Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tom Hanks Hitting Below The Belt?

HBO is apologizing in advance for an upcoming episode of "Big Love" that will show a Mormon temple ceremony. Such ceremonies are considered sacred by the church and are not made public.
The Mormon Church has previously voiced fears about the series, which launched in 2006. In a release, it says it feels a betrayed by HBO.

"Despite earlier assurances from HBO, it once again blurs the distinctions between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the show's fictional non-Mormon characters and their practices. Such things say much more about the insensitivities of writers, producers and TV executives than they say about Latter-day Saints."

As a member of the LDS church myself, I have a problem with this. I'm not surprised, but definitely disappointed by this decision. I'm more concerned that the creators of this show are dishonest enough to deliberately try to link the LDS church and its polygamous offshoots. No polygamous marriages are performed in LDS temples. Period. To suggest otherwise, or to suggest that a polygamist would be able to gain entrance to one of our temples is a deliberate ignoring of fact, bordering on libel.

But more disturbing to me is Tom Hanks' connection with the show. He's the executive producer, and recently railed against the church for its support of California's Proposition 8.

So is this just a petty attempt by Hanks to get revenge on the LDS church? It's hard to believe otherwise, considering the timing, and considering the fact that the show has to purposely bend reality in order to do what it's doing. This is practically the same as producing a show about Lutherans and then showing them performing a Catholic mass. Except if they were doing that they'd just be discredited for making a rather obvious blunder.

In this case they'll probably be applauded and rewarded by the industry for their "artistic bravery". There's no bravery here, and even less to do with art. It's just a cheap shot from a man upset that America is still governed by majority rule and is too much of a coward to attack the Muslims and black Christians who also supported the proposition. He's got a political ax to grind and doesn't care what truth he has to distort or what sacred and beloved traditions he has to trample on to do it.

I'm not going to boycott HBO. Sure, they have the power to stop this, but they're merely supplying the platform for Hanks' childish vengeance. And frankly, I think it would do the Church more harm if they did manage to get the episode canceled. Besides, I don't even have cable or satellite, let alone watch HBO. It would do no good to boycott.

But I am seriously considering boycotting Hanks, even though he's been one of my favorite actors. Even if he didn't come up with the idea, he is in a position to have stopped it. He could have taken the high road and said "Look, I know I have a problem with the Mormon Church, but that's no reason to compromise the integrity of my show by allowing deliberate fabrication and sacrilege. We're all adults here."

But he didn't do that. He decided to use his money and fame to punish another group for using their money to legally influence an election. Don't get me wrong. He has a right to do it. That's exactly my point. The LDS Church has a right to weigh in on moral issues, and the members of that church have a right to donate their time and money as they see fit in political causes. If that is wrong, then it's is just as wrong for Hanks to do what he's doing (if not worse considering the potential libel involved).

You can't have it both ways, Mr. Hanks. If that's how you want to spend your money then I'm sure I want to put any more of mine in your pocket.

1 comment:

Chino Blanco said...

Tom Hanks puts this brouhaha into perspective (and waxes prophetic) at the 3rd season premiere of Big Love:

"There's gonna be lies, and secrets, and discoveries, and problems. Television!"