Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why Utah Has the Best Goth Scene

I have been to goth clubs and concerts all over the country and world. Each time I check out a new venue in another state I go with the hope that this one will be better than the last, and each time I am left slightly disappointed. From NYC and NJ to CA and Denver, I have been left with one conclusion: Utah has the best goth scene. Yes, I was just as surprised as you.

Last night was the VNV Nation concert at the Murray Theater, and the group seemed to agree with me. As the crowd was going crazy, Ronan Harris (the singer) congratulated us for dancing and partying like no one was watching, like we didn't care what anyone else thought, and that's when I realized exactly why Utah has the best goth scene--because we really don't care what anyone else thinks.

Now some poorly traveled readers may argue: but you're all just a bunch of image-conscious Mormons. To that I say, yes and no. I think that the Mormon culture has a lot to do with this unique rebellion against image. My guesstimate would be that about 20-30 percent of the crowd was Mormon and the other 70-80 percent was either not Mormon or not practicing Mormons. For those who are, the Church often teaches that Church members should never be ashamed of their convictions and that they should never follow what's popular just to fit in. For many Mormons, this means that they shouldn't succumb to peer pressure or care about what "bad" people think, but that they should care about what other Mormons think. A select few, however, take this to mean that as long as they are confident that their actions are not against the Church's teachings, they don't have to care about what anyone thinks, including fellow Mormons. And, for the record, enjoying goth music does not go against gospel teachings.

For those goths who do not profess to be Mormon (and those who do), their uninhibited manner is no shock in this type of religious environment. To withstand all the stares and jeers from the pious, alternative-looking people need to be ultra resilient. In a place like NYC, for example, a goth can walk down the street and not have a single person notice them--it's not a shock. In Utah, bystanders generally don't even try to hide their surprise or disgust and stare openly. Enough of this would make anyone less sensitive to what others think of them.

Considering this environment, it is easy to see that goth crowds would sing, dance, and cheer louder than any other audience at a concert. Goth events don't happen everyday, and the excitement of a group coming from Germany to perform is overwhelming. If other groups knew just how appreciative people are to see them, Utah would become a premier destination on any tour (and yes, there are many more fans than one would believe). At last night's show, Ronan said that he wished he could pack us all into air conditioned, luxury buses and ship us all to Europe where the crowds don't tend to get too riled. Then, when all the serious Europeans asked who all the crazed fans getting off the buses were, he would shout, "That's Utah!"

And this is the essence of the goth scene in Utah. Combined with the best goth club I have ever been to outside of South America, with one of the best, seasoned DJs around (Evil K), the prevailing nonchalance of Utah goths is what really gives Utah the best goth scene around.

Friday, June 26, 2009

True Story

This past week I read a great rant by Paul Rudnick entitled "True Story" in The New Yorker. In summary, the story followed a fictional Mormon family from Utah on a road trip to Massachusetts, a state where gay marriage is now legal. The hypocritical extremes of both sides of the religion vs. gay feud are explored through gross over exaggeration and fantastic stereotype. Cars drive by with license plates that read "Massachusetts--The Anal Sex State," and it's the law that all gay couples recieve a 50 percent discount on everything. As any devout couple would do, the Mormon husband and wife pretend to be gay to take advantage of this discount. Once they reach their relatives' house, they notice a rainbow-painted mailbox that prevents their gay mailman from trashing their mail, and they are instructed on how to interact with the neighbors so that the heterosexual couple's house won't be vandalized. Beautiful.

Knowing that the author is not Mormon made this story even better for me. It is refreshing for someone to be able to admit that the extremes at both sides of this issue are rediculous and sometimes at fault. At the same time, some of the stereotyping did go too far. Assuming that all Mormons are so naive and against gay rights is like assuming that all Muslims are terrorists--it just isn't true! And many gay individuals respect others' religious beliefs. I would also suggest a little more research on the author's part. For example, Mormons don't use collection plates; they use envelopes and can even write checks! It always amazes me how much writers think they know, especially when they have a prescient for hating the thing they're writing about with no intention of changing their opinion.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Abortion: Religion vs. Politics

For my first entry on this new blog, I figured I would start with an issue that is both making headlines in the news and is a timeless issue that always seems to get zealots (on both sides) riling. Many of you have at least breezed by headlines that Dr. Tiller, infamous 3rd trimester abortion provider, was murdered this past week by a pro-lifer ( I'm sure I don't have to spell out the irony there, but is there ever justification for violent religious fundamentalism? I haven't been able to come up with an instance where it is, but I will leave this one open for everyone to debate.

Personally, I am religiously pro-life and politically pro-choice. I haven't encountered many who are able to identify with this stance (usually it's one or the other), but let me explain. My pro-life stance is a choice that I have made for my own life, and I don't hold anyone else to this standard. Religiously (and scientifically), I believe that a fetus is a human being, and that I would be wrong to end a child's life. Yes, the all-too necessary disclaimer: I would accept an abortion in cases of rape or if my own life was put in jeopardy, but statistics show that only 1 percent of all abortions in the U.S. are a result of rape and only 6 percent for the mother's health.

My pro-choice stance stems to everyone else and is twofold. First, I (and the government) have no right to impose my morals on anyone else. Every woman has agency. Second, abortions are already dangerous, both physically and psychologically. Banning them will not stop them; they will only become more dangerous, being performed without proper medical care and placing the woman's life in more danger. From a religious perspective, if a woman were to die during an unsafe abortion, she would never have the opportunity to improve her life and make amends for her actions.

So, what do you think? Can religious and political views on abortion coincide? Where do you stand?