU for wanting to keep its standards high and enforcing that. So Hero isn't being shown in the International Cinema. Who cares? Go watch it at Movies 8.

Does Movies 8 have Humanities classes associated with it? Are they included with BYU tuition?

Maybe BYU should get rid of classes in Humanites, Literature, and Fine Art. Clearly to be complete, a course of study in literature will have to include somethings that people find offensive.

Come to think of it, why do movies bear the brunt of our criticism? Some of the same morally upright people who shun movies spicier than PG will have no problem reading the latest John Grisham novel with a graphic sex scene and lots of "F bombs".

Another thought. Do you realize that the Church broadcasted 10 years of Friends?

"Clearly to be complete, a course of study in literature will have to include somethings that people find offensive."

Why?

No offense, but I just don't quite see how that follows.

Well, maybe you misunderstood exactly what I was getting at.

Let me give one example. I think that Catch-22 is one of the greatest books in American literature. I think most literature types would include that book on their list of important American books. Yet it includes dirty words and descriptions of sexual immorality.

I don't know if Catch-22 is part of any BYU course. I hope it is, but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't. Maybe the lit majors can read Summer of the Monkeys instead.

John,

I mean no offense. My idea of what a higher education should include is different that yours. I state my opinions. You state yours. My ideas are valid, as are yours. I withdraw.

The difference is that I don't feel called to crusade against the absurdities of the institutions that espouse your idea of what higher education should be. On the other hand, there is no lack of people who have a chip on their shoulder against BYU's approach of offering all the benefits of higher education but also demanding high standards of those who attend. Anyone not on board with that shared vision of a "BYU-style" learning environment just simply doesn't have to go to BYU. There are thousands who are fully willing to live by BYU standards but who cannot attend BYU because of the natural limitations of a single university.

Pheo, I think you missed my point. The canon of great literature is huge. You are saying one can't have a good literary curriculum without having to read the controversial books. I'm just not sure I buy it. I also think, to be frank, that most people consider certain imagery in books different from explicit representations on film. You might not agree with that distinction, but I suspect the vast majority of people hold to it. I also suspect, rather strongly, that those entering into the literary curriculum aren't the sort who will get offended at the reading lists they use. Maybe I'm a pollyanna in that regard. But I think the people who tend to get upset at such things tend not to be the English major types.

Pheo:

Movies bear the brunt of our criticisms because images and sound are more powerful than the written word. If I read a four letter word in a book followed by an exclaimation point, it's less shocking than having it shouted at me in DOLBY surround sound.

Likewise, it's easier to shake a written description of something from memory than an image that was blasted to you from a 50' screen.

John: You make some good points. I can think of no good reason to criticize a person who chooses not to see a production which violates their standards of morality. However, I think the basic problem is that you consistently refer to the standards in question as "high" or "higher". I think that is what annoys so many outsiders because they just don't agree that some of those standards are in fact higher. They are just different. When we call them higher, we are implicitly attacking their own standards of morality. That may be appropriate in some circumstances, but some of the standards in question seem to many to have no basis in morality. And when you say that you don't feel called upon to crusade against the absurdities of other institutions, and wonder why they feel called upon to crusade against the perceived absurdities of BYU, you forget that they probably interpret statements to the effect that BYU students are observing higher standards as implicit criticisms and even crusades against their own.

John: I agree that you can develop a literature curriculum that largely shuns books with controversial sections. But if books like 1984 are important to understanding Western literature as a whole, a program that drops it because the protagonists have sex diminishes the value of the program.

To add to Gary's comments, let me ask this one question:

Are BYU students in general more concerned with 20 seconds of sex sounds in a movie or unnecessary preemptive war?

The answer to that question kind of makes their morals look more than a little screwy, whether they are right or not. Talk about swallowing a camel and straining at a gnat!

I bet that Darren gets really mad when BYU professors in any field publish in academic journals because, after all, they are not participating in real academia (how can they at an institution like BYU that doesn't offer a proper higher education?).

Pheo, would you be satiated about BYU's resistence of sexual immorality if only a majority of the students shared your opinion of the Iraq war? Or would you still deride them for their adherence to moral standards regarding sex and pornography (which the prophet has repeatedly counseled the entire Church to avoid like the plague)? In other words, just because (from your perspective) many BYU students don't espouse the same opinion of the Iraq war that you do, it's pointless for them to maintain their standards with regards to other things? I can understand taking a stand on hypocrisy (since that is apparently your accusation of your projection of what BYU believes), but does that justify throwing out the baby with the bathwater?

Wait. Is the baby the war and the bathwater the 20 seconds of sex sounds, or vice versa?

Hypocrisy is everywhere and in everyone, but we can learn a lot about how to better ourselves when we expose our institutional hypocrisies. That's where I'm coming from.

No, I don't have problems with moral uprightness. You make it sound like I think it is dumb for BYU students to abstain from extramarital sex. It's just frustrating when people get sidetracked by the small things. Not that the small things don't matter. Let's just get our priorities straight.

For what it's worth, I'd still have a problem if a majority of BYU students saw the Iraq war the same way I do. The fact that any reasonably intelligent person thinks it was the right thing after everything that we now know irks me to no end.

I will continue to deride people for their attitudes about sex. I think that it is right for people to abstain from sex until marriage (and after, if that's their thing). But I think that our panicky, head-in-the-sand approach to sexuality is less effective in preventing premarital sex. (I don't have any data handy to support it. Not that it would change anyone's mind anyway.)

And when have I derided someone's moral standard's about pornography? Is Catch-22 pornography? Is 20 seconds of sex sounds pornography? Please.

God damn, John, your comment about me being really mad when BYU profs publish really pisses me off. Where do you get off? As I alluded to in an earlier post that the majority of profs, particularly in the sciences, it is the they who are keeping the school together despite the inane grooming and appearance-based rules of the administration and honor-code department.

As a geologist, I have used top-notch groundwater modeling software (GMS) created and distributed by BYU. There are numerous top-of-their-game professors at BYU. They are top-notch scientists and professors despite the convoluted restrictions that BYU puts on professors to baby-sit other young adults (i.e. separating students by gender on field excursions) and trying not to warp their fragile young minds (i.e. banning this movie based on some sexy sound effects). To state that I would be really mad at BYU academics publishing in academic journals because of the accredited university they teach at because I think portions of the honor code to be utterly silly (my examples of earrings and sandals) is to so completely miss any notion of a point that I was attempting to make as to bring into question your motives of mis-representing my position.

In the future, I recommend a more thorough knowledge of ones' position before so completely missing the mark.

Well, it has been an interesting discussion, hasn't it? I think I'll close the thread at this point--time to move on to discuss other interesting topics.

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