All posts by Dan Stout

Logan Slashes, but that’s OK

By Myck Miller

MPAA ratings have always been what has limited the X-Men characters from reaching the legitimacy of their characters as presented in the comic books. Hugh Jackman over the course of 17 years has starred in eight movies prior to the release of what is expected to be his last role of Wolverine in ‘Logan.’ With the R rating is there concern to go out and watch this film? The answer is undoubtedly, YES!

This film differs from old X-Men films in the sense that the action is more intense and less fictional as presented in other Marvel films. Let’s be real, Wolverine has razor sharp metal claws. backgrounds_logan_outerDo you really expect him to shave people’s mustaches and not kill people… With Deadpool’s immense financial success, Fox gave director James Mangold the green light to go all in on the R ratings. Don’t worry there isn’t anything too awful that would make you reconsider who you are as a person. However, if you don’t like violence this may not be the movie for you. In this film Logan openly comes out and attacks as a Wolverine is expected to do. Scenes of him bisecting heads and punching through skulls was the main reason for the film getting the rating that it did. There are some scenes of small strays of female toplessness which only adds to the R rating. Profanity also was a factor in the film receiving its rating as the F word was used definitely more than once throughout the film.

The film is set in the year 2029 with the implication that the mutants and X-Men are no longer in society. There seems to have been no mutants born in the last 25 years which begs the question, are they going extinct? Some subtle clues are dropped as to the reason for the Wolverine-collage-1X-Men no longer being a factor. Some of those reasons were the rise in villains and their destruction of the former super team. Logan is now an old man working as a limo driver to try and support himself and Professor X. Both are getting old and no longer have the power they once had and as a matter of fact their powers are the reason for their suffering in old age. Out of all the X-Men movies this is full of pain and sorrow. It is definitely the most depressing of all the movies and the characters are sad throughout the whole film. This is what makes it unique as it goes against the standard for Superhero narratives. We see the flaws and the weaknesses of superheroes even though we place them on a higher level than anyone else. This realness gives the movie a separation from others and is the reason why it is so great.


New Joe Cocker Documentary: “Who was that guy, anyway?”

Mormons, when hearing the name, “Joe Cocker,” are likely to draw a blank, unless you’re an LDS child of the sixties. What Zoobie can’t sing, “With a Little Help from My Friends,” or as Cocker wails, “…from me friends…” in that instantly recognized Cockney – that is Cockney so heavy it demands a translator.

Unlike the 1971 film, “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” the new Netflix – produced, “Joe Cocker: Mad Dog with Soul”  joe2is no meager concert film.  Yet performance footage compels, and to our liking, songs play for more than thirty seconds. While paling in comparison to the more mature “Eagles History,” and Peter Bogdonovich’s “Tom Petty: Runnin’ Down a Dream,” there is much here in terms of the compelling question, “Who was Cocker?” Filmmaker John Edgington lays it out there for fans to pass judgement.

Universally, he’s considered the “nice guy.” Shockingly though, Cocker leaves a trail of friends in the dust once their value wanes.  Stunning is Woodstock organizer Michael Lang, who invests a career in Joe, only to feel the cold shoulder of abandonment – not even a returned phone call for decades.

Few watch the Woodstock performance without sensing genius. Rasping wails and spastic arm movements. Joe_Cocker_-_Festival_du_Bout_du_Monde_2013_-_003Starred boots pigeon-toed in. Yet how far should a “single-single” carry one? “With a Little Help” is like Pure Prairie League’s “Amy;” the band would do it ten times if they could. Making things worse, it was a Beatles cover. Cocker had other songs, but few are likely to endure. As for the “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” project of the seventies, success was more Leon Russell’s than Joe Cocker’s. See the new autobiography of the Ban’s Robbie Robertson of you doubt Russell’s superior songwriting.

Jennifer Warren aka the “Love Lift us Up Where we Belong” one-hit wonder may have turned Cocker into the Truman Capote of rock. That duet kept him in the Chicago and Rod Stewart cohort of “never-to-make-it-to-stage-two.” Like Oskar in Gras’s novel  “The Tin Drum,” the infant genius never progresses.

The documentary is not polemical; the gravelly-voiced Cocker is left to the viewer’s judgment.  One thing can’t be debated; Cocker left it all on stage. Every note got his best effort. But, is that enough

LeFou Pas: Outrage sparks over gay character in Disney’s ‘Beauty in the Beast’


The debate over LGBTQ+ tolerance escalated when Disney’s Beauty and the Beast included a gay subplot for a supporting character, LeFou, played by Josh Gad. Petitions were shared online in order to boycott the movie. In response, the LGBTQ+ community sounded off against the petitions creating a social media stir.

Before the highly-anticipated live-action remake of the 1991 story tale classic even hit theaters, with a total of $170 million on opening weekend, controversy circulated on social media about Disney’s choice to have the first openly gay character debut on the film.

According to an interview with British gay lifestyle publication, Attitude Magazine, the film’s director, Bill Condon, says LeFou is “somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day, wants to kiss Gaston.” LeFou is a companion of story antagonist, Gaston, the latter tries to court Belle, the film’s protagonist, while the former tries to subtly do the same to Gaston.

LeFou has short one-liners that reveal his homosexual orientation to the audience, such as a song he sings “No one’s quick as Gaston, no one’s slick as Gaston / No one’s neck is incredibly thick as Gaston / For there’s no man in town half as manly / Perfect, a pure paragon / You can ask any Tom, Dick or Stanley / And they’ll tell you whose team they prefer to be on! / Who plays darts like Gaston? Who breaks hearts like Gaston? / Who’s much more the sum of his parts like Gaston? My, what a guy, that Gaston!” The film shows moments of comedic relief where LeFou hints towards his pent-up feelings toward Gaston.

The “exclusively gay moment” Condon says is sending out a message that “[homosexuality] is normal and natural – and this is a message that will be heard in every county of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.” The gay subplot didn’t sit well with those who held traditional views of marriage, taking to the internet to express their disfavor of the character.

Petitions were setup online in opposition to Disney’s green light on LeFou’s sexual orientation in Beauty and the Beast which was consequently shared on Facebook and other social media channels. One such petition title read “Tell Disney ‘No’ to LGBT agenda in Beauty and the Beast: Sign the Boycott Pledge Here”. Enflamed comments from both sides of the debate questioned the reasoning of signing an anti-gay petition while the movie itself is has a theme of bestiality. Roughly 134,000 people have signed the Life Petitions Boycott on ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

Facebook user, Wendi Deal commented on such a post by saying, “This is hilarious that people are upset over this. Marrying off teenagers is okay, having people trying to poison and kill people is okay, giving up your whole life and future for someone you don’t really know is okay, but god forbid you have a ‘gay moment.’ Also, gay people do not have an agenda, they are people, they have people agenda, they want to be treated like people. So, weird, but that is really all they want.”

Rachel Bernardin echoed the same sentiments by commenting, “[LeFou] dances and makes a flirtatious joke- literally- that’s it- 20 seconds of the movie – and your kids won’t be any worse for the wear. Plus, unless they’re homeschooled and confined to your house, they’re going to be exposed at some point, wouldn’t this be a teaching moment for you? If you want to teach them why it’s wrong- don’t you have to teach them that it exists? That’s all this movie does- is show it exists by having two guys dance together- which other movies have done it just wasn’t seen as gay- and have him make a flirtatious joke at another guy.”

“I do not believe we need to hide or cover our children’s eyes if we don’t believe in same sex relationships. What we need is open dialogues about why we do not agree with it and open discussion on the subject is healthy. Pretending it doesn’t exist is going to cause them to be intolerant, unkind people,” Tanasha Anderson, a Latter-day Saint, said. “Use [this film] as a tool to create dialogue with your kids on what you believe is right and then leave it at that. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist that doesn’t work with the sex talk either you aren’t doing them any favors by censoring the world and acting like it isn’t happening.”

According to, a drive-in movie theater in Henagar, Alabama refused to show the film because of the openly gay character. In a Facebook post, that has since been removed, the Henagar Drive-In stated, “When companies [like Disney] continually force their views on us, we need to take a stand. We all make choices and I am making mine. If I can’t sit through a movie with God or Jesus sitting by me, then we have no business showing it. I know there will be some that do not agree with this decision. That’s fine. We are first and foremost Christians. We will not compromise on what the Bible teaches.”

The Henagar Drive-In wasn’t the only place to boycott the movie; the Russian government is considering a boycott if they determine there is “gay propaganda” in a prescreening of the film, according to Russian Culture Minister, Vladimir Medinsky, they will decide against showing it in the country. As well as a film censorship board in Malaysia has requested that Disney edit out the gay scenes, which Disney refused. The national talk over LGBTQ+ tolerance has been circulating ever since.

Despite the flak that Condon has taken over the past month, he told USA Today, “My message is: This is a movie for everyone. I’m sad about [the Henagar Drive-In], but there are 4,000 theaters showing the movie. I hope everybody moves past that and just goes to take pleasure in what we made.”

Beauty and the Beast has surpassed box office records by becoming the seventh largest opening weekend ever.

LDS Students Size Up Power Rangers

By Myck Miller

For many the TV show Power Rangers was one that dominated the children of the 90s. These same children, now adults were ecstatic to hear of the production of the newest Rita-Repulsa-EW-e1461076145709addition to the Power Rangers family. The excitement was there, the technology was available, and yet many of BYU-Hawaii’s students were not happy with the result of the movie. Was it the anticipation? Could it be that the past can’t be replicated in the present? Whatever the answer is the BYU-Hawaii student body was not happy with the movie and voiced their opinions about where the movie went wrong.

Landin Hayter, a senior majoring in Political Science said, “my hope was that this movie was going to take me back to my childhood and give me the satisfaction that I once had as a kid. The problem is that the expectations that I placed on the film were too high and it ended up coming up short.” Landin later explained that much of what he loved as a kid now is no longer a form of entertainment. Many can remember those Halloween nights with one of the most popular costumes being Power Rangers.

When asked about what went wrong with the movie, Dave Johnson, a junior majoring in accounting said, “the plot wasn’t clear and the acting was terrible.” 6084779ce2255704f927c668d4fbe3e8d7fa0b3bHe later added, “I had a serious issue with the flow of the movie. It lagged on forever and when it was time to morph and get the action rolling the movie came up short. I expected the action to be like the superhero movies but it didn’t live up to the hype.” Much of what the students said about the movie had to do with the pace. Power Rangers had the expectation of living up to the hype of so many of the superhero movies that are currently in production. When BYU-Hawaii students were asked how it compared to the Marvel and DC comic movies the overall consensus was, “NOT EVEN CLOSE!”

Although the college students weren’t fans of the movie they did add that the movie may appeal to younger children and is a family movie. BYU-Hawaii students however are not fans and hope that if there is another movie in production they learn from the mistakes of this film and try to pattern the sequel to something similar to Avengers or the Christian Bale batman movies.

New Sitcom on Heaven, “The Good Place” But, what if you’re there by mistake?

By Kayna Kemp Stout

NBC’s The Good Place is a new sitcom starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson about what happens in the afterlife. Mormon viewers will chuckle, squirm, and nod their heads in unison at the portrayal of the grand beyond. For starters, we believe the afterlife is a busy

The Good Place - Season 1
THE GOOD PLACE — “Tahani Al-Jamil” Episode 103 — Pictured: (l-r) Ted Danson as Michael, D’Arcy Carden as Janet, William Jackson Harper as Chidi — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

place with comings and goings as we know it now, which is how The Good Place portrays it. We LDS adherents, also believe we will be with like minded souls who have a similar goodness quotient. This also is a commonality with the show. However, there’s a twist; mistakes have been made in the admissions process. Unworthy clandestine members of the righteous neighborhood have inadvertently been admitted. This creates havoc in an otherwise perfectly functioning afterlife. Can heaven or kingdoms as we Mormons say have flaws in them? After viewing three episodes, there are six main characters orchestrating the shenanigans in the holy neighborhood.

Ted Danson is the architect of the community, and has a human looking robotic assistant who knows everything and can procure whatever he needs instantly. A modern day version of Bewitched’s Samantha without the nose twitching. Add the two interlopers who are paired with a benevolent member of the community, and you abundant scripts about honesty, authenticity, and consequences. One amusing consequence is their inability to swear in the good place. Substitute words like “fork”  are involuntary spoken instead of unsavory four-letter words.

Lectures on ethical philosophy gush  from the  college professor in the earthly life. He  tutors the misfits in the neighborhood instead so they won’t selfishly care about themselves full time as it was on earth. Plenty here for Sunday School discussions. Will any of us get there by mistake?

“Moana” gets Mixed Reviews

by Danny Stout and Gunnar Christensen

The much-promoted Moana debuted this week with fodder for film critics and giddy kids alike. Disney animation delivers a bouquet of folding color, and a clear moral message; parents and youngsters content with Saturday afternoon euphoria on the way to the post-theater ice cream cone. Directors Ron Clements and John Musker deserve modest praise. Unique in film history, millions will see a version of Polynesian culture for the first time. There’s a lot at stake for Pacific Islanders if Moana is the only introduction to Oceana. Tēvita O. Kaʻili, Indigenous Oceanian Cultural Anthropologist at Brigham Young University-Hawaii said in the The Huffington Post, “Minutes into Disney’s Moana, it became obvious that despite its important girl-power message, the film had a major flaw. It lacked symmetry by its omission of a heroic goddess. By failing to do this, Disney resorted to reducing the mighty god Māui to a one-dimensional selfish borderline abusive buffoon to foreground the strength of the movie’s protagonist Moana.”



As Ka’ili points out, whimsy overrides the integral message; Disney’s versions are usually dilutions of the engaging age-old truth tales even children long to see (See reviews of Krampus, and The Real Beauty and the Beast on this site ). Again, a swing and a miss despite the cerulean ocean and lush green mountains interjected with upbeat music by Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, especially the snappy tune, “You’re Welcome.”

Despite underlying values of family, following your calling, and taking risks, Moana shows that even a Pixar movie with all its technological trappings, can miss and even offend Polynesian audience members.

Looking at it from a superficialmoana-movie perspective, there’s continuity of emotion— laughing, then sadness, and optimal tension  appropriate for children. It personifies various parts of the earth, as does Hawaiian belief. You see a sassy and loving side of the ocean, the earth’s anger at its mistreatment, and its gratitude when honored with love and respect.

Moana is a colorful joyful ride, but an immature view of Polynesian culture. Despite its inaccuracies and stereotypes, however,  it places Oceana on the media map so to speak. Polynesia has entered the popular discourse, and it is up to audience members to clarify for misguided fans what they missed in this perfunctory effort.




“Grand Tour:” Crazy New Car Show on Amazon Prime

By Alex Maldonado

In the automotive world, few names hold as much power as Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. The trio has been in the public eye for over a decade now; most notably for their roles hosting the British car show, Top Gear. After building up a massive global fan base over the span of twelve years, mixing car news and reviews with slapstick humor and witty banter, the show met an unfortunate end in early 2015. In March of 2015, Clarkson, the lead host, physically attacked one of the show’s producers over an argument about a cold steak. The producer chose not to press charges, but the show’s parent company, the BBC, decided it couldn’t allow Clarkson to get away with is actions.

amazon-1-655340Clarkson’s contract was terminated and his loyal cohosts left with him. After a several-month-long break, the team was picked up by Amazon Prime to star in an all new car show called “The Grand Tour.” The show is set in a collapsible tent that will be transported from continent to continent, highlighting glimpses of the local car culture and completing Top Gear-esque challenges along the way.

The first episode -set in the California desert during a concert reminiscent to Burning Man- had a record setting opening, bringing in three times as many viewers as the opening for Amazon Prime’s previous leading show, The Man in the High Castle, according to Digital Spy. The debut episode revealed vcover20f-2-webseveral recycled and renamed segments from their previous show, including a news segment which, due to legal reasons with the BBC, is called “Conversation Street.” Another Top Gear throwback includes testing every new car they get their hands on a private race track with a professional racing driver. The new track is much smaller and simpler than the Top Gear equivalent, though the crew claims it to be significantly more dangerous. The danger doesn’t come from sharp turns, tight hairpins, or steep elevation changes; but from a climate causing regular moisture, uneven and bumpy sections in the tarmac, and even the occasional animal crossing. The Grand Tour also hints at the possibility of doing a celebrity feature segment, similar to Top Gear’s “big star in a reasonably priced car.” However, each time a celebrity is set to be featured on the show, they suffer an inexplicably sudden death, like a parachute not deploying while skydiving into the audience, or being mauled by a lion while walking up to the tent. According to news outlet The Sun, the BBC has threatened the Grand Tour with legal action if the show presents a celebrity interview segment even remotely resembling the recurring Top Gear bit.


Another segment the Grand Tour team is struggling to revive in a non-plagiaristic way is their new car track time test. Previously, the team would turn the keys over to their silent, robotic, “tamed racing driver” called The Stig. The Stig was a fan favorite, never seen without his white racing suit and smoked visor. The Stig was something of a mystery to fans, regularly playing obscure music or sounds as he drove around the test track, and treating things as ordinary as a cellphone as something completely alien. Now, Clarkson and co. are enlisting an almost universally unpopular former NASCAR driver to test the cars. Wesley Wren of Autoweek critiqued the show’s new driver, saying, “[Last week’s] review gets even worse with not-so-tamed racing driver Mike Skinner behind the wheel. In the last episode, we saw the talented driver act like a stereotypical boneheaded American, which even felt stale in a small dose. The writers at “The Grand Tour” must have thought that people simply didn’t get the joke, because they doubled down with the American-isms for Skinner’s segment.”

The Grand Tour isn’t all bad though. Many diehard fans were happy just to see the gang back together, roaring million-dollar hyper cars around a racetrack again. As the show is still in its infancy, it’s clear the crew is still trying to discover what they want to be; what they want to do with their show, and where to go from here. The Grand Tour is something of a second chance for Clarkson, Hammond, and May; and they are still in the process of determining what works and what doesn’t. New episodes premiere every Friday, exclusively on Amazon prime.

“Amanda Knox” documentary features a modern “Inspector Javert”and mass hysteria

By Daniel Stout

The new documentary, “Amanda Knox,” is exhilarating and haunting, yielding a paradoxical film; it dishes out ample joy and tension. Thematically, the truth-small_121129-233805_to291112est_9350conquers-doubt story is difficult to pull off. Take Dateline and 20/20, the accused are inevitably guilty, or at least convicted. The film is less successful as a crime story than a psychological examination of mass hysteria, similar to the deindividuation of the Salem Witch Trials. Amanda Knox, a University of Washington student visiting Perugia, Italy, was accused of murder in 2007. The film is preceded by Knox’s memoir, “Waiting to be Heard” published in 2013.

No real evidence that Knox and her boyfriend murdered Meredith Kercher ever surfaced. She was found guilty of the stabbing, then innocent, then guilty again. Finally released from shackles, she returned to Seattle, only to face extradition efforts from the Italian government. These efforts recently ceased partly impeded by the Innocence Project. A reporter for the West Seattle Herald, Knox is rebuilds her life and narrates sections of the film, enhancing the dramatic tension, providing personal testimony of the terror of captivity and joy of newfound freedom. What are the factors underpinning a global media event where Italian crowds burned effigies, shouted profanities in the streets, and demanded justice, only to have the real killer eventually confess.

Relentless persecution of the innocent at all costs is a frequent subject of dramatic works. Hugo’s Les Miserables comes to mind as Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini makesgallery-1475164281-gettyimages-127239622 Inspector Javert look like a lightweight. Despite insurmountable evidence, Amanda Knox must be punished in the name of the people, country, and God. In a late scene in the documentary, he’s psychologically and, perhaps pathologically, unwilling to concede the court erred.

With the exception of The Thin Blue Line, Amanda Knox is superior to recent works on the wrongly accused, including Making of a Murderer and the The Central Park Five.

As Latter-day Saints, it’s difficult to view Amanda Knox without reflecting on the The Mountain Meadows Massacre, an event where Christ-like community gives way to sinister social pressure and mob hysteria based on misinformation and collective paranoia. Although a somber film, it flickers with the light of those willing to stand up for truth despite the punishments of opposing the crowd.

At a more personal level, the Amanda Knox story elicits conversation about how rumor and gossip often expands into immense harm that isn’t easily reversed.


Ben Rector’s album, “Brand New” touches the heart

By Hailey Daniels

Exhausting radio love ballads: Who lives that kind of life? Not me; I need an anthem to belt out. So, raise your glass if your life is crazy… “crazy normal.” When did music cease being relatable? Remember the bus scene in Almost Famous as the passengers sang Elton John’s tender “Tiny Dancer?” or Kate McKinnon’s moving rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to open Saturday Night Live? Music has a ripple effect to contemplation and positive actions. Such is validated by 28 year-old singer-songwriter, Ben Rector, and his repertoire of “Happy Music.”

benrector-press-shot-2-eric-ryan-andersonRecent album, Brand New, reflects sincerity often missing today; inspiriting beats and relevant lyrics characterize this uncommon work. The song, “Brand New” fills the senses with a mood of possibilities. Rector, a self-proclaimed dreamer, lives that reality through music. According to a perceptive Itunes review, “His tender croon is infectiously uplifting when set atop a gentle piano and galloping drum beat on the title train.” On “30,000 Feet,” he relates a conversation on an airplane among two very different people; they agree that despite ups-and-downs, life is good.

President Boyd K. Packer said, “Through music, man’s ability to express himself extends beyond the limits of the spoken language in both subtlety and power. Music can be used to exalt and inspire or to carry messages of degradation and destruction. It is therefore important that as Latter-day Saints we at all times apply the principles of the gospel and seek the guidance of the Spirit in selecting the music with which we surround ourselves.” Listening to Ben Rector, I sense this spirit of love.

In “More Like Love,” he sings of trading material things for love and its great impact. Such is frequently lacking in everyday life. If everyone would love and exemplify charity as the Savior did, it would make an enormous change. I wasn’t prepared for the refreshing passion in Ben Rector’s beats and lyrics. As Bono notes: “Music changes people, and people change the world.”

In Doctrine and Covenants 25:12 we read, “For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart;benrector1 yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.” Whether they be hymns or pop-songs, they can touch the heart. If you are searching for music that invites the spirit of positivity and happiness, you will appreciate the lively tones of Ben Rector.


Mormons and Las Vegas Media

by Danny Stout

Las Vegas has always been enigmatic for Mormons. When Brigham Young dispatched Hosea Stout (a very distant cousin) to settle the area, the project failed for lack of water and prospects for farming. The abandoned Mormon fort stands as a state monument and tourist attraction. Ironic, some say, that Mormons were the original settlers of the area known as the entertainment capitol of the world. The Mormon-Vegas paradox has evolved through time, with many iterations. The Donnie and Marie Show on one side of the Strip with Gentleman strip clubs on the other, exemplifies these conflicts of values. In the 1940’s, Las Vegas was a crass gambling town; in the mob-era sixties, it was a fount of organized crime and prostitution. The LDS population grew nevertheless, many working in casinos and other businesses. When Las Vegas mogul Howard Hughes wrestled gambling away from the mafia, giving it lawful legitimacy, LDS executives (i.e., “The Mormon Mafia”) arranged for loans from Utah’s First Security Bank.


A study published by this author in the journal, Mass Media and Society, describes a growing and devout Mormon population; a temple was dedicated in 1989. About five per cent (105,000) of Las Vegas is LDS. The city, while not the coarse off-color place it was in the sixties, retains its culture of excess, something-for-nothing mindset, and promiscuous flare for the erotic. The Cirque de Solei show “Zumanity” and “Absinthe” at Caesar’s Palace are examples. Yet some of the first-rate Broadway shows, fine art museums, and aquariums blend the commendable with the deleterious. Today, Mormon tourists visit the city annually by the hundreds of thousands. It’s a vacation destination for Utahns. When BYU sports teams compete in the city, Latter-day Saints check in to casino resorts. Like the city itself, which built the elegant Smith Center for the Performing Arts in 2009, and boasts an expanding art district exceeding many cities in the west, media attractive to LDS audiences have sprouted.

 Using the term, “religion” in the same sentence as “Las Vegas” is disquieting for a myriad of Mormons. Yet it’s a city of simulacra, an idea developed by the French philosopher Jean Beaudrillard. A simulacrum is something artificial that displaces the real. When the Belagio Hotel serves the same purpose as an Italian five-star resort, and the replication of the Eifel Tower in the Paris resort feels real, the experience has legitimacy. Simulacra is ubiquitous, making Las Vegas the quintessential postmodern city. The “real” and the “articicial” have blended. So has the old and new, traditional and nontraditional as well as the sacred and the secular.


Music is a prime example. Every Sunday morning in the Mandalay Casino the “Gospel Brunch” is held. When I attended, the house lights came up and a singer, announced, “I know you’re here in Las Vegas to win money, but now it’s time to praise the Lord! Stand up and clap your hands in praise of Jesus!” The event was more like an Evangelical church than a casino. The gospel music was both spiritual and astoundingly performed. There is also the best of Broadway from “Phantom of the Opera” to “Jersey Boys” to “The Blue Man Group.” Fine art museums are abundant featuring the world’s great paintings and sculpture in the Bellagio Gallery as well that in the Winn Resort. Experimental, classical, impressionism, and abstract expressionism works are ubiquitous on the Strip.

Despite plenty of kitsch, the Strip has architectural works of note including the Renaissance Armillary Sphere, a creation of gold and marble eliciting awe and wonder. The oval stained glass piece in the Tropicana is one of the largest in the world, creating unique filters of light rays. Similarly, the Chihuli glass flower blossoms in the Belaggio lobby has 2,000 hand-blown glass blossoms created at a cost of $10 million. The gold shrine combining Hindu and Buddhist elements attracts thousands each day becoming a regular place for prayer.

While LDS visitors are not likely to attend, the wedding chapels at the mega-resorts have fine crafted wood features and appear much like Protestant churches without religious iconography. The MGM chapel has stone statuary simulating a European cathedral entrance. Unlike the tacky wedding chapels on Fremont Street, these facilities allow parties to bring in their own clergy, thus transporting congregations into the Las Vegas Strip.


The complex interplay between Mormon and Las Vegas cultures is difficult to assess. Cities are not static, and the values of their visitors and citizens advance in multiple directions. Increasing popularity of Las Vegas among Mormons implies that cities are not homogenous, that visitors select various sites and reject others. For this reason, some hotels have kosher floors for Jewish guests. Las Vegas and America have blurred. The Luxor Resort has Egyptian exhibits for local school children, as does the Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay. Virtually all movie theaters and bowling alleys are now in casinos. Neighborhood casinos are primarily for locals, and are the community centers of the past. The question is whether Las Vegas is becoming more like the rest of the U.S., or if other cities are beginning to resemble Sin City. One thing that is relatively certain, Las Vegas and its media are no longer easily categorized in the black-white, either-or fashion of the past. The city has many greys.