A Brand New Year

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The onset of 2009 brings an opportunity for young people of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to renew their commitment to their faith while participating in a program of instruction, song and dance that reviews the activities of 2008. The program also introduces their theme as Mormon youth for the new year: “Be thou an example of the believers” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Wow I had never seen such a sleek production done by the church some blogs have compared it too watching High School Musical. See you tube video here (please click high quality when you watch it).

Its a whole new media style and attitude I have never seen in our church.

Click here to see the News Press.Click here to Brand New Year Website – I found the videos pretty up beat and interesting. My English daughter who is out of young women’s found it cheesy-she thinks most American things are.  My wife thought it was a little too manufactured and OTT but she is English to.

What do you think?

Have any of the youth in your wards seen in it live or watched it ?

Did they enjoy it or not?


Comments

comments

Comments 29

  1. My wife in in YW and she saw it. She was glad to see the Church taking an approach of teaching youth through a method other than having an old person stand at a pulpit and lecture them. However, she agreed with your wife and daughter’s assessment that it was a bit too manufactured. But kudos to them for at least trying a new direction.

  2. one part high school musical, one part evangelical meeting, little bit mormonism.

    The third video is too choice, yuck. I think its condescending and talking to kids like they are 3 or 4.

    just my opinion.

  3. My two oldest kids saw it in YM/YW last Sunday. They said it was cheesy and insulting. Most kids broke out in laughter at inappropriate points. I haven’t seen it. But I like that the Church is trying to reach the young adults with more contemporary material. Even if this one was a flub (I haven’t seen them), I hope they continue to try and reach YA with material that is tailored to them.

  4. My mother (aged 52) is in the young women’s presidency in her ward, and saw these videos as part of the Church-mandated New Year’s Bash she and her husband were forced to chaperone (along with all the other YM and YW leaders and their spouses IN THE STAKE!). Seriously, there were almost as many adults at the event as there were youth. Anyway, she reported that most of the kids weren’t all that excited to be at the church on New Year’s Eve, and really weren’t in the mood to commit themselves to living the teachings of the Church on what was supposed to be a night of parties and fun. She doubted that the youth were really going to go home and “download all the songs!”. Too cheesy, she said. She said that although it was nice that the Church was making an effort to reach out to the youth using language, imagery, and media that they are familiar with, they have a lot of work to do if they hope to truly engage them the way other faith-based groups have been able to using the same tools.

    I just went to the website, watched some of the videos, and listened to the song “Just say Yes”. Only one sensation comes to mind: Painful. Wincingly, tragically, overreachingly painful. The problem I’m responding to is that the production sadly fails to achieve “coolness”. You know, that indescribably state of being that embodies desirability, inspires emulation, and suggests effortlessness? Its hard to manufacture cool (although firms with tons of financial resources, loads of experience in the sector, and often little or no moral conscience can do it). And it is extremely easy for anyone to see when someone is trying too hard to be cool. If coolness is an attitude that naturally exudes into action, comportment and presentation, it resists sophomoric attempts at creating a facade of coolness to mask an inner lack.

    Letting “the suits” decide what gets said and sung and performed makes it hard to create an authentic “cool” experience, especially because such experiences attain coolness in a secular context precisely for elements that Church folk seek to control, limit, or otherwise diminish Some aspects of coolness, especially for teens and young adults, often include some elements of unpredictability, a sprinkling of chaos and madness, direct candor, unabashed humanity, and a grasp of irony and whimsy.

    But just because this effort ultimately may fail to reach the youth, should the church stop trying? I don’t think so. In any case, the more we try, the more likely we’ll probably get something authentic out of the effort. And if nothing else comes out of this type of event, it will at least represent an expansion of what is deemed “appropriate” artistic expression in the minds of a membership that can’t seem to get past the breathy adult-pop sounds of Afterglow (aside: seriously! who came up with the name for this group? I snicker every time I think of them) or the wholesome messages of self-worth of Janice Kapp Perry.

  5. Of course it’s cheezy. It always will be. But they should keep doing it anyway. Kudos to whoever was in charge of this. Next time nix the old people and it will be better. Let the kids speak to each other.

    I don’t think that something being cheesy or manufactured is a nail in the coffin. You can’t get more manufactured or cheesy than High School Musical, but kids love it because the music is catchy and the cast is attractive. There’s no reason the Church couldn’t do the same. (not saying they SHOULD… just saying they COULD… )

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    6 Steve S very well said! I guess that’s what my wife must have meant but I didn’t quite get it until you articulated it so well!

    “The problem I’m responding to is that the production sadly fails to achieve “coolness”. You know, that indescribably state of being that embodies desirability, inspires emulation, and suggests effortlessness? Its hard to manufacture cool (although firms with tons of financial resources, loads of experience in the sector, and often little or no moral conscience can do it).”

    7″There’s no reason the Church couldn’t do the same. (not saying they SHOULD… just saying they COULD… )” I think it was a good firs effort will have to see what the youth thought! Im sure the church is some how monitoring their responses.

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    3″Even if this one was a flub (I haven’t seen them), I hope they continue to try and reach YA with material that is tailored to them.”

    Will have to see but this could go down as a flub but I think the church will get it right eventually they may even be monitoring our remarks and take it all in consideration.

  9. My son who is 14 saw it, and he kind of had a bad attitude about the church stuff. It was too cheesy/kiddie/uncool for his taste, and he probably was a little insulted by the idea that he was somehow the target audience. But I agree that the church has to keep trying. As I recall, roadshows were really cheesy, too. The difference was that the kids participated in the cheesiness and made it their own. It was fun through participation. Watching someone else’s painful cheesiness, it’s easy to distance yourself from it and to think: “Boy I’m glad I’m not one of those dorks.”

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    12 2My son who is 14 saw it, and he kind of had a bad attitude about the church stuff. It was too cheesy/kiddie/uncool for his taste, and he probably was a little insulted by the idea that he was somehow the target audience.”

    Internationaly everything is too cheesy/kiddie/uncool to 14 year old guys!!

    I grew in the Era with the Osmonds and Jackson 5 even if you liked one of their songs you would never mention it to a soul.

  11. I remember when T&S (or at least, I think it was them) covered this stuff and I commented there too. And most of the comments also agreed it was too cheesy (with some commenters saying, just as here, that sometimes, cheesy can be good…or it might be that it’s cheesy because we don’t really have an ‘edgy’ message to work with.)

    I’m out of the target audience, but I am fairly/very/100% absolutely confident that if I were age anything, I would never want anyone I knew to see this or know that I had seen it.

    But then again, I did not fall for the wiles of High School Musical (although I know college aged women who STILL love it, so who knows).

    If I were someone who was on the edge of the church because of how stuffy it is (e.g., other churches have rock bands and Xbox parties and all that fun stuff), this would not appease me. On the other hand, I guess SCP (I call it sugar-Christ-pop; I hope that’s not irreverent) is loads better than the music that usually plays in teenager-focused productions (like for seminary, etc.,)

  12. I think for the youth, too cheesy. My 7 year old niece loves high school musical so I think she would like it. Maybe the church should be showing it to the older primary kids.

  13. Honestly, I found the entire thing exceedingly cheesy. Sister Dalton and…(who was it?) spoke in high pitched tones as if they were speaking to little children – quite condescending. It very much had the air of a megachurch and the lyrics…*wince*

    It is nice to see the Church trying, but having “the suits” there trying so hard really made it difficult to take seriously.

    That said, I’ve been to other churches as a youth and they’re almost just as bad. They just don’t have the history of stuffiness and reverence that we do, so it’s like jumping into freezing water – shock!

    I haven’t worked with the youth in the Church very much, but the few times I have I’ve noticed that they feel stifled. They don’t understand *why* they should say no/yes. They’re jealous of other kids. Perhaps much of this is the age – teen angst and all – but this kind of stuff won’t help. We need to esteem them as equals, truly get to know them, not talk down to them.

    I do think it’s cool to have widgets and all. That shows an attempt, and that’s always welcomed.

  14. Yeah…honestly, as one who only uncomfortably associates with Mormon-Evangelical Youth kitsch, I shudder. And I long for the day when Mormon Art can move the soul. It would have been much better if they had ripped out some rock music about wholesome themes (NOT Christian rock…and may heaven help anyone who accuses me of supporting that anathema of a genre).

    Fortunately, I don’t think youth expect “coolness” at the Church. They have other things for that: music, movies, yadda, yadda. They realize that something more important is at work–whether it’s listening to parents at risk of their wrath or maybe even a little bit of character development.

    Furthermore, that website doesn’t even talk about the First Night in SLC. I attended this year, and between the great and spacious INstitute party (two gyms) and the myriad artists performing on Temple Square, I could call the event quality. I don’t know about cool, but it certainly wasn’t a bunch of Zachs and Codys running around thinking that they’re on the Mickey Mouse Club.

  15. In defense, I will concede that trying to create a single web resource or DVD that is cool is nearly impossible, as “cool” is defined very differently by youth ranging from 12 to 18 years old. As an additional defense, I think it’s important that we all keep things in perspective here before writing this off as “cheesy.” Seriously, let’s all just ponder the awfulness that is “What is Real” or “Labor of Love” before judging too harshly.

    Now that my caveats are out of the way, I am confused about how these videos even make it out of post-production. Whenever I see something that has such a homogeneous reaction (cheesy & painful) in a wide variety of viewers (more or less the same discussion was held over at Big Brown a few weeks ago, with the same general feelings), I am just baffled as to how exactly this sort of thing gets past the screening room. The same could be said for many Hollywood productions, too, so this is not just a jab at the Church’s media production teams, but how has the concept of sunk costs never been accepted here? Why is it so difficult for a group of editors to step back from their project a few paces, breath deeply for a moment, admit that this just isn’t what they were looking for, and scrap it?

  16. To me, it feels… scripted and uninspired. It’s a step in the right direction though as far as the concept is concerned.

  17. Inspiration exists primarily on the audience. To the pure, all things are pure. There’s good to be found in it. But as with almost every element of the Church, there is much refining to be done in our “youth culture” department.

  18. Will the leaders who spoke ever get the message that their tone has the same effect as fingernails on a chalkboard?

    Cringe.

    They utterly missed the mark….BUT AT LEAST THEY TOOK AIM. I hope they keep trying, and I hope they listen and start to get better at this.

  19. That being said, my 10 yr old twins, and especially my 8 and 5 year olds would likely really respond to it, and I plan to make use of this schlock for them.

    Maybe they should try to target something at young adults, and then just turn around and use it for the youth. (Sort of like telling everyone that the Baptism starts at 3:30 when it really starts at 4:00 so most people will actually get there on time) 🙂

  20. First steps often produce better second ones.

    BTW, people who like this production are unlikely to post in forums criticizing it. The type of criticism made is exactly the sort of thing that will cause people to slink away. So on-line discussions about how cheesy something is may not draw a complete survey response. It is just like criticizing Barry and the fanelows he has. Obviously someone likes Mandy and similar songs, given the sales numbers …

  21. Whoa, back off Barry! You’re going to cause a riot in Swing Street. He wrote the songs that made the young girls cry, after all.

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    23 Stephen Marsh – “It is just like criticizing Barry and the fanelows he has. Obviously someone likes Mandy and similar songs, given the sales numbers”

    I think your doing some projection here. Your among friends Stephen if you like Barry Manilow – just say it how it is, I’m sure most of us won’t poke fun at you!

  23. Okay, I have to retract. Showed it all to my kids today. And I didn’t prejudice them in the negative, I actually pumped it up and they were excited….until they actually watched it.

    My 5 year old daughter loved anything remotely musical, but at 10, 10 and 8 years old there was trouble. 8 year did quite like one song, but that was it, and one of my sons just sort of stared the whole time. I asked him what he thought, and he said, “Dad, that was kind of weird. I don’t think kids are really like that. That was sort of like a high school musical primary presentation. Except it wasn’t cool. And there were those old people trying to be cool and that was, like, uncomfortable to watch.”

    Again, I like the fact that they tried, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder just how out of touch the “suits” and the “practical/business dresses” really are. Are they really that insulated from reality?

  24. Man, I saw this at a fireside and it was totally the wrong approach. I sure hope that none of the less active youth were in the audience. I’ll admit that I started cracking up at the dancing portion. It was honestly so ridiculous. It was a good attempt, though. A little to “fakey-utah-mormonish”, y’know?

  25. well, after reading all the comments, so many that i agree with, i find it hard to know which way to comment. I work with the yw/have for so many years, have 2 boys(21/16) and 1 girl(19), and i found it hard to watch just because I myself like “real” versus posed. When do you see kids actually wear what they were wearing to a “party” night. We all like our jeans and t’s for real. and I hate to say it, i am over 50, and i think the adults just need more real clothes and lets get down and just talk. i hate a regulated response. i find that in the discussions the youth don’t really say what they think, they say what they think YOU (as adult) wanna hear, not what they be thinking! I like kids, a lot, and especially the older kids and it was pathetically contrived for me…the kids watched it under duress, but i will say, i liked e.holland’s talk. i think he hit a lot of valid points. and i don’t think he talked down. the church is losing the youth, there is a reason for that. unfortunately. am i saying we need to be more of the world, no, but we do need to address our youth needs and find out the problems and the solutions. we have many leaving for the worldly fun…for the temporary “high”..this is serious and needs to be addressed. can they do this? who knows..i can only hope and pray somehow we will find a way to reach our youth without being underhanded and sly…cuz they know when we try too hard…

  26. I loved A Brand New Year. End of story. To all of you, if you can’t say something nice don’t say nothing at all…

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