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Monday, July 2, 2012

Dog Poop

I've been sitting on this post for a few months. I hope that everything comes across the way it's meant to be. Please let me know what you think.

One day a Sunday school teacher walked into class carrying a big plate of brownies. The teenagers in the class pounce on them like a pack of rabid hyenas. They start devouring them right after the opening prayer and the teacher sits back and smiles.

"I've got a secret." she says coyly," There is a special ingredient in those brownies." Her students look up interested.

"Dog poop."


"That's right, dog poop."

Immediately each student turns a pale green and gags at the thought. Normally the lesson then continues discussing how media consumption needs to be watched and monitored and if there are any "bad parts", or dog poop, then it should be avoided all together.

This lesson always made me cringe just a bit. I love movies. Media have inspired me to be a better person, to help out those in need. It may sound cliché, but it changed my life. The problem is the films and television shows that promoted the most change were ones that contained what many would consider "dog poop". Were these changes really for the better? Or was I being deceived by the amount of "feces" I had consumed?

I wrestled with this idea for quite a while and one day I realized the flaw in this metaphor.

Brownies are not good for you.

If our diet consisted of solely brownies then we would die from obesity and malnutrition. We could not survive. I realized that what many well-intended Sunday school teachers were talking about was filling our lives with harmless media. Media clear of any bad language, violence, sex, or anything at all that might harm an individual in any way. While these movies are often funny and decent media, the often lack what I refer to as "nutritional value". They are the media equivalent to marshmallow fluff, mostly air and a bit of sugar to help it go down. However, doesn't For the Strength of Youth pamphlet say that we are to "select only media that uplifts you"? Is marshmallow fluff really that uplifting?

Nutrient dense films are often like eating a plate full of sprouts or a bowl full of spinach. They might not taste very good. You also might not enjoy it. However, they're also really good for you. Also, like most vegetables, once you eat them enough you actually will grow to like them. They will become delicious and delightful to your mind. They will uplift and inspire you to do difficult things and to change your life. Nutrient dense media will also challenge you in ways that you would not be challenged with harmless media. That is because often times they contain a bit of dirt or "dog poop" as well.

Remember when we were kids and we would load up pie tins with mud? Did you ever try a bite just to see what it would taste like? I did. Then again, I wasn't the brightest kid in the universe. The funny thing about that is I lived. Even with the dirt and poop and all sorts of bacteria that were squirming around in the mud, I still lived. And you know what? It wasn't that bad. Would I try it again? Never. But would I say that it harmed me? Never. A little bit of poop is far less harmful than a diet filled with brownies, no matter how good those brownies might be.

Media that have a high nutritional value are a rare find. It has been my experience that they also challenge audiences by depicting violence, crime, extramarital sex, or even sex in general. However, there is one key feature that cannot be ignored. Nutrient dense media rarely, if ever, condone the illicit behavior. They illuminate the consequences for the negative behavior. They show the loneliness and pain that follows it. They show the reality behind the sin. Is this bad for our families?

One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is the story of Korihor. He is one bad guy. So why does Mormon, with his limited space and resources, chose to quote Korihor? Mormon intentionally puts false teachings into the Book of Mormon rather than keep the book completely free of anything harmful. He does the same thing earlier when Alma and Amulek watch as the believers are cast into a pit of fire. Or later when the Nephites sacrifice virgins to their idolatrous gods. This pattern continues throughout The Book of Mormon and all of the scriptures. Why does God want us to continually read graphic depictions of wickedness, which if seen in a movie would warrant the movie full of dog poop?

God never intended the scriptures, gospel, or our lives to be marshmallow fluff. He wants us to wrestle with ideas or concepts that make us queasy. He wants us to understand sin, while not experiencing it. He wants us to know the pain that sin and wickedness cause. By showing us these illustrations via proxy in the scriptures he hopes that we will learn from others experiences. Is it too difficult to believe that there are those in the media who want us to learn the real consequences of bad behavior without experiencing it first hand?

Filling our lives with brownies and fluff and media with low nutritional value will only cause us to become fat, lethargic and slothful servants.  This is not to say that any depiction of violence, sexuality, and foul language is appropriate for everyone. We are to seek for "anything virtuouslovely, or of good report or praiseworthy". However, just like sprouts and vegetables that do not taste good in the interim, but provide our bodies with essential nutrients for our growth, media that causes us to wrestle with ideas and beliefs will lead to growth, development, and a greater understanding of our place in God's plan.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Musical Education

Whenever we hang out with friends who we haven't seen in a while, we usually have to have 'the music talk'. This involves going through new albums or artists we have discovered since last talking. Many times, we end up in an iTunes or occasionally youtube showdown, back and forth showing new songs and videos. Today we got to educate my cousin on some great local groups: Katie Dellenbach, Mudbison (Spencer Russell) and The Archer's Apple. (Conveniently, all three of those played at a concert that was our second date.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Miss Representation

In class we watched a documentary about the representation of women in the media. This is one of my favorite topics to discuss, so I was thrilled to have more insight on the issue. I thought it was really interesting how they focused so heavily on the issue of women in politics. It isn't something that I have ever thought much about, because I know several women who are involved in politics on a city or state level and they don't seem to be all that abnormal. It gave an interesting perspective on the grand scheme of women in politics. Now all I need is for David to see it, so we can talk about it even more!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Have you ever been watching a movie/reading a book/listening to music and the content completely absorbs you so much that you don't realize time has passed and you forget the room around you? For me, this is a sign of a good movie/book/music. Film theorist Daniel Dayan created the idea of suture, where the audience is pulled and 'stitched in' to the story or experience. I would argue that this happens in areas aside from film, such as music. This weekend I had the opportunity to hear one of my good friends perform a concert at a local venue. We go listen to him play somewhat regularly and I always enjoy the chance to hear other experience and find more music that I like. There have been multiple occasions when I am watching the concert and find myself completely absorbed in the music, the rest of the world doesn't exist and I am just in awe of what is happening in front of me. I love it!

When have you found yourself sutured into the media you are experiencing? Do you like giving that much control to another person?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spam and Hackers

I do not understand why some people feel that it is necessary to flood the internet with garbage. It does them no good to spam/hack someone, and it just makes everyone else. I am trying to understand the mentality of someone who creates a virus and releases it on a relatively innocent site, such as Pinterest. I do not see what their gain is in trying to get everyone else frustrated.

What do you think? Why do people do this?

Friday, May 25, 2012

What I'm Reading

My husband and I have recently discovered how awesome it is to be able to check out books for our Kindle app on our iPhones. My biggest complaint with eReaders is that you have to buy these books that you may never read again. (thats also my problem with bookstores in general. You pay a lot for a book you may not even like.) But with the digital library, we can check books out for 3 weeks, have them on our phones, and read whenever we like.
I read all three of the His Dark Materials (the golden compass books) this month on my phone. We went to the library to get more stuff to read and I ended up getting:
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
Food and the City
Revolution at the Table
How to Eat a Small Country
Ruby in the Smoke
Time Traveler's Wife
I stayed away from getting mostly novels because of school. I can't get absorbed into a book and stay on top of homework. I am really excited to read the food books though, that is a topic that always fascinates me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Music and the Spoken Word

Today I had the chance to go up to Temple Square to see Music and the Spoken Word, which is the longest running broadcast in the United States. Today was their 4,312th broadcast. The music was wonderful, as was the message. I love that through the media this message can get around the country so easily. While many people in the church are hard on the media, I think that they just forget that with all the bad also comes a lot of good.

Do you think the media is inherently good, bad or both? Why is that?

Thursday, May 17, 2012


It is so interesting to sit and listen to a discussion on a topic that you know a lot about and have a lot of experience when people who don't have that experience are the ones discussing. In class, we talked about blogging and why people blog. I thought it was really interesting that nobody in class mentioned the community that a lot of bloggers feel that they are a part of. Through this community, the bloggers get sympathy, advice, and all around good friendships that can extend beyond the internet. Part of me wishes that I could have a (moderately) well known blog so I could be part of one of these communities. As an avid blog reader and infrequent commenter, I feel sometimes feel like a sneak watching these friendships from the outside, knowing fully that I could join in the conversation at any point, but being too afraid to say something dumb. Ah, it seems silly now...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Music and Identity

I think that the media helps to shape our individual and group identities. Certain groups have music that helps them create their traditions. Personal music tastes help to describe what the individual is like. I think that the music we listen to shapes who we are, but we also are not passive beings, left to be shaped by our surroundings. We actively decide what music we listen to, and thusly like. I don't know that the individual groups that I like to listen to sets me into any particular category, though I do know that some music that I dislike eliminates me from certain categories.
What do your musical tastes say about you?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Slowing Down

As a teenager, my favorite book was The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. This book follows the life of a girl, Macy, after her father dies unexpectedly and she has to cope with losing him, dealing with her mother, and coming to terms with her over the top perfectionism. She begins to work as a caterer,  where she meets Wes, who is so different from the life she has built around herself, that she can’t help by be intrigued by him. My current favorite book is Under the Tuscan Sun by Francis Mayes. This book (which is very unlike the movie) describes a woman, Francis as she buys and restores a summerhouse in the Tuscany area of Italy. She describes the misadventures of an old house, working with Italian contractors who have very different priorities than she expected, and the experience of living in Cortona.
The Truth About Forever was (and to some extent, still is) my favorite book because I wanted to relate to Macy. I have some tendency towards perfectionism in me, and I loved reading about her learning to live in the moment. I have tried for years to live in the moment, to be spontaneous without planning, but I’m still working on it. Macy demonstrates that sometimes the best parts of life are the parts that are unplanned and unexpected. All of this was very comforting as a teenager, to see that it was okay to experience life moment by moment and the sometimes the best things come when you aren’t expecting them.
I love Under The Tuscan Sun and blame it for my passion for Italy. So much of the book is topically about things that I love: food, old houses, Italy, passion for life, and even travel based literature. I loved the spontaneous nature of Francis, when she suddenly decides to buy and restore a house halfway around the world from her apartment and university job in California. I love her descriptions of the house, and through them, I came to realize my love of Mediterranean design. The theme that had the biggest impact on me was her experiences learning to slow down, (like the Italians) and enjoy the small things in life. She beautifully details the joy that comes in simple things.
After thinking about my former and current favorite books, I recognized a common theme: slow down. I love books that push to enjoy the moment, to take life as it comes. Making spontaneous decisions sometimes leads to the greatest joy. I really like the reminder from what I read to take time and slow down to enjoy life as it happens. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012


I have been quite sick in the last week, and as such, have been watching a lot of TV. I would feel VERY safe saying that I have watched more TV this week than I have in the last 4-6 years total. In watching so much, I have learned a few things:
There is a lot of stuff on that isn't terribly interesting. I have yet to discover the wonder/purpose of the home shopping network.
There are a lot of very strange shows. Example: American Stuffers- a show about taxidermists. Weird. It was kinda creepy for the couple minutes I watched it. (nothing-and I mean nothing- else was on, and I didn't have any books handy.)
Commercials are painfully repetitive. When you find yourself humming the song for the Cotton: Fabric of Our Lives commercial perpetually, you start to realize how much you actually see it. 
I have been really interested to see how commercials are targeting different people. The majority of them during the day are targeting women: home care, self care, weight loss, etc. 
It will be interesting to see how much TV I end up watching in the coming weeks as I settle back into a non-sick routine. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Learning the Smart Phone

I ventured into the world of the smartphones about 6 weeks ago. I transitioned from a VERY dumb phone to an awesome, sleek, shiny iPhone 4s. I had a little experience with the interface, but I was familiar with the Apple interface mentality, so adapting to the phone came really easily to me. I LOVE apps (I will have to do another post about them later) and have an embarrassing number of them on my phone. I love having a specific program designed for a single task- a way to flawlessly do whatever I need to have done.
2 weeks ago, my grandma got an iPhone and David and I helped her set it up/get apps/show her how to use it. With every new app or task that we showed her how to do, she would ask how we came to know all this stuff. I have no idea how we learned it, I just felt like I knew what to do with everything. Once she got the feel for the phone down, each new task or app came easier to her. It was really fun to see her learning everything so quickly, without the background that I had. All this made me wonder how I learned to interact easily with the technology surrounding me.

How do you think you learned the technology that you use on a daily basis?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Film Theory Memes

So, I got bored the other day while putting off a paper for a film class. I decided to write up a bunch of memes praising different film theories. There will probably be more to come. Check back soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SOPA/Protect IP

For those of you that don't know Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT Intelectual Property Act (PIPA) are bills currently being proposed that will give the U.S. law enforcement agencies and copyright holders the power to fight copyright infringement and counterfeit goods.

Sounds great, right? It doesn't end there though.

SOPA and PIPA will give law enforcement agencies and copyright holders to shut down or fine any site that allows copyrighted material to be posted on the sites without permission of the copyright holder. What does this mean exactly? You post a picture to Facebook that contains an image in the background that is copyrighted. Law enforcement agencies and the copyright holder now have the ability to fine both you and Facebook for posting that image.

Have you ever watched a clip from a movie on Youtube? SOPA and PIPA will force Youtube to remove ALL copyrighted videos or else they will fine them, and the user, for each video containing copyright infringement.

Now remember, this isn't just for explicit copyright infringement. It also is for music playing in the background of a video, images on walls or clothing. In order to post anything online it will have to be 100% clean of any and all copyrighted material.

Then if there happens to be a song playing faintly in the background the video will be forced down. No matter what the message is.

This has been a year revolutions through Social Media. While it is impossible and impractical to say that social media caused these revolutions it is also impossible to say that they did not provide fuel for these revolutions. In Egypt the government blocked Twitter and Facebook in order to prevent the revolutions from spreading. They wanted to keep people from saying, as Facebook's status question asks, "What's on [their] mind?"

In many ways SOPA and PIPA give government agencies and copyright holders the power to do the same thing. In fact, this may be here-say, but I read somewhere that the US legislature has even looked into copying China's Internet control program. Like I said, here-say, and probably complete propaganda, but still frightening to think about.

It would however, strike against free speech, expression, and many other of the basic rights given to us by the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

I agree that piracy is a problem. Measures need to be taken to stop illegal downloads and streaming of copyrighted material. However, SOPA and PIPA take the solution too far by allowing both the government and private companies to restrict freedom of speech in order to protect their own products.

I urge you all to study this issue out. Let me know where you stand. More importantly let your local congressperson know where you stand. They need your help in doing the right thing. It's up to you.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.