Monday, January 14, 2008

Best Shocking Exposé

Last week's New York Observer featured an article called "Mormons of Manhattan!" (now that's a headline) which you can read here. It's pretty much your standard "Hey look, Mormons that live in New York, blah blah blah" article that pops up every now and then except it's written in the looser style of the New York Observer*

*What's the New York Observer? Well, it's a weekly paper here in New York that's printed on pink paper and it's sort of different from most papers here. I don't know, like the Village Voice crossed with the Times minus the listings of every single concert and off-Broadway even that will happen that week...also, no ads for prostitutes, either. And here's a piece of bonus information: the summer after I finished law school my classmate Jared Kushner bought the Observer, the whole company. I, however, probably accepted a copy or two of AM New York. ALSO, this is what the Observer is probably most famous for: It published the original Sex and the City columns by Candice Bushnell that spawned the cultural phenomenon/curse of stupidity which grips this city still.

Anyway, the article is pretty much ok but the most interesting thing about it is how the Observer describes what everyone is wearing--I suppose that's a necessary New Journalismy flourish, but it really sticks out at me. Also, I know every single person quoted in the article and it's funny to see them as just someone being quoted and described.

This is what I suggest: Read the article and then we'll all meet up in the comments section and talk about it. Deal?


M said...

disappointed as always. a typical "free-thinkers" approach to traditional morals...meaning espousing open-mindedness and diversity for everyone except the conservatives.

as for the descriptions of people / clothing...a misguided attempt at being literary. how quaint. and destructive to the author's credibility.

looks like i'll need to hoping that some day someone (mormon or not) will write an intelligent article about the church.

M said...

btw, kudos to the non-audubonite for the soundest comment.

Brig said...

Very correct observations, M.

To continue evaluating this article I feel like I need to read it again but I just can't stand the thought of reading again, really. No one comes across as secure in their Mormon identity, I just get this feeling everyone's scrambling to seem legitimate in the eyes of New Yorkers and everything has to be justified...oddly, this leaves the article feeling like it's scrambling to seem legitimate in the eyes of Observer readers. I can't imagine too many people will read this article and feel like they've gained anything from it.

You want a good Mormon in New York article? Someone should just follow Jeff or Collin or M around for a few days.

Scrumpestuous D said...

Hmm... I enjoyed Noah Feldman's comments much more.

++ on following Jeff or Colin or M around. That would be good reads.

Kimberly said...

Yeah, I would have to agree with Brigham whole heartedly. The article does make everyone seem ensecure in their identities and such. And I'm sorry, nothing against Elna, but why is she the person these sort of articles focus on. Like someone's comment to the article, Elna isn't the best representative of everyone else who is Mormon that lives in NY. Again, nothing against her, but I don't feel like I would want someone to base all my thoughts, beliefs, opinions, etc based on Elna's.

Yes, let's get an article with interviews by Jeff, Collin, or M. :)

Brig said...

These articles focus on Elna because Elna's the one meeting people and getting the articles written. As the crux of her comedy is that she's a Mormon, it's in the interest of her career that these pieces pop up and that it's her picture that's on them. The problem, as you pointed out, is when someone is holding themselves up as the representative of a group while the group wonders why they're being represented that way.

A reason why I'm down with the Feldman article is that it dismisses the need of Mormons to legitimize their presence in any sphere. It's intelligent enough for it not to be shocking that Mormons might live wherever they want and pursue whatever they want.

snc said...

Brig, could you give link for the Feldman article? Is there such an article or is it someone who made comments? (I admit to not reading all the comments.)

I read this article sometime last week. I don't recall feeling one way or the other about it other than I am a bit bothered by one person being held up as a poster-child for "new Mormonism" or whatever it is Elna seems to espouse. Actually, more than a bit bothered.

The more I think about it the more I'm bugged by the patronizing tone of "oh little mormons in New York, look how cute, look how adorable in your silly marriage class." and the more i am bugged by someone using their faith as a gambit.

While this wasn't horrible, it also wasn't extremely helpful. it painted broad strokes over old material. I think most people who know Mormons realize that we are actually nuanced. But nuance is hard to play for laughs.

Brig said...

SNC: The Feldman article is the Times article I referenced in this post a little while ago.

M said...

brava, snc.

btw, not sure anyone would want to follow me around for a day...considering i wake up at 6 am, spend a minimum of 10 hours sitting in an office / staring at a computer screen each day, and usually spend my evenings at the gym or watching whatever is on tv. decidedly a little too mundane for journalism these days. probably best they feature jeff and/or collin instead. they're both much more interesting. although i'm flattered to be included in their company nonetheless.

Brig said...

A hotshot lady lawyer that gets up super-early every morning to go give a bunch of kids some religious schooling before her long day of lawyering begins? You underestimate yourself. I'd read that article. Plus it would help dispel the new rumors that all Mormons wear low cut vintage outfits and spend all day reconciling their religious beliefs with their hobbies and favorite weekend activities.

Scrumpestuous D said...

Is anyone else as confused as I as to why this article is in the 'Style' section?

Brig said...

Mormons are totally "in style"! Yes!

Anonymous said...

Oh there are plenty of contradictions, many of them mildly disturbing contradictions, within the Mormon community to confuse any well-meaning scoop. And who cannot agree that it isn't really the Observer's job or expertise to capture the essence of our people. Had they been able, then it would indeed be worrisome because it would mean that we are not living honestly enough. But, anyway, don't we object more strenuously to half-truths than to bold-faced lies?

And why do we crave this "intelligent" article about the church? Do WE need it? Heaven forbid we crave journalists approval. Our egos would be healthier without it. And if it is for the masses, we're better off doing our preaching ourselves.

Forgive my potentially unpopular opinion.


Brig said...

Typical Andrew. Always showing up unexpectedly and being eloquent and insightful. What nerve.