“The Voice” or The Business

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by Bryce Marvin

The 10th season of “The Voice” came to a close recently, and it came down to a group of four talented misfits looking for the next step in their music careers to decide who would earn the title. The finale came in two, 85 minute episodes giving each singer one last chance at winning the hearts of America.

In short, “The Voice” is basically a live-broadcast concert. With each musical performance, fog machines are working hard, the stage is customized to each performer, and the lighthe voice 4ts are in full effect to give the viewers a taste of how the contestants would do as professional musicians. Now take that aspect of the show, and I am all for it!
Unfortunately, over the course of an hour and a half, there’s usually no more than 5-6 performances because there is always a backstory or an interview to share. That is where this source of popular entertainment hits the commercial reality. It is fun to see all the hard work that these musicians have put in over the complete season, but their music and performances speak louder than the countless interviews that they choose to air.

And how about those outfits and costumes?

This finale actually surprised me with the modesty. The two men in the finals, Laith Al-Saadi and Adam Wakefield, were both dressed in long-sleeve clothes that suited their old rock and country sounds. From the two female finalists, Hannah Huston the voice 3and Alisan Porter, they both wore nice dresses as the winner was being announced, but that’s not to say they were always well covered. Hannah often wore dresses revealing her mid-section and back, and Alisan wore a dress that looked like a leotard with a transparent pattern overlay in the finale. The contestants did better than some of the performers invited on the show, or even Christina Aguilera, one of the coaches.

I was not blown away with this two-part finale. The music was good, but not great. After watching for 3 hours, I was burnt out. The format is predictable, and the 4 coaches do a good job of spicing things up, but it wasn’t enough.  I personally enjoyed watching the blind auditions more than the finale.

The music industry is extremely competitive, and “The Voice” is just another opportunity for up-and-coming artists to make a name for themselves while sharing their talents.

This season’s winner, Alisan Porter, is a mother of two who has been in the entertainment business since she was 3 years old. She is most commonly known for her starring role in the movie, “Curly Sue”, but she said that she wanted to focus more on music and less on The voice 2acting.

“The Voice” gives hope to grass roots performers, but is it in vain? Think of all the “American Idol” winners. Think of the last 10 winners on “The voice”. All of the winners have experienced their 15 minutes of fame, but only a few have continued successfully with their music careers. We romanticize the idea that a “normal” person could achieve unbelievable success through one of these programs, but are we giving them more credit than they deserve?

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“Chewbacca” Mom Goes Viral: “Are we laughing enough?”

Chewbaca_Mom_FB_LiveContributors:

Eunseo Baek, EunSol Choi, Ying-Shi Chou, Sooyeong Jeong and Kate Pearson

If you doubt the power of laughter, consider the “Chewbacca Woman.” Candace Payne, mother of two kids in Texas donned a mask of the hairy Star Wars character, Chewbacca, and posted her uncontrollable nonstop four-minute laughter spasm. Her viral guffaw set a Facebook record, with 136 million views. Furthermore, it’s being shared on other sites and social media. For a moment, we paused from our busy day to laugh along with the video. As Latter-day Saints, we also paused to think about the role of humor in our lives.

After purchasing the mask on her 37th birthday, she sat in the car wearing a Death Star t-shirt reading “Epic Fail.” She streamed video via Facebook, strapping on the mask, and commencing an historical laughing fit so boisterous it ignited a global chuckle. Why did she derive such joy from such a simple thing? How did something most would find only mildly amusing send her into such a blissful ecstatic state? “Oh, I am such a happy Chewbacca and I kind of want to drive around like this!”

After becoming a Facebook celeb, Payne was interviewed by the BBC, NPR, and “Good Morning America, and so on. However, her dream is just to meet Steve Harvey and dance with Ellen DeGeneres.

Payne shared her thoughts about social media and encouraged others to set an example for cheering people up. She said, “I just think our world needs that amount of joy right now.” Social media is all about how we use it, and can bring joy to people. She has heard from people who are suffering from anxiety or depression thanking her for lifting their spirits and making them laugh. Payne felt so happy her laughing could help someone, she said, “I finally felt that Chewbacca got his joy back and all was right with the world.”

Quotes from Candace Payne (See one of her interviews at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ne27NcgO6I

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“I’m a stay-at-home mom. I only had a few minutes before I had to go get my kids from school,” the mom told the “Late Late Show” host on Monday.

“I wanted to prove to all of my Facebook friends and family that that mask was mine.”

“I know that the minute that [my kids] saw it that they were going to take it from me,”

“And I’m like, ‘I didn’t buy it for you, little kids. I love you, but this isn’t for you.’”

“I’ve had some people — they’ve sent me private messages, and they’ll just say stuff like, ‘Man, I’ve been battling depression. So-and-so passed away, and I hadn’t laughed since they died and this video made me laugh again,’ ”

 Health Benefits of Laughter

Psychologically, humor can reduce stress a1244fdc5cb6aea6bb8c3393a58aa50band anxiety that often lead to other physical ailments. According to Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan at the Loma Linda University in California, laughter has the following benefits (See full article at: http://life.gaiam.com/article/7-benefits-laughter):

1. Laughing lowers blood pressure. Research indicates a link between laughter or relaxed state and the lowering of blood pressure.

2. Reduces stress hormone levels. Something as simple as telling jokes with friends can relieve daily stress.

3. Fun ab workout. During laughter, stomach muscles expand and contract, thus making it a physical exercise.f43f0165f17fb92e0181a7bb0adf8c15

4. Improves cardiac health. Laughter is a great cardio workout and gets your heart pumping. You even burn calories.

5. Boosts T cells. T cells, or immune system cells can be boosted through humor enabling the body to fight off illness.

6. Triggers the release of endorphins. Laughing releases endorphins, which can ease chronic pain.

7. Produces a general sense of well-being. Studies show that people with a positive outlook have a greater chance of fighting certain diseases compared to those with negative demeanors.

Religion and Laughter

Religious denominations vary regarding the role of laughter. Humor plays a role in most faith communities, although some religions consider it incongruous with the sacred. For example, parishioners of older religions tend to be more at ease with humor. This is according to Diana Mahony in The Encyclopedia of Religion, Communication, and Media. Catholics, for example are comfortable with jokes about the Pope, while Mormons tend to be uneasy with jokes about the Prophet. Such humor  breaches the sacred realm of worship and clergy.

Mormonism, however, is a theology of the family, and when humor uplifts and strengthens family, members are reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:4 “A time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”

fd41d072a467011c3f688f31745a0bf1What role does laughter play in the LDS belief system? In the Bible we read, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” (Prov. 17:22.),and Jesus himself counselled that we “be of good cheer”. (John 16:33), but at the same time Doctrine and Covenants section 88 reminds the saints to “cease from all … light speeches, from all laughter … and light-mindedness” (D&C 88:121) and to “cast away … your excess of laughter far from you” (D&C 88:69), along with our “idle thoughts.”

According to a 1974 LDS address, “it would not be wise to attempt to define “excess of laughter” or “much laughter” in terms of decibel levels or time limits.”; although, leaders caution against humour which berates others or makes light of sacred things.

Anyone who has frequented LDS services, is no stranger to the puns, quips, and witty anecdotes that often fly from the pulpit, stirring a congregation all to ready to laugh out loud. Notable LDS church leaders have spoken on the value of humour and even declared that humour unifies marriages, creates fun family relationships, and helps keep life in perspective.

In his talk, “the power of laughter”, Gary Palmer explains that laughter helps us cope with the struggles of life, and suggests we look to the example of children who reportedly laugh 400 times a day on average, compared to15 times for adults. “Humor is in the way we see things, the way we think. It’s an attitude, not an event. Perhaps the key lies in becoming more childlike.”, Palmer said.

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Previous LDS Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, and his wife Marjorie were known for their keen sense of humour.

Sister Hinckley said, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache”.

Do we laugh enough in the LDS community? Is there something we can learn from the Chewbacca Mom about finding joy in everyday life?