Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Evil MasterMime

Today we had Latin music on the quad. Let me tell you something: mediocre praise choruses sung in Spanish is NOT Latin music! Luckily it got better - almost, I would say, good. Not Kinky or Cafe Tecuba, mind you (who are touring together this summer - must go!), but my toes were tapping.

We got to have class with The Mime today. It was a decent talk, but he had to lead off with a mime set to a Ray Boltz song. Anybody remember "Watch the Lamb?" Whew, that's some stinky cheese! [incidentally I just learned that he did the same exact piece at my friend's church...when she was 8 years old...17 years ago]

Doesn't it defeat the purpose of mime to always do it to music with words?

I shouldn't get started on The Mime. Too many people read this now. The Mime is the beloved of my department. He's been "in residence" for many years and has been given his own Directorship of our dramatic program. People who I truly respect think he is the greatest thing. So I must tread carefully.

Can we at least agree that there is a problem with miming to 20-year-old Christian cheese songs? Why does Christian art equal crap? Why can't we reveal the real truth of the universe without resorting to proselytizing or silliness or obviousness or just being lame?

The quality meter of the average Christian has gotten so low that we accept, even celebrate, that which we'd never allow from Hollywood or the concert hall. Then again, I may misspeak. Britney still sells and reality shows still rate great and what will be the biggest box office movie this summer? Probably not Hotel Rwanda.


Mark Baker-Wright said...

While I expect that we will disagree on some of the specifics, I can certainly agree with your concerns on "Christian cheese," even as pertains to "The Mime," who I've known now for several years. In fact, while I generally recommend him as a talented artist and a wonderful person, I do often cringe at some of the pieces he pulls out.

But at the end of the day, I still respect that he is very good at what he does, and that there is a need for it. I just wish he (and so many other Christian artists) would move beyond stuff that pretty much only "preaches to the converted."

Stasi said...

I am just having a really hard time dealing with this person being the master of all things drama at Fuller. I agree that he is very skilled and well-trained. And I respect that as well.

But also I agree with the sentiment of not preaching to the converted. I am sure that the art moves people, but I wonder if it moves anyone not a Christian, and if so, why is it moving them? Is it manipulative? Or is it telling the truth?

I have been most impressed with him when he is doing regular old mime and dance, not something that is Christian (although since I believe all truth is God's truth, then I guess it IS Christian, but that's another story). That is the real art!

So let us not be afraid to just do our art and do it well, and trust God to do God's work of moving people's hearts toward God.

Anonymous said...

Ray Boltz...ugh.

Anonymous said...

I remember Ray Boltz being one of the more popular saccharine abominations among the church performance set in college. Nestled safely away in the rolling hills of the Bluegrass, our little Christian college was prone at times to experiment with worship styles - bad interpretive dance, etc. (which was really funny, in a way, since social dancing was verboten).

Anyway, there was a particularly cheesy Boltz number called "Thank You" that was all the rage. For some reason, people liked to 'perform' this song by playing the tape and singing along in bad sign language. Seeing as how I was the only hearing-impaired person in that community (and don't sign; I 'pass' for hearing), you would think I'd take greater umbrage than I did. It was really too strange to consider in its fullness, though. Consider my response that of the insider anthropologiest first witnessing a modified glossolalia - speaking in hands, if you will.


Stasi said...

OK, let's lay off Ray Boltz. I didn't mean he was cheesy, I meant that the interpretation of the song was so. How could it not be? It's 20 years old.

I was a fan of Boltz when he had his day, and I think his dramatic storytelling songs are strong enough to stand on their own without overt accompaniment or explanation. Hence my dissatisfaction with what was presented.

I also understand that mimes across the world have particularly picked up on his music, to which I can only give a shudder and my sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Well put. Clearly the ire in my last post could not have been entirely invoked by one Christian musician. I let my feelings for a lot of the tangential issues get the best of me. My apologies.


Anonymous said...

You of all people studying at a Christian institution and calling yourself a christian should remember that you will be judged by the measure you judge other people. God has used Todd Farley & Mimeistry to save hundreds of people as a result of his old and new mime pieces.

Stasi said...

Hey, God can speak through any old donkey, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to avoid being an ass. (see Numbers 30)

[And let me be first to say I'm often the animal-in-question.]

God saves people through televangelists and Left Behind and A Thief in the Night and even tragedies. Just because people hear the voice of God doesn't mean the person bringing the voice is good. It means God is powerful and pretty irresistible. But we can't equate God's work of saving souls with our work as bringers of good news. What I'm trying to say is that people being saved through mime doesn't make mime good art. Or even necessarily good evangelism.

Because we'll never know how many people may have been turned away from the church and God because they witnessed something outdated and cheesy and decided to have nothing to do with it.

I really do hope to be judged by the same standard, and I pray that if I ever stagnate someone will call me on it.