Friday, November 20, 2009

Reactions to Family Armor?

2010 Update: "Family Armor" was not picked up by TLC.

While it was interesting to see the business side of Texas Armoring, I was a bit uncomfortable watching the family aspect of Family Armor. I found myself wondering if any ordinary person would assume that that is how all Mormons are. The family approach just wasn't my cup of tea. Or hot chocolate. Whatever.

Camera's in every room? "Someone is always watching". Seriously?

I don't know about other Mormons, but I know that "obedience" shouldn't come out of fear, pressure, or coercion. It should come out of love and gratitude for what God has done for us in providing a Savior.

One more point of criticism. The father of the niece (who wanted to come home to her own family) basically told her on the phone that while they want her to come home, she would essentially stay there forever if she didn't shape up. (I know I'm paraphrasing, but it still seemed odd--too strict--and something I would never say to my daughters.)

Perhaps the TV show didn't really portray reality (or maybe it did), but I found myself thinking about how I don't live the gospel like that. I even found myself saying at one point: "If I weren't Mormon and I was watching this, I'd probably think to myself 'I'm glad I'm not a member of that church'". Sad to say.

Am I being too harsh? Any other reactions? (Positive or negative?)

12 comments:

Ardis said...

I've never heard of this -- a reality show? featuring a Mormon family? that does what? hunkers down behind barricades?

Could you describe the premise of the show, please, as a prelude to your cryptic review? Thanks.

Sally said...

I didn't see it, but I'm sad that they aren't a great example of happy gospel living, especially when they're so vocal about their faith. There was a big write-up about them in MormonTimes.

Clean Cut said...

Sorry Ardis. I guess that was a bit cryptic. I added a link to the OP.

Sally, I wasn't trying to imply that they're not "a great example of happy gospel living". Just based on what I saw, I wouldn't be happy. I would be quite stressed.

The "strict disciplinarian" barking orders just isn't my preferred approach. It might work well for a high stress business, but I would have hated it as a kid at home. (Although, even at work--if I had been the employee who they featured, I probably would have just quit my job!)

Anyway, I'm sure I would have a different impression if I knew them in person. And perhaps you'll have a different impression than me when you watch it for yourself. Hopefully you DVR'd it. Watch it and then give me some candid feedback.

Tyler said...

The whole situation with Jessica was very frustrating to both me and everyone I watched it with, especially the scene about the cameras and the uncle's reaction to her running over the sprinkler head, "it just shows she's not ready to go home yet" (paraphrase). It makes mormons look crazy, but it definitely makes the show more interesting and I want to see more just to know where this all goes.

Clean Cut said...

Thanks Tyler. I agree on all accounts.

Forest said...

I guess I'm saying this without having seen the show, but in my opinion, "reality TV" is anything but.

You look at the wife swap shows and they purposely try to set people up that are fringe elements of society. The "no rules at all" family switches with the "completely overbearing" family. I have to think that just about all of America is well between the two extremes.

One of my students at the high school where I teach was on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. They filmed her running from a limo to her basketball game (that she was late for) but she didn't look "excited enough" so they had her get back in and do it all over again.

Maybe the network that is producing the Family Armor show picked them because they ARE extreme and it will make for good TV...just not so good for being emblematic of LDS lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child.

The fear of God (and parents) is the beginning of wisdom.

Anonymous said...

As a very close family friend, I can vouch that their parenting style is not nearly as stressful as it was portrayed on TV. However, at the same time, I don't think it's a bad thing to show a family who expects a lot out of their children. I think most people expect too little these days.

As far as representing the Church, I think they did a great job. Obviously, every parent, even with the Church, parents differently. Each family and child requires different techniques, and I don't think they look too extreme at all. The camera thing may seem weird, but they were actually installed as a security feature - not really as a monitoring system; though they are extremely helpful in locating children in a large house. :)

Lastly, Tyler's criticism cannot be taken seriously since he is the whole reason Jessica was sent down to Texas in the first place. And while her dad may have sounded harsh on the phone, his comment of keeping her in Texas was out of concern for her eternal exaltation. Out of privacy and respect for her and her family, Jessica's "poor decisions" were greatly underplayed on the show. She had to have her freedoms taken away because she had completely abused them; they are not strict like that with their other children.

Anyway, I understand your initial concerns, but if this show continues, I think you will realize that this family is one of the best examples of happy Mormon living that I know. Hopefully, the producers will better portray that to the TV audience as well.

Clean Cut said...

Anonymous #2, I’m really glad you took the time to comment. In light of your comment, I went back to re-watch the program and I have to say that I didn’t really see much that concerned me or seemed stressful this time. I realized that little “snippets” can be pieced together in a way that might not give the most accurate initial impression.

“As a very close family friend, I can vouch that their parenting style is not nearly as stressful as it was portrayed on TV.”

This was even more apparent to me during the second viewing. They seem like wonderful parents. I realize now that much of the “stress” revolved around Jessica, but even then they were doing what they did out of love for her. For what it’s worth, I don’t know that I would have dealt with her with as much grace as the Kimball’s did. It’s one thing to be a parent to your own children. It’s quite another to have someone else live with you, not to mention any extra baggage. It would be a difficult challenge. I’m much more empathetic seeing that all in context.

Watching it back a second time made me pay closer attention to the little subtleties of family life. My initial concerns were almost forgotten and I only wish we could have seem more from the actual children. Jessica seemed to kind of “steal the show”—but those Kimball kids are adorable. I’d like to have seen more of them. All of the Kimball’s seem like such amiable people, and I’m cheering for them.

“However, at the same time, I don't think it's a bad thing to show a family who expects a lot out of their children. I think most people expect too little these days.”

Fair point—and agreed.

“As far as representing the Church, I think they did a great job. Obviously, every parent, even with the Church, parents differently. Each family and child requires different techniques, and I don't think they look too extreme at all.”

I agree. In all fairness, I think they did a great job. In fact, I think it takes a lot of guts for them to open their home lives to a national television audience. I, for one, would hate to live in a glass house and have every little thing I do or say be evaluated and judged. Heaven only knows what people would say about my life!

“The camera thing may seem weird, but they were actually installed as a security feature - not really as a monitoring system; though they are extremely helpful in locating children in a large house. :)”

I can see that. It’s still a foreign concept to me, though. It seems that in order to gain security, the individual seems to loose quite a bit of privacy. That makes me uncomfortable. But I was at least more understanding of it the second time around.

“Lastly, Tyler's criticism cannot be taken seriously since he is the whole reason Jessica was sent down to Texas in the first place.”

Ah—the plot thickens!

“Out of privacy and respect for her and her family, Jessica's "poor decisions" were greatly underplayed on the show. She had to have her freedoms taken away because she had completely abused them; they are not strict like that with their other children.”

I understand. This would be another reason why I personally would have preferred not to have Jessica filmed at all. I’d rather see more of the actual family.

“Anyway, I understand your initial concerns, but if this show continues, I think you will realize that this family is one of the best examples of happy Mormon living that I know. Hopefully, the producers will better portray that to the TV audience as well.”

Well said.

Upon further review, they came across like a beautiful, disciplined, and fine family. Understanding these relationships better (such as learning the second time that “RB”, the employee who was criticized, was the son of another employee) made a lot more sense.

Parenthetically, I loved Colton’s BYU headboard. Also, the view of the temple from their front yard looked amazing, and the pool in the back yard looked like a blast.

Anonymous said...

Clean Cut, it's says a lot about your character that you were willing to go back and rewatch the show. Thank you. Your response was understanding and very thoughtful, and I agree, I hope they don't focus on Jessica so much in the future. :) Best of luck to you and God bless!

lauri said...

Haven't seen the show, and don't have an opinion on it. Just wanted to say that I love your blog and how much thought you put into everything you do. You must be a great man. I wish I was related to someone like you! Maybe someday.

john f. said...

I hope they choose to take the cameras down out of every room. What a horrible situation for children to grow up in. What is needed is a little love and understanding. "Tough love", especially when implemented as if it is a Gospel principle or somehow related to the Church contains that risk that they will ruin their kids and turn them against the actual principles of the Restored Gospel.